Book Review : The Caves of Steel by Isaac Asimov

The Caves of Steel (Robot, #1)The Caves of Steel by Isaac Asimov
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Caves of Steel was written in 1954 by the remarkably ever prescient Asimov and, chronologically, is the first in his suite of “future histories”. The book is tinged, of course, with a 50’s optimistic vision of how they saw the future: robots, speeders, space travel (and still with people smoking tobacco) but you HAVE to admire Asimov’s ability to start predicting things that we have either seen come to pass or at least are looking more and more likely.

His insight into the “human condition” and what motivates mankind to evolve/excel/invent/revolutionise is nothing short of remarkable.
In this novel he gives us a vision of what earth might look like in 1,000 years with an ever burgeoning population – a strain on Earth’s resources along with a sort of inevitable erosion of some of the forces that had previously driven mankind through the millennia to expand. He sees a risk-averse, conformant homogenised society – ring any bells with modern globalisation and our very present “health and safety” risk-averse society we can see ‘blossoming’ before our very eyes? This, he identifies, is the problem with earthmen of 1,000 years plus. Consider this … would Christopher Columbus ever have set sail if he’s had the “health & safety” brigade doing risk assesments on his “project proposal” to set off into the unknown to discover a hypothetical ‘new world’?

He develops this theme into how mankind can get out of this sociological ‘cul-de-sac’ in an intriguing and thought provoking way.

View all my reviews

Book Synopsis

‘Official’ Book Description

A millennium into the future two advancements have altered the course of human history: the colonization of the galaxy and the creation of the positronic brain. Isaac Asimov’s Robot novels chronicle the unlikely partnership between a New York City detective and a humanoid robot who must learn to work together. Like most people left behind on an over-populated Earth, New York City police detective Elijah Baley had little love for either the arrogant Spacers or their robotic companions. But when a prominent Spacer is murdered under mysterious circumstances, Baley is ordered to the Outer Worlds to help track down the killer. The relationship between Life and his Spacer superiors, who distrusted all Earthmen, was strained from the start. Then he learned that they had assigned him a partner: R. Daneel Olivaw. Worst of all was that the “R” stood for robot–and his positronic partner was made in the image and likeness of the murder victim!