by Isaac Asimov
‘And all turned to grey – and he was drowning. He could not breathe. He struggled desperately to open his clogged throat, to call to Daneel for help -‘
The Robots of Dawn (published in 1983) is the novel that fills the fictional space between them although, in real-world time, more than twenty-five years separated the publication of his work from its predecessor (The Naked Sun). This too is a space detective story featuring Earth policeman Elijah Baley and his robot side-kick Daneel Olivaw. It features too – once again – Gladia Solaria, who has migrated from her home planet to Aurora, the first and greatest of the Spacer worlds.
Asimov once explained that during the twenty-five-year hiatus he devoted his attention to other matters. Indeed, between 1957, when The Naked Sun appeared, and 1983, he wrote a great deal of non-fiction, some splendid short stories and – significantly, in 1982 – a sequel to the Foundation Trilogy: Foundation’s Edge, in which there are no robots at all!
In The Robots of Dawn, Baley is called to Aurora to solve the “murder” of Daneel’s near twin, the robot Jander, by permanently freezing its [should I say his?] brain. Jander has been loaned by his creator Han Fastolfe to Gladia who, it turns out, has been using the robot in a sexual way. [Their relationship is actually a bit more complicated than that.] Indeed, Gladia’s sexuality is an important part of the solution!
As to suspects, there is only one, Fastolfe himself. Fastolfe strenuously denies committing the offence, but admits no one else could have done it. To be found guilty won’t be a matter of life and death. However, his political career will be ruined, and all chance of Earthmen colonising new planets will be lost.
‘ “Tell me, Giskard, is this what Dr Fastolfe refers to as the future science of Psychohistory?” ‘
How Elijah Baley manages to overcome the obstacles put in his way by the Auroran authorities and solve this impossible puzzle makes an intriguing crime novel. Pay particular attention to the clever dialogue, and to Asimov’s new robot creation, Giskard. Fans of Asimov’s fiction will recognise here the ideas that he later develops into laws of human behaviour in the Foundation novels.