This is the second book of Isaac Asimov that I’ve read. I started with “I, Robot” as I follow Asimov’s reading order (suggested by Asimov himself). Similar to “I, Robot” I consumed “The Caves of Steel” in an audio format and absolutely loved it.
Unlike “I, Robot”, the “The Caves of Steel” consists of one cohesive story. It is also a detective which was surprisingly fun and easy to read. I was really glad that I did read the “I, Robot” first as it goes into the details of the Three Laws of Robotics and a positronic brain. “The Caves of Steel” often refers to both but without a whole lot of details. It was really nice to have the context having read the “I, Robot”. I would definitely recommend that reading order.
The story is set on Earth some many years into the future. It is a time when people have been divided into two groups the Earthmen and the Spacers. The Earthmen are 8 billion people living on Earth in the caves of steel – overcrowded and overpopulated cities that are covered by dome so the day light is never seen. The food supply is scarce and therefore rationed. To help cope with the daily life, the use of robots became necessary. The robots are, however, universally disliked by the Earthmen as they are seen as those taking jobs from humans.
The Spacers are the descendants of the Earthmen who left Earth many years ago to colonize the 50 “Outerworlds”. Unlike on Earth, the population in the Outerworlds is low. Spacers live a life of luxury and rely heavily on the robot labor. They also live a very long life due to their technological advancement.
The Earthmen and the Spacers don’t have the best relationships either. The story is a mystery of the Spacer murder. The Earth cop Elijah Bailey is partnered with a Spacer humanoid robot R. Daneel Olivaw to solve the crime.
I loved everything about this book. Especially the description of the life on Earth and its contrast with the life in the Outerworld. It offers thought-provoking ideas on the impact of the robot use among humans and how our life would change. My mind didn’t stop wonder throughout the read – I was really involved the entire time. An excellent read and exploration that I can recommend to all the sci-fi lovers.