Robots and Empire – Book Review

Robots and Empire by Isaac Asimov

I have just finished this book and I couldn’t put it down!! That’s the first book completed from my reading list.

This is the last book in the Robots series by Isaac Asimov and sets up the beginning of the Galactic Empire series (I think there’s only 3 books for that…so maybe it’s a trilogy and not a series?!) and after that, it becomes the Foundation series.


I started with a book called Foundation last year, read the last 5 of that series (not realising there were 2 prequels to the Foundation series), and then went right back to the start of the Robot series.

Have you seen a film called I, Robot with Will Smith in? The film was loosely based on the book of the same name (mainly the idea of having robots and they kept some of the character’s names – otherwise it was not the book at all!).

The robots series starts on Earth. People have created robots to help make their lives better, but end up suspicious and distrustful of them. Humanity starts to expand into nearby systems and the first 50 colonies are formed. People who live on the colonies are called Spacers.

There is tension between Earth and the Spacers. The Spacers use robots all the time for everything and it’s the opposite on Earth. People on Earth live mostly underground in what are called the Caves of Steel and are terrified of large open spaces, leaving the robots to do all their farming for them.

The Spacers live long lives with better technology. Some of the robot books focus on an Earthman called Elijah Baley and his robot friend R. Daniel Olivaw. They solve a few murders together, all the while Daneel is pondering the 3 laws of robotics – basically that a robot can’t harm a human.

By the start of the book I have just read, Robots and Empire, which is the last in the robot series, the people of Earth have started to expand again into new areas of space, onto new worlds, and they are known as Settlers. These are young worlds that need terraforming and only have a few million people on them, if that, whilst Earth has 8 billion. The Spacer worlds don’t have that many people on them and is one reason why they are so afraid of the people of Earth.

This book focuses on a descendent of Baley and one of his past loves, who is a long lived Spacer, as well as Daneel and Giskard, 2 robots.

Giskard has some mental powers, which is important in the Foundation series. Basically, the 2 humans are focused on finding out what happened to the people of one of the Spacer worlds (a planet called Solaria) and the 2 robots are trying to stop the end of the world. If you have read the Foundation series, especially the last book Foundation and Earth, then you will know whether they are successful or not.

I love these books. Although parts of the series were written in the 1950’s, this last book, Robots and Empire was written in 1985 (which is the year I was born *coughs*) and I have to say the whole series has aged quite well, I have read a lot of sci-fi in the last 3 or 4 years or so from the 50’s and 60’s and I just love it!

And the author, Isaac Asimov was a fascinating man himself. An actual scientist, he actually knew what he was talking about! Apparently he wrote and published over 500 novels, articles, papers, short stories etc. He was prolific! And I think I am right in thinking he coined the word ‘robotics’.

There was not one of the books in both the robot and Foundation series that I could not put down. Even though there aren’t really individual heroes as such, I read somewhere that it is SOCIETY itself that is the real hero of the series. This means there isn’t a lot of character description or even development sometimes. In Robots and Empire, the 2 robots tend to reason out the plot and subplots to themselves a lot. You pretty much know that Daneel looks humanoid whilst Giskard simply looks like a robot and that’s about it for the description of them.

If you love your vintage sci-fi then Isaac Asimov is definitely the place to be…I can’t believe it took me so long to read any of his books! Also, one of the streaming sites are making a TV series of the Foundation books soon, so get ahead of the game now and start swotting up!

Rating: 5*

Next up on my reading list is Prelude to Foundation…also by Isaac Asimov. Good times ahead! šŸ™‚


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