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The Caves of Steel (R. Daneel Olivaw, Book 1) Mass Market Paperback – November 1, 1991

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 6 Up—Isaac Asimov's mid-20th century tale artfully combines science fiction and detection. William Dufris performs it in multiple voices and with just enough camp to pull in contemporary listeners by playing to the ironies of the period in which the story was written. A human police detective, Baley, lives in New York City a thousand years hence. He's tapped to help solve a murder in a community where robots are not reviled and ends up with a partner, Daneel, who is a highly sophisticated, humanoid machine. Baley and Daneel don't have an easy time with each other or with those New Yorkers, called Medievalists, who despise robots. The action moves swiftly, yet there is time for Asimov to weave in some engaging and edifying glosses on the Bible as literature—and for Baley to smoke, making this as an adult book of the period. While most of Dufris's voices are successful, his interpretation of Baley's 16-year-old son reduces the latter to sounding like a whiney 8-year-old. Asimov's story is a great way to introduce young readers to a polymath who captured the "American century" through futurism and literate character development.—Francisca Goldsmith, Halifax Public Libraries, Canada
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.


"William Dufris breathes new life into this classic science fiction mystery.... Ultimately, he is the perfect narrator for the series, which includes three more novels." ---AudioFile --This text refers to the MP3 CD edition.

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Spectra; Reprint edition (December 1, 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553293400
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553293401
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.8 x 6.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (300 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #44,246 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

77 of 81 people found the following review helpful By "jradoff" on April 12, 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The only reason I've rated this book only four stars is because some of Asimov's later books in the same series, written later in his career (Naked Sun, Robots of Dawn) get even better. However, this is where you need to begin--don't jump ahead. This is a thought-provoking and entertaining read in its own right.
Asimov combines the mystery genre and many of his futurist ideas together in this series. You'll enter a world where people live underground because there isn't enough living space, and where many people have grown resentful of robots that are taking over jobs that humans once held. Not only do you get to experience a great mystery-adventure, but you're also exploring the social consequences of near-human robots and the continued urbanization of the Earth.
Daneel Olivaw, the robot partner to detective Elijah Baley, is one of the most memorable characters in the field of speculative fiction.
This is the best place to start reading Asimov. If you enjoy this, you will absolutely love the sequels. After reading the Robots books, try the Foundation series, which starts slower but gets very good--and ultimately rewards readers of the Robot books by tieing it all together.
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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 26, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is one of Asimov's best science fiction novels. The description of New York, in a future where Earth's cities are built underground (for fear of attack from other planets colonised by humans), is totally convincing. The people of Earth are agorophobic and live in standardised, basic conditions due to overpopulation and scarcity of resources. Asimov's description is fascinating. The novel also deals with robots in detail, according to Asimov's famous Three Laws which govern their behaviour. Asimov writes some very interesting speculation on robot psychology and attitude towards humans, and their attitude towards the robots. This novel really shows Asimov's talent for writng intelligent science fiction and plausible future history. It is mainly a mystery story, and althogh I haven't read many detective novels, I thoght it was well written and the ending was surprising. Before reading this novel, I would recommend reading Asimov's short stories dealing with robots. These deal with the early development of robots, and make what happens in this book clearer. 'The Caves of Steel' is followed by more Robot novels, and then the Galactic Empire and Foundation novels. You should read the whole series, but make sure you read them in order. Like all of Asimov's novels, this book has a clever plot and is very thought provoking. A must if you're a serious science fiction fan.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Emma on September 13, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Caves of Steel is one of Asimov's best books (well, truthfully the same can be said of every Asimov book I've read). As Asimov does so well, the book is written on multiple levels and they are all interesting and engaging.
At first glance, we have Elijah Bailey, the earther, a New Yorker of the future who lives in the vast underground city. Bailey is a cop put on the case of a murdered Spacer (those humans who have settled other planets). Bailey is teamed with another investigator R. Daneel Olivaw who we find out later, is a robot.
More than just your basic whodunit, this book deals with larger issues of the differences between people that keep them in fear and mistrust of each other. The Spacers who have embraced the outside world, who have embraced technology and robotics live in fear of the humans who stayed on earth. Those humans who live in extremely close contact with each other in teeming underground cities as they've all developed a fear of the open sky. The earthers loathe the Spacers for their superiority complex and the Spacers fear contamination from the earthers.
Bailey must overcome these inbred fears and bigotries when he must travel off planet with his partner, a robot, to deal with and solve a murder of a Spacer. Olivaw (who is a recurring character in many Asimov books) sort of becomes Bailey's moral compass and our guide through the physical and emotional journey Bailey takes.
The book is a quick read and it's good old sci fi at its best. I recommend also reading "The Naked Sun" and "The Robots of Dawn" which also feature Bailey and Olivaw.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Paul Weiss on September 21, 2007
Format: Paperback
A thousand years ago, mankind began the process of leaving mother Earth and colonizing the galaxy. Fifty planets have been now been colonized by thinly spread populations of hardy pioneering spirits - rough and ready types willing to work in hostile environments with robots as help-mates and partners - and it is obvious that mankind has evolved down two diverging sociological paths. The Earthmen - those who chose to stay at home in tightly cramped almost global city hives under the pressure of explosive population growth, an incredibly strict socialist regime and diminishing available resources - have grown timid of the slightest exposure to outside light, weather and even "un-conditioned" air. Robots, seen as competing with humans for jobs, the only meager source of status in this highly regulated environment, are despised and feared. While diplomacy and trade are maintained between Earthmen and Spacers, relations are strained and mutual distrust bordering on hatred has become the norm.

When a Spacer is murdered by a visiting Earthman, the governments on both sides realize that the crime must be solved quickly and quietly to prevent a complete collapse of diplomatic relations and an explosion of tension into riots, chaos, open animosity, perhaps even a war! The Commissioner of the New York City police force orders Elijah Baley, an Earthman detective who doesn't like robots any more than the next guy, to check his emotions at the door and partner up with a Spacer robot, R Daneel Olivaw, to solve the crime.

"Caves of Steel", a classic novel from the pen of Isaac Asimov - one of the acknowledged giants of science fiction writing - can be enjoyed on so many different levels.
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