Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Naked Sun

The Naked Sun
© Asimov 1957
187 pages

A note to readers: I have been avoiding reading science fiction because I don't like it rivaling my history reading. Being in Selma gave me access to The Naked Sun, though, and so I seized the opportunity. The Naked Sun is the second in Asimov's "Robot" series. In this novel's preceding work, The Caves of the Steel, we readers were introduced to detective Elijah Baley and his robot partner R. Daneel Olivaw. We were also introduced to the universe that Baley lives in. Fifty or so planets have been colonized by Earth, although these "Spacer" worlds have quickly surpassed Earth in technological prowess and have been engaged in a policy of keeping Earth down. The Spacer worlds are lightly populated by our standards or anyone else's. The Spacers have cleaned themselves of Earth's germs and want little to do with Earth people. When one of their number is murdered, however, they have no choice but to resort to Elijah Baley, who in The Caves of Steel helped solved the murder of a Spacer on Earth.

Baley and his partner Olivaw travel to Solaria, a very sparsely populated world where the inhabitants are very keen on their privacy. They have intimacy taboos and are never in the company of other humans in their adult life, save for the occasional visitation by a spouse. They do their visiting through what amount to holographic images. Given their intense taboo against being in the company of another, and given that robots in Asimov's universe cannot kill a human being (given the Three Laws of Robotics), Baley has quite a problem. If the humans couldn't do it, and the robots couldn't do it,....whodunit?

The novel is excellently written. I was able to derive the solution by myself, but that's probably thanks to the volume of Asimov I've read. As usual, very enjoyable.

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