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Encyclopedia > The Caves of Steel

The Caves of Steel is a book by Isaac Asimov. It is essentially a detective story, and illustrates an idea Asimov advocated, that science fiction is a flavour that can be applied to any literary genre, rather than a limited genre itself. Isaac Asimov (courtesy of Jay Kay Klein) Dr. Isaac Asimov (c. ... Detective fiction is a branch of crime fiction that centres upon the investigation of a crime, usually murder, by a detective, either professional or amateur. ... Science fiction is a form of speculative fiction principally dealing with the impact of imagined science and technology, or both, upon society and persons as individuals. ... A literary genre refers to the divisions of literature into genres according to particular criteria. ...


The book was first published as a serial in Galaxy Magazine, October to December 1953. A Doubleday hardcover followed in 1954. Galaxy Science Fiction magazine was the creation of noted pulp magazine editor Horace Leonard Gold, generally known as H. L. Gold. ... 1953 (MCMLIII) is a common year starting on Thursday. ... Doubleday is one of the largest book publishing companies in the world. ... 1954 (MCMLIV) was a common year starting on Friday of the Gregorian calendar. ...


Setting

In this novel, Isaac Asimov first introduced Elijah Baley and R. Daneel Olivaw which would later become his, and more so his readers', favourite protagonists. They live roughly three millennia in Earth's future, a time when hyperspace travel has been discovered, and a few worlds relatively close to Earth have been colonised—fifty planets known as the "Spacer worlds". The Spacer worlds are rich, have low population density (average population of one hundred million each) and use robot labour very heavily. Meanwhile, Earth is overpopulated (with a total population of 8 billion) and strict rules against robots have been passed. The eponymous "caves of steel" are vast underground city complexes, capable of supporting tens of millions each. New York, for example, encompasses the present-day New York City as well as large tracts of New Jersey. Elijah Baley is a fictional character in Isaac Asimovs Robot series. ... R. Daneel Olivaw is a fictional robot created by Isaac Asimov. ... In Isaac Asimovs Foundation/Empire/Robot series, the Spacers were the first humans to emigrate to space. ... A humanoid robot playing a trumpet In practical usage, a robot is a mechanical device which can perform complex tasks either according to direct human control, partial control with human supervision, or autonomously (that is, fully under computer control). ... Earth is the third planet from the Sun. ... Overpopulation occurs when the population of a living species exceeds the carrying capacity of its ecological niche. ... 2004 is a leap year starting on Thursday of the Gregorian calendar. ... Nickname: The Big Apple Motto: Official website: City of New York Location Location in the state of New York Government Counties (Boroughs) Bronx (The Bronx) New York (Manhattan) Queens (Queens) Kings (Brooklyn) Richmond (Staten Island) Mayor Michael Bloomberg (R) Geographical characteristics Area Total 468. ... Official language(s) None defined, English de facto Capital Trenton Largest city Newark Area  - Total  - Width  - Length  - % water  - Latitude  - Longitude Ranked 47th 22,608 km² 110 km 240 km 14. ...


Asimov imagines the present day's underground transit connected to malls and apartment blocks, extended to a point where no one ever exits to the outside world. Indeed, most of the population cannot leave, as they suffer from extreme agoraphobia. Agoraphobia is a form of anxiety disorder. ...


In The Caves of Steel and its sequels, Asimov paints a grim situation of an Earth which has become pseudo-socialist to deal with an extremely large population, and of luxury-seeking Spacers who limit birth so that each may have great wealth and privacy. However, Asimov did not find the lack of daylight grim: one of his anecdotes tells how a reader asked him how he could have imagined such an existence with no sunlight. He relates that it had not struck him till then that living perpetually indoors might be construed as unpleasant. The color red and particularly the red flag are traditional symbols of Socialism. ...


Plot summary

The book's central crime is a murder, which takes place before the novel opens. (This is an Asimovian trademark, which he attributed to his own squeamishness and John Campbell's advice of beginning as late in the story as possible.) Roj Nemmenuh Sarton, a Spacer Ambassador, lives in the Spacer outpost just outside New York City. For some time, he has tried to convince the Earth government to loosen its anti-robot restrictions. One morning, he is discovered outside his home, his chest imploded by an energy blaster. The New York police commissioner charges Elijah with finding the murderer. However, he must work with a Spacer partner, a humaniform robot named R. Daneel Olivaw. Together, they search for the murderer and try to stop an interplanetary diplomatic incident which could mean Earth's destruction. John Wood Campbell, Jr. ... An ambassador, rarely embassador, is a diplomatic official accredited to a foreign sovereign or government, or to an international organization, to serve as the official representative of his or her own country. ... A Blaster, along with the ray gun, is a standard science fiction weapon. ... R. Daneel Olivaw is a fictional robot created by Isaac Asimov. ...


One interesting aspect of the book is the contrast between Elijah, the human detective, and Daneel, the humanoid robot. Asimov uses the "mechanical" robot to inquire about human nature. When confronting a "Medievalist" who fears that robots will overcome humankind, Baley argues that robots are inherently deficient. Being precision-engineered calculating machines, they can have no appreciation of art, beauty, or God; robots can only understand concepts expressible in mathematics. However, in the concluding scene, R. Daneel exhibits a sense of morality. He argues that the captured murderer be treated leniently, telling his human companions that he now realizes the destruction of evil is less desirable than the conversion of evil into good. God is the term used to denote the Supreme Being ascribed by monotheistic religions to be the creator, ruler and/or the sum total of, existence. ...


In the novel's final paragraphs, R. Daneel becomes a Christ figure. Baley does not react adversely to the disproof of his old contentions; in fact, he and Daneel exit the story walking arm-in-arm. This page is about the title, for the Christian figure, see Jesus Christ is the English representation of the Greek word Χριστός (transliterated as Khristós), which means anointed. ...

Preceded by: Series:
Followed by:
Mother Earth

Robot Series
Foundation Series
The Naked Sun


  Results from FactBites:
 
The Caves of Steel - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (650 words)
Meanwhile, Earth is overpopulated (with a total population of 8 billion) and strict rules against robots have been passed.
The eponymous "caves of steel" are vast underground city complexes, capable of supporting tens of millions each.
In The Caves of Steel and its sequels, Asimov paints a grim situation of an Earth which has become pseudo-socialist to deal with an extremely large population, and of luxury-seeking Spacers who limit birth so that each may have great wealth and privacy.
Isaac Asimov: The Caves of Steel (651 words)
The Caves of Steel (1954) is set three thousand years into the future.
Humans live on Earth in completely enclosed underground cities (caves of steel) while their robot servants work in mines and farms in the open country.
Like many of Asimov's other robot stories, Caves of Steel tries to banish the stereotype of the "evil robot." Asimov's robots are not something to be feared, and are not abominations of nature created by humans.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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