Title: Robots and Empire
Author: Isaac Asimov
Page Count/Review Word Count: 512
I was hoping I’d love this one because I’m a big fan of Asimov’s writing, especially when he talks about robots and the ethics of roboticism. The problem is that this is also a tie in with the Foundation series, and I didn’t get on with those books as much as I hoped I would. And unfortunately, while the robots stuff is cool here, it was much more about continuing the story line of the Foundation than it was about looking at the ethical questions that Asimov is so good at.
And so in a way, I feel as though he was playing against his strengths, which is a shame. I’d been looking forward to picking this one up, and then it was just another let down after a series of let downs with the Foundation books.
Now, I’m not saying that it was bad, because it wans’t. In fact, it was pretty well-plotted and well-written, it just didn’t have the same magic that Asimov is known and loved for. That’s probably mostly a personal taste thing and so you might enjoy it a lot more than I did, but I was just left with that same old feeling that I was just getting through this so that I could tick it off, rather than because I was enjoying it.
With that said, there were a few familiar faces that it was nice to catch up with, and there were one or two parts that stood out to me enough for me to take the time to tab them out. That’s more than I could say about the last three or four Foundation/Empire books that I’ve read. For the most part, though, there really isn’t too much for me to talk about, to the point at which I’m going to struggle to get another 200 words out of this review.
With a few other authors, like Stephen King and Agatha Christie, I always say that they don’t really have bad books, because even their worst stuff is better than most at their best. I don’t think the same is true for Asimov though. I feel like that about his short fiction, and in fact he’s the guy who wrote my favourite short story collection of all time, but his longer books just have a habit of disappearing up their own arse.
This is definitely one that did that, and so while I did struggle through it so that I could get to the end, I didn’t much enjoy it. In fact, it wasn’t far off being a bedtime book for me, and in hindsight it probably should have been. I probably wouldn’t have bothered to finish it at all if it hadn’t been for the fact that it was Asimov, and I want to read everything of his that he published. It ranked a little higher than the Foundation books, which were themselves about his essays. But that’s about it.