Book Discussion: The Caves of Steel - Spoiler Free Thread

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Book Discussion: The Caves of Steel - Spoiler Free Thread

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Muokkaaja: lokakuu 2, 2007, 1:34pm

I expect to start the book today! YAY! After reading that Pepe Escobar book about Iraq I need to read something to clear my head.

Please, no spoilers in this thread. Stick to general impressions, etc.

lokakuu 1, 2007, 8:59am

Having recently read prelude to Foundation, in which Isaac Asimov lists the order of novels I thought I'd mention for any who don't know that Caves of Steel is the 2nd in the collection of 14 books covering the rise, fall and re-establishment of the human galactic presence. He lists the Complete robot as the first.

Personally, last time I read it, I think Caves works as a standalone or as an enterance to the rest of the Baylee books, but some familiarity with the Three Laws of Robotics might be necessary beforehand.

lokakuu 1, 2007, 9:12am

The introduction in my copy says basically the same thing. The Complete Robot is a collection of short stories previous published in sci-fi magazines, and all predate Caves of Steel. But, I think each story is intended to be a stand alone story and is Caves of Steel.

Anyway, what are the Three Laws of Robotics?

lokakuu 1, 2007, 9:12am

My book still not arrived :( I think I have to start torturing the mailman tomorrow

lokakuu 1, 2007, 9:19am

At work so I don't have a copy in front of me but its something like:

1: A robot may not harm a human or through inaction allow a human to come to harm

2: A robot must obey all instructions given to it by a human unless this would interfere with the 1st law

hmm not sure of the third law I think its something along the lines of looking after propert including itself unless it interfere's with the 1st or 2nd law.

These laws are enoded in the positronic brains of the robots, as diferent volt potentials, close conflict between the laws tends to leave a robot paralysed.

See if you can spot any breaking of them in the stories? There are some very fine shadings of meanings sometimes!

lokakuu 1, 2007, 10:11am

I'm almost half-way through it now. I just shake my head at some of the things that were supposed to be futuristic...

BTW, a reminder for those who do such things, tags 'Green Dragon' and 'GD Group Read' can be added to Caves of Steel

lokakuu 1, 2007, 1:56pm

I'm just over halfway through as well, and yeah I'm enjoying it - it's a little different to how I expected it to be, in a good way (not that I expected it to be bad... just more... um... I dunno, dry?)

Looking forward to seeing how the story pans out.

lokakuu 1, 2007, 3:37pm

I got my copy from the library, but I haven't started it yet. Will post again once I have started.


Muokkaaja: lokakuu 1, 2007, 5:06pm

I've only just started, read a couple of chapters over the weekend. I've tried a couple of Asimov books before (I, Robot and one of the Foundation books) but didn't finish either one. I'll try a little harder for this group read :o) What I do find interesting so far is Asimov's descriptions of life in the far future. How far in the future is it anyways?

lokakuu 1, 2007, 5:39pm

9 > I believe at least 3000 years...

lokakuu 1, 2007, 9:26pm

I had no idea this was part of a larger sequence, so it guess it works fine as a standalone. I enjoyed it, though I think I'd have gotten frustrated with it if it had been any longer. My edition is 189 pages, and that was the perfect length.

Muokkaaja: lokakuu 1, 2007, 9:28pm

I'll point out in here that in addition to reading this book, I also read Rendezvous with Rama, which was one of the other choices that we had this time around. I really enjoyed that, thought it was one of the better Sci-Fi books I've ever read. So if you've been thinking about it, go for it. Cool book.

lokakuu 1, 2007, 9:30pm

#2 The 3 laws are printed on the back cover of the copy I got from the library...

#5 the 3rd law is:
A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

lokakuu 1, 2007, 9:38pm

Atomicmutant - Rendezvous with Rama is one of my favorites! I actually like the sequels better than the first one. Try Rama II and Garden of Rama. In my opinion, those two were the best in the series. Rama Revealed was good, but was my least favorite of the group. Gentry Lee followed with two others; I haven't read those.

I read Caves of Steel for the first time several years ago and loved it. I enjoyed it just as much this time. It's a book that's easy to read with just enough suspense to keep you wondering. Oh, and there are robots! :)

lokakuu 1, 2007, 10:36pm

I started the first chapter, just to see if I would like it. Fours hours later....

I liked it. I thought Asimov did a good job creating a dystopia.

lokakuu 2, 2007, 9:06am

This was a fun quick light read, as advertised.

#5 reading_fox & #13 Seanie - For some reason, when I saw the "Three Laws of Robotics" I was thinking in terms of laws for writing about robots. Asimov comments about coming up with the three laws in an introduction in my copy, but he didn't say what they were and I didn't connect it with laws robots should be designed to follow.

Which makes me wonder, is it possible to design program a robot to follow these laws? Of course we can program a robot so that it won't "blast" a person, or do some other kinds of direct harm. But, harm can come in many accidental ways, programing bugs if you like.

lokakuu 2, 2007, 9:50am

10 > thats what most of Asimov's Robot books were about, the fallibility of the laws, try reading I, Robot for more obvious examples.

Muokkaaja: lokakuu 2, 2007, 11:00am

Rama is a great book - far better than Caves of Steel as pure speculative SF. It falls in that '2nd generation' that I would call "humans-as-they-are SF." These stories are not about rocket ships to the stars. These are more about the wonder of discovering we are not alone, and how that changes us. Childhood's End is similar. Another, more recent example of this type of SF is seen in Brin's "Uplift" series of books. These are about humans discovering the galaxy is very crowded. We are not just not alone - we are quite behind the times. (The major debate and tension in Brin's galactic civilization is the debate as to what species, if any, can rightfully lay claim to us t obe a species needing their help. Obtaining help has the down side of being enslaved enslave for millenia in return for obtaining the help.)

Caves of Steel is smack in the middle of the grand old space-opera "humans taking over the stars" genre that 40s/50s SF thrived in. :)

Clarke's SF ages well. Rama is just as mysterious now as it was when it was first published.

lokakuu 2, 2007, 10:31am

I don't know who to blame, but I can't believe how many SciFi books I now have in my TBR list. Whew, I haven't been this SciFi obsessed for years. I guess I might blame the Green Dragon.....hummmmm. But then maybe the Roomba will get me. Maybe I'll just shut up, and read. (-;

lokakuu 2, 2007, 11:04am

#16 if you are talking about current technology than no - it is quite difficult to differentiate between a picture of a person, a real person, a dummy, a child, a doll etc.

I don't work in robotics but from what I understand of the subject current advances are using google image searches to compare camra inputs, and even then it is slow and prone to error.

lokakuu 2, 2007, 9:05pm

As I understand it, no one's come up with something better than the three laws, despite their apparent loopholes, so they are still considered something to program into a robot design.

lokakuu 3, 2007, 9:12am

I'm not through yet, present workload is IMMENSE, but I enjoy what I've read. This far it's exactly what I remembered it to be, but I think I got some of the details mixed up with The Naked Sun.

Anyway, while I've read Rama more than once when I was younger I really did not like it that much. But then I did not like '2001: A Space Odyssey' either. Dry, outright boring. If my SF experiences had started with those I probably would not be into SF at all.
Give me 'Alien' any day, instead ;-)

lokakuu 3, 2007, 8:50pm

My book just arrived so I'm going to start reading tonight. Will talk more tomorrow...

*busy with head in book* (bummer, have to cook some supper!)

lokakuu 3, 2007, 9:00pm

I enjoyed Caves, but wondered what to write about it. It was...a good, fun read. I read Rama years ago, and felt much like just did not do anything for me.

lokakuu 4, 2007, 2:01pm

Anyone else still reading besides me?
His writing is so 'clean.' Or maybe 'spare' is a better word choice.

lokakuu 4, 2007, 2:08pm

I'm still reading, got to chapter 12 on the bus today. I get the impression Asimov is writing a mystery as an excuse to write down some ideas about the future. Not that I mind, I find myself more interested in the ideas than in the characters. I'm not too keen on the characters.

lokakuu 4, 2007, 2:32pm

Just finished the first chapter. I hope the writing is as good as the idea.

lokakuu 4, 2007, 10:13pm

I read this book some time ago, when I was a major "Law & Order" fan. Still am, as a matter of fact. So as an experiment, I decided to cast (in my mental movie version) all of the characters in "Caves" with actors in L&O. It actually worked out extremely well. Can't remember all the details, but some of the actors did a great job -- Chris Noth as the lead detective (was his name Elijah?), Mariska Hargitay as his wife, Benjamin Bratt as the robot sidekick, Dann Florek as the chief spacer scientiest, Jerry Orbach as Elijah's boss, Vincent D'Onofrio as some sort of xenophobic hothead. I could go on, but you've already stopped reading anyway.

lokakuu 4, 2007, 10:30pm

#28 - Actually, that's fascinating. I don't watch that show, but I know what most of those actors look like. They all do fit the characters from the book. Interesting.

lokakuu 5, 2007, 4:44am

They do indeed... quick, let's make the movie!

lokakuu 5, 2007, 10:20am

I'm about half-way through and enjoying it. I like the L&O analogy, that works for me!

lokakuu 5, 2007, 11:27am

For me, because of having watched 'I, Robot' several years back, I keep seeing Will Smith as Elijah.

lokakuu 5, 2007, 11:33am

#30 We could, but Jerry Orbach died. I do like the idea, tho.

lokakuu 5, 2007, 12:06pm


Sparse means too bare to me. I think Asimov gets his ideas out cleanly, without gaps, but with little beauty, or flourish, so utilitarian may be the word I use.

lokakuu 5, 2007, 2:22pm

#34 - I didn't say 'sparce' I said 'spare.' But I get what you mean.

To me 'spare' means 'lean'... no fat or filler. ;o) It's a good thing.

lokakuu 6, 2007, 12:01am

So far I'm not that impressed. Should I keep going?

lokakuu 6, 2007, 6:33pm

I've never been a huge SF fan, but I like this book for some reason. Perhaps the writing style is why. When I have tried to read SF before, whatever I have chosen seemed bogged down with descriptions that I just couldn't get my mind around. This book seems more plot-oriented rather than setting-oriented.

lokakuu 7, 2007, 12:17am

Weird symmetry - I just watched "I, Robot" on DVD this weekend, and was reading "Caves of Steel" at the same time - it was somewhat "surreal".:)

#36: It's a little slow at first - keep with it - I had the same problem with "Fellowship of the Ring".

lokakuu 7, 2007, 11:39pm

I'll go to page 50. That's my cut-off. I've been busy with other things this weekend, but maybe Monday I can read more.

lokakuu 8, 2007, 12:53pm

#37 hobbitprincess - strange, how different people read the same book. I felt like it was far more setting-oriented than plot-oriented.

lokakuu 8, 2007, 1:11pm

#37,40 - Well, I thought it was idea-oriented with a setting being some random time way in the future and the plot being some random mystery .

Oh, and the idea being human-robot relationships .

lokakuu 13, 2007, 11:51am

So, have all of you that were reading this finished yet?

Are there some of you still working on the book?