“There is Something to be Said About a Podcast That Makes One Smile”
This is the city, Eos, Aurora. It’s the city of the dawn on the planet of the dawn. It’s the largest and most important city on the oldest and most important Spacer World. Mostly, good things happen in Eos, the Robotics Institute is in Eos as is the planetary government. Sometimes bad things happen; things that require a lot of discussion. Was the victim even alive? Was this even a crime? Questions that need answers. When that happens, I go to work. I carry a badge.
Friday, October 30. It was windy in Eos. We were working the day watch out of the roboticide division. Our host is Han Fastolfe. My partner’s Daneel Olivaw. My name is Baley.
Join us as we get into the meat of The Robots of Dawn. Baley starts to learn the details of the case, and Fastolfe performs some experiments on Baley. Plus the return of an old friend, the wackiest trip to the lavatory in all of the Asimov canon, and the Great and Glorious Az tries his hand at writing romance. As always, you’ve read it, we talk about it, and fun will be had.
Do you know what a “teaser” is? You probably do, but just in case I’ll tell you anyway.
A teaser is the bit of a teevee episode that precedes the opening. Nothing much happens in a teaser except to set up the action and hopefully grab your attention. A wedding on the Enterprise is interrupted by a red alert. A landing party beams down to Cestus III to find the outpost destroyed. Chekov screams in terror because he’s been startled by an inexplicably elderly couple. You get the idea.
And boy, does the Great and Glorious Az have a teaser for you! A quick 126 pages of astral viewing, etymology, rhetoric, and a description of a government official that made Joseph’s wife, Joanne, groan in faux outrage. That’s the first three chapters of The Robots of Dawn and not a whole hell of a lot happens.
We talk about it, you listen to us. A splendid time will be had by all. Hopefully.
Also, a spoiler warning. If you’re new to the podcast and haven’t finished the novel yet, you might want to read ahead before listening to the episode. Or not. It’s up to you.
“A Small Podcast Yet to the Humans Involved Astonishingly Large”
We didn’t set out to do it, but we did it.
What, you might ask? We’ve created an episode that’s an excellent jumping-on point for anyone who’s been itching to try the podcast, but doesn’t know where to start.
How? Well to start with, we’re talking about a short story. You don’t need to read the books or watch the shows we talk about to enjoy the podcast, but we certainly understand if want to! We’re talking about “Mirror Image” from Robot Visions, in which Lije Baley and R. Daneel Olivaw help to solve a dispute between two mathematicians. It’s about 19 pages long, a comfortable, digestible chunk.
And? And we have guests! Episodes are better with guests and we’re joined by two charming mathematicians, Coleen and Charlie Jacobson, long-time science fiction readers and friends of Joseph from Elmira College. They’ll help us decide if the off-screen mathematicians are true-to-life! On a personal note, if you remember Joseph from EC you might enjoy hearing from half of what he calls, the “Mathematics Faculty Classic” that existed from 2012 to 2014.
So, if you’re a regular listener, settle in for another excellent episode. If you’re new to the podcast, buckle up! You’re in for a fun ride! Let’s go!
Two notes on the Featured Image: The background is some board work from 2016 when Joseph taught Geometry from Charlie’s notes. In the foreground are two images of Paul Erdös, one at age 20 and one much later in his life, drawn by LeUyen Pham from The Boy Who Loved Math. Erdös is famous for being one of the most prolific mathematicians of all time and for having a multitude of collaborators.
Did you know that when Elements are named to honor cities the Latin names for the cities are used rather than the common names? The funny thing is that this is true even if the city has no Latin name. This is how we get the name for holmium, which is named after Stockholm or rather after “Holmia” which is the Latin name for Stockholm that the chemist made up.
This is from the essay “Names! Names! Names!” by the good doctor. It’s all about naming elements and, although I haven’t quite finished it yet, I’m pretty sure it covers all hundred or so that were known at the time.
The essay appeared in the December 1956 issue of Astounding Science Fiction, the very same issue as our final installment of The Naked Sun. This led John W. Campbell to declare Asimov a “two-headed author.” Isaac’s predilection for non-fiction was starting to show.
Being trained as a chemist, Asimov gives us a ton of Asenion names to enjoy in this final section! There’s GlaDIEah Delmarre, Klorissa Cantero, Jothan Leebig, Corwin Attlebish, and Anselmo Quemot. And who could forget Benzadril Copperbottom? In this final section, which corresponds to chapters 13 to 18 in the book, Baley survives the assassination attempt, gets his portrait done, almost strolls to his death, and solves the case! Of course, we talk about it all. Join us for the setting of The Naked Sun!
Looking back over our podcast, it turns out that a lot of Asimov’s work is weird. Solaria may not be Mycogen-weird, but it’s pretty weird.
Last time we were introduced to the extreme isolation of Solarians and the preponderance of robots. Those were weird. And that seeing vs. viewing thing? That was weird too.
This time? Murder attempts where only Asenion robots are present? Weird. Fetuses grown in vats? Weird. Child farming? Weird. A plot to make the entire Galaxy like Solaria? Weird. And there’s lots more!
So, what do we learn this time? Solaria is weird. But don’t take my word for it, listen to the episode and you can see for yourself! Let’s go!
That corresponds to chapters 7 through 12 in the book.
There’s less hype this time except for the presence of part one in the October issue; Part two was not mentioned in Campbell’s Things to Come and wasn’t on the issue’s cover. Who is James H. Schmitz by the way? I don’t know!
But that doesn’t mean that nothing happened in this installment!
We see the aftermath of the assassination attempt of Hannis Gruer and learn what constitutes “sociology” on Solaria. We meet Gruer’s stand-in as Head of Security and watch as Baley gets to go walkabout across the planet. We also learn an uncomfortable amount about Solarian childrearing and witness a second, seemingly impossible assassination attempt on this world so filled with three-laws robots!
Here’s John W. Campbell’s blurb that precedes this installment!
Second of Three Parts. Lije Baley was investigating a murder. Usually, an alibi proves physical impossibility; on robot-dominated Solaria, a different question arose. Is a robot’s conditioning “physical” or “psychological” impossibility? And is there any such thing as “psychological impossibility”? And if it exists for robots, does it for humans…?
Astounding Science Fiction November 1956
The illustrations this time are again by H. R. Van Dongen.
The available scans were not great, but I cleaned up the images as much as possible. If I keep this up, I may need to learn a lot more about that process.
Season 3, Episode 19: coming soon to anywhere the finest podcasts are sold!
Asimov, Isaac. “The Naked Sun, part 2” Astounding Science Fiction, November 1956, pp. 96-151.
Some things can’t be seen. If you’ve listened to our podcast, you know that we’ve bemoaned the fact that although there was a BBC adaptation of The Caves of Steel, we cannot see it because all known copies of the original tapes have been destroyed.
Did you know that there was also a BBC adaptation of The Naked Sun? It came out in the third season of Out Of The Unknown and starred Paul Maxwell as Elijah Baley and David Collings as R. Daneel. We can’t see that either. You’d think that the BBC would have learned its lesson by 1969, but no such luck. All known copies of those tapes have been destroyed as well.
And then there’s Joseph’s friend Andy, our special guest in this episode. He has studiously avoided having a social media presence and so he’s something else that can’t be seen, online anyway.
In The Naked Sun, we learn all about things that can’t be seen. Lije wants to see the crime scene and he wants to see the outside and he especially wants to see Gladia but the Solarians are determined that he only view these things. Seeing is not the same as viewing.
But sometimes we can hear even if we can’t see. That episode of Out Of The Unknown? There’s a reconstruction, so the soundtrack must still exist. You can hear that if you can find a copy.
You can hear Andy here on the podcast, in his World Wide Web premier.
And you can hear about chapters 1 through 6 of The Naked Sun because that’s what we’re talking about this time. We’ll get to that viewing vs. seeing thing and much more!
In our last episode, we reached the end of The Caves of Steel. In our next episode, now in post-production, we continue our trip through the Robot Novels with The Naked Sun. We’re joined as our latest special guest by Joseph’s old friend Andy who has no discernable social media presence.
Asimov serialized The Caves of Steel in Galaxy Science Fiction because the editor, Horace Gold, suggested the idea of a human detective with a robot partner.
But three years later Asimov was increasingly interested in writing popular science and hadn’t published anything with John W. Campbell in a while. He decided to return to his roots and The Naked Sun was serialized in Astounding.
And Campbell did his best to capitalize on the famous author’s return. The month before its first segment ran The Naked Sun dominated Campbell’s “In Times to Come” column which highlighted coming attractions. Here’s what he had to say.
On the cover of next month’s issue, you’ll see Mr. Lije Baley, Earthman detective, coming out from underground into the light of The Naked Sun. Isaac Asimov’s new serial is bringing Elijah Baley and his robot partner, Daneel, on another detecting mission. But while the surface activity is that of determining who killed a man when it was self-evidently impossible, the real and important problem Baley has to solve is far more complex. Essentially, it is… “Which Way Is UP? Which way is forward?”
And this time, the problem lies on one of the Outer Planets; agoraphobic Elijah Baley has to solve a problem under the conditions least endurable to him — out under The Naked Sun
In this section, Baley is assigned to a murder case on Solaria, the newest of the Spacer worlds. He’s reunited with R. Daneel and we see him struggling with his agoraphobia in planes, spaceships, automobiles, and also in a big fancy house built just for him. We also learn about the murder and meet Gladia (pronounced gla-DEE-ah) Delmarre who is destined to become a major character and helps put the naked in The Naked Sun.
Here are the opening pages and the remaining illustrations by H. R. Van Dongen.
Season 3, Episode 17: coming soon to the aether near you!
Asimov, Isaac. “The Naked Sun, part 1” Astounding Science Fiction, October 1956, pp. 8-62.
It was right about this time last year; one of us got up in the middle of the night to share the latest Foundation trailer with you right here on this website.
This year there was a sneak peek of Foundation season 2 at San Diego Comic-Con. It’s more than a week later and we haven’t seen it anywhere. If that’s about generating interest, they’re missing the mark.
Also, in S3E13, we talked about how Asimov said he made “extensive changes” to “Liar!” when he revised it for I, Robot. Want to know why? Want to know how extensive? We plug our line-by-line comparison!
Also, also way back in S1E01, we talked about Joseph’s Grandfather’s artwork. There’s now a website where you can see and enjoy that artwork! Please visit JosephFranke.com and see why there’s such a fuss!
All this plus: we wrap up our conversation about The Caves of Steel! Jessie is revealed as a Medievalist! Another murder rocks the NYPD… wait… is it murder? And in the final denouement, we discover who did it in this who done it! You don’t want to miss all that! Let’s go!
Episode 15 of Season 3 dropped this morning and episode 16 is already in post-production. in it, we’ll be finishing up The Caves of Steel, reading and discussing the third and final installment that ran in Galaxy Science Fiction in December 1953.
Our novel is not featured on the cover again, this time passed over for a nice holiday-themed illustration. Galaxy, evidently had a series of those.
In this concluding installment, Jessie confesses to conspiracy, Lije and Daneel play bad cop, uncomfortably robotic cop with a suspect and Baley cracks the case!
Here’s the promotion for this installment of The Caves of Steel from Galaxy’s November Issue.
Ed Emshwiller provides the artwork and we once again open with a two-page spread.
And here’s the rest of the synopsis if you want to refresh your memory about what’s already happened before you read the last installment or listen to our next episode.
And here are the remaining illustrations from the story. Below we see Daneel closing on Clousarr during the interrogation (left), and R. Sammy as a murder vic… uh… property damage (right). We should keep our legal terms straight.
The final image shows Baley projecting the crime scene for Daneel and the commissioner.