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.
“I’m sure that if non-Asenion podcasts were ever designed or if the mathematical theory were worked out we’d hear of it.”
We’re not an etymology podcast even though we sometimes make up our own words. Nevertheless, if you follow our blog you’ve recently read about the origins of the words “robot” and “robotics.” Asimov has been known to make up his own words too. In fact, he’s credited in the Oxford English Dictionary as the originator of the word “robotics.”
In this episode, we learn the origin of the word “Asenion” through a miraculous combination of brilliance, scholarship, and real-time detective work which the uninitiated might dismiss as mere Google-fu. Did the Great and Glorious Az invent the word “Asenion?” You’ll have to listen to find out!
Meanwhile, we ruminate over the second section of
the Caves of Steel in which Baley throws around some wild theories, learns the sinister, not-so-sinister, or not-sinister-at-all designs of Spacetown, and sees an object eerily similar to a slide rule. If you think that sounds like fun, you’re in for a wild ride! Join us!
We’re not recording our next episode until Saturday, but if you’re reading ahead, we’ll be discussing chapters 8-13 of The Caves of Steel, corresponding to the second installment that was published in Galaxy Science Fiction in November 1953.
It’s an interesting issue. Asimov didn’t score the cover this time. The cover references the non-fiction piece about the famous experiment that saw complex amino acids generating spontaneously when the conditions on primordial Earth were recreated in a laboratory.
Also of interest is “Galaxy’s 5-Star Shelf.” which reviews a compilation of Olaf Stapledon’s work, the non-fiction Man in Space by Heinz Haber, Second Stage Lensman by E. E. (Doc) Smith, Against the Fall of Night by Arthur C. Clarke and Second Foundation. In that last review, Groff Conklin calls the now-completed Foundation Trilogy “Our first great sociological space opera.” He compares it favorably with Smith’s Lensman series saying, “…Asimov’s work, based as it is on fairly sound social principles and the activities of fairly normal human beings, has a pressing sense of reality that Smith’s fairy tales lack…” He concludes “it is a thoroughly satisfying and adult play of the scientific imagination.”
But back to The Caves of Steel. Here’s the promotion for this installment in Galaxy’s October Issue.
And here are some pages from the story.
I’m particularly liking the opening two-page spread, with artwork once again by Ed Emshwiller. It depicts the encounter in Chapter 8. The synopsis is nicely done as well and continues for the entire next page. Here’s the remainder in case you want to remind yourself of the last installment before continuing to read this one.
Finally, here are the rest of the illustrations from the story. We have Lije and Daneel leaving Space Town (top right), traveling through a power plant (left), and Daneel being examined by Dr. Gerrigel, a roboticist.
Just over a century ago, the word “robot,” derived from the Czech word “robota” which means “forced labor,” was introduced to the English language in the play R. U. R. by Karel Čapek. In it, a scientist has created artificial humans, called “roboti” or “robots.” Robots replace workers in factories, then become the basis of the economy. Eventually, the robots revolt, supplant humanity and ultimately cause humankind’s extinction.
In an interesting coincidence, R. U. R. debuted on 2 January 1921, The Great and Glorious Az’s first birthday! Who would have suspected that Ol’ Isaac and the word “robot” would be astrologically equivalent?
In this episode, we start discussing Asimov’s The Caves of Steel where the theme of robots replacing humans looms large. There’s already a palpable sense of economic anxiety within the New York Police Department as lower-level employees have already been replaced. Now Detective Elijah Baley is assigned a robot partner named R. Daneel Olivaw who is all but indistinguishable from a human being. It’s essential that Baley not only solve a murder but solve it in a way that doesn’t lead to many more humans being supplanted by robots.
We just recorded our latest episode last night and we’re back to reading the works of the Great and Glorious Az.
We’re thrilled to announce that, by popular demand, we’ll be reading the Robot Novels beginning at the beginning with The Caves of Steel. That’s my go-to novel if I want to introduce someone to Asimov’s work.
This novel was written at a time when Asimov was trying to get away from being a “one-editor-writer” and so he was working with, among others, Horace Gold of Galaxy Science Fiction. Gold had serialized The Stars, Like Dust in Galaxy under the title Tyrann and he was anxious to serialize another. He suggested a novel about robots, but Asimov declined. Robots, thought Asimov, were for short stories; the ideas wouldn’t carry an entire novel.
So Gold suggested that Asimov write a detective story where the detective had a robot partner and Elijah Baley and R. Daneel Olivaw were born. John W. Campbell had always claimed that a science fiction mystery story was a contradiction-in-terms and Asimov wanted to prove him wrong. The Caves of Steel became Asimov’s most successful book up to that point.
But first, it was serialized in Galaxy Science Fiction in October, November, and December of 1953. For this episode, we’re reading the first installment which corresponds to chapters 1-7 in the book. If you’re interested in reading The Caves of Steel as it first appeared, you can find that issue of Galaxy here courtesy of Archive.org but either way, you can enjoy the original artwork by Ed Emshwiller right here. Our episode will be out in a few days!