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Science Fiction Index


A novel by Roger MacBride-Allen
(1994, ACE Science Fiction)

Isaac Asimov's Robots, book 2

When the Governor of Inferno is murdered, Sheriff Kresh sorts through Spacers, Settlers and a Lawless robot as suspects.


-- First reading (hardcover)
December 6th to 9th, 1999

Read December 6th to 9th, 1999  

This one started out so much better than Caliban.  I loved it all the way through, until the last few pages.  I had to read Kresh's solution to the murder three times, and go back over some of the testimonies, and still I didn't get it.  How to spoil a book!

Spoiler review:

The book actually takes half its length before the murder takes place.  It is a very organized event.  The Governor is having a party, and just about everyone who might want to murder him is there.  A brawl takes place, during which a stranger walks in.  That mobilizes some tampered robots, who can be conveniently deactivated when the stranger wants to commit the murder. 

Kresh is on duty, because he wants to protect the governor.  However, the party took place on the Governor's residence on the island of Purgatory, which is owned by the Settlers, who are starting the terraforming project, and is protected by their police force.  But the residence is technically a Spacer place, protected by the Governor's Rangers. 

Kresh suspects everybody.  But nobody seems capable of committing the murder, or orchestrating such an elaborate plan. 

The investigation is very intense, and moves quickly from one thing to the next.  Clues pile up, but Kresh doesn't know what to make of them.  Then there's Donald, the Sheriff's robot.  He hates Caliban so much (because he IS capable of killing a human) that he's convinced Caliban is the murderer, which biases the investigation further. 

It is so exciting, that I had trouble putting the book down at any time.  So when I was nearing the end, and we knew that Kresh had solved the case, I was very interested to know myself, because I had no clue whatsoever. 

Unfortunately, I still have no clue.  Things got so complicated during the exposition that I got lost, and had to retread the entire chapter twice.  Finally, after sifting through interviews and pages of clues, I gave up.  Quite disappointing for such an amazing book -for all but the last ten pages.  And then it sort of ended way too quickly. 

On another note, I think it's wise that they get rid of the New Law Robots.  The laws are so vague, that, like Prospero, their "leader", they can be interpreted to mean anything.  And if it is only a matrix that has to be imbedded with the new laws, then someone can essentially make a no law robot like Caliban, and create an underground, illegal, robotic army.  I'm surprised that nobody has thought of that, now that the gravitonic brains seem to be on the market.


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