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[Because My Tears Are Delicious To You] The Caves of Steel by Isaac Asimov
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James Nicoll
2019-05-12 14:53:05 UTC
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The Caves of Steel by Isaac Asimov

https://jamesdavisnicoll.com/review/cops-and-robots
--
My reviews can be found at http://jamesdavisnicoll.com/
My tor pieces at https://www.tor.com/author/james-davis-nicoll/
My Dreamwidth at https://james-davis-nicoll.dreamwidth.org/
My patreon is at https://www.patreon.com/jamesdnicoll
Quadibloc
2019-05-12 17:07:06 UTC
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Post by James Nicoll
The Caves of Steel by Isaac Asimov
https://jamesdavisnicoll.com/review/cops-and-robots
Although we all know his real name is Elijah Bailey, he was referred to as Lije
Baley in the book. I mean, why not call his partner R. Daniel Oliver? Or is my memory playing tricks on me again...

John Savard
Jerry Brown
2019-05-12 19:44:00 UTC
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On Sun, 12 May 2019 10:07:06 -0700 (PDT), Quadibloc
Post by Quadibloc
Post by James Nicoll
The Caves of Steel by Isaac Asimov
https://jamesdavisnicoll.com/review/cops-and-robots
Although we all know his real name is Elijah Bailey, he was referred to as Lije
Baley in the book. I mean, why not call his partner R. Daniel Oliver? Or is my memory playing tricks on me again...
My best guess is that Spacers' naming conventions had drifted from
Earth-based ones and Daneel was named by his Spacer creator (IIRC he
was named something like Falstaff but with the letters moved around a
bit).
Post by Quadibloc
John Savard
--
Jerry Brown

A cat may look at a king
(but probably won't bother)
Jerry Brown
2019-05-12 19:54:22 UTC
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On Sun, 12 May 2019 20:44:00 +0100, Jerry Brown
Post by Jerry Brown
On Sun, 12 May 2019 10:07:06 -0700 (PDT), Quadibloc
Post by Quadibloc
Post by James Nicoll
The Caves of Steel by Isaac Asimov
https://jamesdavisnicoll.com/review/cops-and-robots
Although we all know his real name is Elijah Bailey, he was referred to as Lije
Baley in the book. I mean, why not call his partner R. Daniel Oliver? Or is my memory playing tricks on me again...
My best guess is that Spacers' naming conventions had drifted from
Earth-based ones and Daneel was named by his Spacer creator (IIRC he
was named something like Falstaff but with the letters moved around a
bit).
Just read James' review and that name I (incorrectly) recalled must
have been some other character, maybe in The Naked Sun.
--
Jerry Brown

A cat may look at a king
(but probably won't bother)
Moriarty
2019-05-12 22:42:15 UTC
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Post by Jerry Brown
On Sun, 12 May 2019 20:44:00 +0100, Jerry Brown
Post by Jerry Brown
On Sun, 12 May 2019 10:07:06 -0700 (PDT), Quadibloc
Post by Quadibloc
Post by James Nicoll
The Caves of Steel by Isaac Asimov
https://jamesdavisnicoll.com/review/cops-and-robots
Although we all know his real name is Elijah Bailey, he was referred to as Lije
Baley in the book. I mean, why not call his partner R. Daniel Oliver? Or is my memory playing tricks on me again...
My best guess is that Spacers' naming conventions had drifted from
Earth-based ones and Daneel was named by his Spacer creator (IIRC he
was named something like Falstaff but with the letters moved around a
bit).
Just read James' review and that name I (incorrectly) recalled must
have been some other character, maybe in The Naked Sun.
You're thinking of Han Fastolfe, one of the co-creators of R. Daneel.

-Moriarty
Quadibloc
2019-05-13 01:58:23 UTC
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Post by Jerry Brown
My best guess is that Spacers' naming conventions had drifted from
Earth-based ones and Daneel was named by his Spacer creator (IIRC he
was named something like Falstaff but with the letters moved around a
bit).
Are you sure you're not thinking of Volstagg, from the pages of Journey into
Mystery?

John Savard
Robert Carnegie
2019-05-12 21:51:06 UTC
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Post by Quadibloc
Post by James Nicoll
The Caves of Steel by Isaac Asimov
https://jamesdavisnicoll.com/review/cops-and-robots
Although we all know his real name is Elijah Bailey, he was referred to as Lije
Baley in the book. I mean, why not call his partner R. Daniel Oliver? Or is my memory playing tricks on me again...
John Savard
Split the difference?
<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elijah_Baley>

Lije is an abbreviation, I suppose; other names
apparently are actually contracted (Roj).

Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor comes to mind;
my uncertain understanding is that Archie is named
after a man with the surname Archer, but Archie
is just Archie.

Roj Blake also comes to mind...
David Johnston
2019-05-12 19:21:30 UTC
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Post by James Nicoll
The Caves of Steel by Isaac Asimov
https://jamesdavisnicoll.com/review/cops-and-robots
I think the Caves of Steel is the best book Asimov ever wrote.
Johnny1A
2019-05-12 19:51:49 UTC
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Post by James Nicoll
The Caves of Steel by Isaac Asimov
https://jamesdavisnicoll.com/review/cops-and-robots
--
This is another example of a book with faster than light drives, artificial intelligence, and male-female relationships right out of the 1950s. Readers who would prefer not to think of this book as hopelessly dated in this matter could always tell themselves that society cycled around back to relegating women to unpaid positions, as a vain attempt to reduce the number of the officially jobless.<
Interestingly, Asimov actually makes a comment in one Bailey story that there's a cyclic tendency on that very point.

This book exemplifies several themes that ran through much of Asimov's writings, then and later. For ex, the City (capitol C) of New York is a seal environment, either underground or in buildings that are entirely closed off, and as a result almost all the natives suffer from intense agoraphobia. The very thought of being outside gives them the shivers and some people just can't handle it at all.

Asimov shows the same trope on Trantor, the capitol planet of the Empire in the Foundation series (which he later retconned into one universe with the Bailey stories), turned up to 11. The whole planet is one big archeological City, with the same agoraphobic tendencies.

Asimov himself admitted to being something of a claustrophile, which is part of where that trope comes from, but there has to be more to it than that for him to have used it so extensively.

The overpopulation thing permeated SF at that time (and still shows up more than it really should today). Asimov, Clarke, Heinlein, they all use it and seem to take it for granted in various forms. Later Larry Niven would do the same thing, only Niven really should have known better (esp. since his frequent collaborator Pournelle most definitely recognized that it was bogus).
J. Clarke
2019-05-13 01:27:15 UTC
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On Sun, 12 May 2019 12:51:49 -0700 (PDT), Johnny1A
Post by Johnny1A
Post by James Nicoll
The Caves of Steel by Isaac Asimov
https://jamesdavisnicoll.com/review/cops-and-robots
--
This is another example of a book with faster than light drives, artificial intelligence, and male-female relationships right out of the 1950s. Readers who would prefer not to think of this book as hopelessly dated in this matter could always tell themselves that society cycled around back to relegating women to unpaid positions, as a vain attempt to reduce the number of the officially jobless.<
Interestingly, Asimov actually makes a comment in one Bailey story that there's a cyclic tendency on that very point.
This book exemplifies several themes that ran through much of Asimov's writings, then and later. For ex, the City (capitol C) of New York is a seal environment, either underground or in buildings that are entirely closed off, and as a result almost all the natives suffer from intense agoraphobia. The very thought of being outside gives them the shivers and some people just can't handle it at all.
Asimov shows the same trope on Trantor, the capitol planet of the Empire in the Foundation series (which he later retconned into one universe with the Bailey stories), turned up to 11. The whole planet is one big archeological City, with the same agoraphobic tendencies.
Asimov himself admitted to being something of a claustrophile, which is part of where that trope comes from, but there has to be more to it than that for him to have used it so extensively.
The overpopulation thing permeated SF at that time (and still shows up more than it really should today). Asimov, Clarke, Heinlein, they all use it and seem to take it for granted in various forms. Later Larry Niven would do the same thing, only Niven really should have known better (esp. since his frequent collaborator Pournelle most definitely recognized that it was bogus).
A problem with the notion that women should work is that it assumes
that work is a desirable thing to do. To many people it is the awful
experience they have to endure every day in order to have food on the
table. If half of the population can find a way to avoid it and be
supported by the other half, some would consider them to be clever and
the ones who support them to be the ones who are put-upon rather than
the other way around.
Quadibloc
2019-05-13 02:03:14 UTC
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Post by J. Clarke
A problem with the notion that women should work is that it assumes
that work is a desirable thing to do. To many people it is the awful
experience they have to endure every day in order to have food on the
table. If half of the population can find a way to avoid it and be
supported by the other half, some would consider them to be clever and
the ones who support them to be the ones who are put-upon rather than
the other way around.
True, *as far as it goes*.

To the extent that this, as a desirable situation for women, exists, it is felt
that women did not by their cleverness create it, but instead it was something
that Nature gave them.

But it is also felt that as far as what some societies and cultures have done,
by limiting the access of women to paid employment, has not been positive, but
instead inimical, to the interests of women - by making it more difficult for a
woman to escape from an abusive husband, for example.

John Savard
J. Clarke
2019-05-13 02:40:41 UTC
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On Sun, 12 May 2019 19:03:14 -0700 (PDT), Quadibloc
Post by Quadibloc
Post by J. Clarke
A problem with the notion that women should work is that it assumes
that work is a desirable thing to do. To many people it is the awful
experience they have to endure every day in order to have food on the
table. If half of the population can find a way to avoid it and be
supported by the other half, some would consider them to be clever and
the ones who support them to be the ones who are put-upon rather than
the other way around.
True, *as far as it goes*.
To the extent that this, as a desirable situation for women, exists, it is felt
that women did not by their cleverness create it, but instead it was something
that Nature gave them.
But it is also felt that as far as what some societies and cultures have done,
by limiting the access of women to paid employment, has not been positive, but
instead inimical, to the interests of women - by making it more difficult for a
woman to escape from an abusive husband, for example.
And yet we find today that women, even those with highly marketable
skill sets, still do not escape from abusive husbands.
Kevrob
2019-05-13 05:37:42 UTC
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Post by J. Clarke
On Sun, 12 May 2019 19:03:14 -0700 (PDT), Quadibloc
Post by Quadibloc
Post by J. Clarke
A problem with the notion that women should work is that it assumes
that work is a desirable thing to do. To many people it is the awful
experience they have to endure every day in order to have food on the
table. If half of the population can find a way to avoid it and be
supported by the other half, some would consider them to be clever and
the ones who support them to be the ones who are put-upon rather than
the other way around.
True, *as far as it goes*.
To the extent that this, as a desirable situation for women, exists, it is felt
that women did not by their cleverness create it, but instead it was something
that Nature gave them.
But it is also felt that as far as what some societies and cultures have done,
by limiting the access of women to paid employment, has not been positive, but
instead inimical, to the interests of women - by making it more difficult for a
woman to escape from an abusive husband, for example.
And yet we find today that women, even those with highly marketable
skill sets, still do not escape from abusive husbands.
There's work, which most women do everywhere, then there's
"work outside the home," or even "work done at home, but
sold in the marketplace." Most women, lacking servants
and/or sufficiently advanced robots, do both housework
and do work that brings in money. Spouses of whatever
sex who can stay home and not do housework is a very
small percentage.

Kevin R
Juho Julkunen
2019-05-13 13:28:43 UTC
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Post by Kevrob
Post by J. Clarke
On Sun, 12 May 2019 19:03:14 -0700 (PDT), Quadibloc
Post by Quadibloc
Post by J. Clarke
A problem with the notion that women should work is that it assumes
that work is a desirable thing to do. To many people it is the awful
experience they have to endure every day in order to have food on the
table. If half of the population can find a way to avoid it and be
supported by the other half, some would consider them to be clever and
the ones who support them to be the ones who are put-upon rather than
the other way around.
True, *as far as it goes*.
To the extent that this, as a desirable situation for women, exists, it is felt
that women did not by their cleverness create it, but instead it was something
that Nature gave them.
But it is also felt that as far as what some societies and cultures have done,
by limiting the access of women to paid employment, has not been positive, but
instead inimical, to the interests of women - by making it more difficult for a
woman to escape from an abusive husband, for example.
And yet we find today that women, even those with highly marketable
skill sets, still do not escape from abusive husbands.
There's work, which most women do everywhere, then there's
"work outside the home," or even "work done at home, but
sold in the marketplace." Most women, lacking servants
and/or sufficiently advanced robots, do both housework
and do work that brings in money. Spouses of whatever
sex who can stay home and not do housework is a very
small percentage.
Housework is still work, it just doesn't come with pay, or benefits, or
respect.

Spain only recently implemented paternity leave, which has provided an
opportunity to study its effects. It turns out that the more men
partake in child-rearing, the fewer children they want.

The women, finally getting some help in bearing the burden, want
slightly more.
--
Juho Julkunen
J. Clarke
2019-05-14 00:21:56 UTC
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Post by Kevrob
Post by J. Clarke
On Sun, 12 May 2019 19:03:14 -0700 (PDT), Quadibloc
Post by Quadibloc
Post by J. Clarke
A problem with the notion that women should work is that it assumes
that work is a desirable thing to do. To many people it is the awful
experience they have to endure every day in order to have food on the
table. If half of the population can find a way to avoid it and be
supported by the other half, some would consider them to be clever and
the ones who support them to be the ones who are put-upon rather than
the other way around.
True, *as far as it goes*.
To the extent that this, as a desirable situation for women, exists, it is felt
that women did not by their cleverness create it, but instead it was something
that Nature gave them.
But it is also felt that as far as what some societies and cultures have done,
by limiting the access of women to paid employment, has not been positive, but
instead inimical, to the interests of women - by making it more difficult for a
woman to escape from an abusive husband, for example.
And yet we find today that women, even those with highly marketable
skill sets, still do not escape from abusive husbands.
There's work, which most women do everywhere, then there's
"work outside the home," or even "work done at home, but
sold in the marketplace." Most women, lacking servants
and/or sufficiently advanced robots, do both housework
and do work that brings in money. Spouses of whatever
sex who can stay home and not do housework is a very
small percentage.
I'm talking about skillsets that can bring in six figure incomes
outside the home.

Johnny1A
2019-05-12 20:00:39 UTC
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Post by James Nicoll
The Caves of Steel by Isaac Asimov
https://jamesdavisnicoll.com/review/cops-and-robots
--
Another theme of Asimov's was that 'oppressive colony/racist colony/robotic colony' bit. The exact same situation, or one close to it, showed up in his separate juvenile series about Lucky Starr. In both cases, the colonies are heavily robotized and deeply hostile to the homeworld, in part on grounds of racial or 'eugenic' purity, though in the Starr series Earth is more powerful relative to the colonies, and probably capable to defeating any given one of them in a war.

Partly, I think this arose naturally from the nature of the robot societies Asimov was exploring in his stories. He specifically came up with the Three Laws of Robotics as a way of working around the 'robot destroys its creator/Frankenstein' concept. Somehow though, over the course of his overall story arcs, he ended up writing a story about robots out of control, and portraying the consequences of their presence in society negatively.

Partly, I think this was that he himself didn't see some of these negative consequences as being negative. But many he did, and I think he discovered that many of these outcomes arose from the natural, logical consequences of the presence of the robots.

The Spacer societies of the Bailey stories are varied, but they all have a certain overtone of slave-plantation aristocracy about them, with the robots in the slave role. The robots are so designed that they don't mind this, but it has some of the same negative effects on the aristocrats that such societies usually do, the laziness and stasis.

Also, the Spacers start instinctively being careful of what they say or do to avoid triggering the robot to be distressed or intervene (First Law). Various subtle negative effects become visible.

Of course the ultimate extreme of this is when R. Daneel and R. Giskard end up _destroying Earth_. From a design POV, it's hard to imagine a more utter system failure, the First Law ends up compelling exactly what it's supposed to prevent. But it arises naturally from the logic of the situation.
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