September 7th, 2006

Relax!  Grab a Book!

40 of 50

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  1. Ballard, J.G. — Crash
  2. Joyce, James — The Dubliners
  3. Le Guin, Ursula — Tales from Earthsea
  4. Le Guin, Ursula — The Other Wind
  5. Asimov, Isaac — The Robots of Dawn

Since I had just finished one series with The Other Wind, I figured it was time to finish another series I'd started in the past couple of years. Thus, I pulled my tattered old copy of The Robots of Dawn off the shelf. (I guess technically Robots and Empire concludes the Robots series, but I didn't know that until a few minutes ago—and this is the last of the Lije Baley books.)

I have mixed feelings about this book. Asimov really put me off in the first 30 pages or so with what seems to me obviously sexist and racist attitudes. I don't think he means to have these attitudes or is mean-spirited about them: he is a product of his generation in many ways, and it shows. I suppose I should give him some credit for writing a woman into a position of power, for example, but the manner in which he does so undermines his effort.

His dialogues—they all seem so stilted, so unnatural. Please, skip the "witty" banter and get to the meat of the story, Isaac! He seems so much more in command when writing about robots and technology than people.

That said, I forced myself to finish the book and found myself enjoying it towards the end. Though it all seems a bit too put-on, he does create some compelling situations, and his writing has good pace to it. Heck, I think I would still consider reading Robots and Empire and then the Empire and Foundation series at some point. I'm certainly not in a rush, though.

A friend and I were discussing Asimov last week. We both agree: although he has written a lot of thought-provoking and enjoyable stuff, we don't feel he will ultimately stand the test of time. He's no Tolkien, Lewis, or Le Guin!