Tag: Conflict

Isaac Asimov – The Robots of Dawn | Review

Title: The Robots of Dawn

Author: Isaac Asimov

Type: Fiction

Page Count: 480

Rating: 3.5/5

This book is one of the installments in Asimov’s Robot series, and so that makes it essentially a science fiction detective novel with a whole bunch of ethics thrown in. Asimov is probably most famous for creating the three laws of Robotics, which are the following:

  1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
  2. A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
  3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws.

What’s fun about this book, like the other books that tie in with these laws, is that Asimov basically created them only so that he could bend and break them. We get some great examples of that here, including some suggestions of scenarios which could cause two of the laws to come into conflict with themselves and to cause a robot to overload.

Then we have the morality side of things. In fact, the whole case here revolves around the murder of a robot, and so there’s a lot of discussion around whether such a thing is even possible. After all, robots aren’t alive, right? There’s even some stuff on how while you can use roboticide and homicide, the word murder” doesn’t seem to quite apply.

Obviously I don’t want to go too much into the details of the plot, because the last thing that I want to do is to spoil it for people. What I will say is that it holds its own both as a science fiction novel and as a mystery novel, and indeed I think that Asimov is one of the underrated masters of the genre. I’ve read a mystery of his called A Whiff of Death which was set in our world on an American college campus, and that was fantastic.

Another piece of good news is that despite the fact that this is the third book in a series, you can still read it as a standalone if you want to. Sure, you’ll get a little more out of it if you follow the series through from start to finish, but it’s not a hard and fast rule and all that you miss out on is a little character development.

So all of this brings us on to the final big question of whether this is worth reading or not, and my answer to that would be 100% yes. Asimov is a fantastic writer no matter what he’s doing, and while there are other books of his that are a lot of fun, this is great too. Jeez, he always is.

Learn more about The Robots of Dawn.

 


Lucy Cruickshanks – The Road to Rangoon | Review

Title: The Road to Rangoon

Author: Lucy Cruickshanks

Type: Fiction

Page Count/Review Word Count: 440

Rating: 3.5/5

 

Lucy Cruickshanks - The Road to Rangoon

Lucy Cruickshanks – The Road to Rangoon

 

This is the second of two books that Lucy has written and which are set in Burma, and I was kind of expecting this one to be a sequel. It wasn’t, at least as far as I could tell, but that didn’t stop me from enjoying it. Perhaps it’s not the kind of book that I’d usually read, but I’m still glad that I picked it up.

Cruickshanks has a knack for establishing a sense of place, and when you’re reading this book it really feels as though you’re there. The plot was great as well, although I wasn’t too attached to the characters. I think the characters were better in the first book but that the plot was better in this one, so perhaps it just depends on what kind of reader you are.

Another good thing about this book was how quick and easy it was to read. I whizzed through it in two or three days and when I finished, it felt like I’d just got back from a holiday. It wasn’t much of a holiday though, because the book is set during the 1980s before armed conflict in the country led to it changing its name from Burma to Myanmar. Rangoon was also changed to Yangon, which means that even the title of this book helps to establish a sense of time and place.

 

Lucy Cruikshanks

Lucy Cruikshanks

 

Because of that, this novel is a sort of weird mixture between literary fiction, historical fiction and a sort of military thriller. I can’t think of anything that I’ve read that’s quite like it, and I read a lot of different stuff. I’d be interested to know what some of Cruickshanks’ inspirations were when she wrote this, although I also watch her talk about books on BookTube and so I already know what she’s into.

So would I recommend this one? Yes and no, because I don’t think it’s quite right for everyone. That said, I think if the synopsis sounds good and you have some sort of interest in Burma then it’s pretty much a no-brainer, because it’s well-written, well-edited and an all-round professional release. The only reason I can think of that someone might not like it would be if they’re just not that interested in the subject matter.

All in all, then, Lucy did a great job with this one and I think it was a worthy follow-up to her first book. She didn’t just try to imitate herself and that’s to be commended. Good stuff.

 

Lucy Cruikshanks - The Trader of Saigon

Lucy Cruikshanks – The Trader of Saigon

 

Click here to buy The Road to Rangoon.