Fiction Reviews

Isaac Asimovís Caliban, Imperium, and Utopia

(1998) Roger MacBride Allen, Orion, £4.99, £4.99, £5.99, pbk, ISBN 1857981695, 185798403X, 0752809865


This trilogy (of which each book can be read separately) is a re-examination of Asimovís Three Laws of Robotics. A roboticist in the future, not satisfied with the way robots are ďfeather-beddingĒ humans, removing challenges, tries a modification to the three laws and then, daringly, also constructs a robot brain with no laws whatever.

The resultant chaos - murder, kidnapping, blackmail, a comet used to terraform a planet - is marvellously written, and fascinating intellectual arguments and action scenes alternate. Highly recommended.

Allen, who started writing in the 1980ís, is in my opinion the best author to arrive in the genre since Niven. His work seems to embrace any concept, from regular Space Opera to the pair of superscience books Ring of Charon and Shattered Sphere. Iím delighted to have found him.

Vince Clarke

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