2004-06-18 · in Books, "I, Robot" Universe · 295 words

You are attempting to commit suicide. I am not required to comply with your orders under these circumstances.

I'm trying to save myself, Derec said. If you really want me to live, you'll step aside and give me a chance.

I will take you to a safe place within the community—

There are no safe places here! Derec shouted. Don't you understand?

Two stories set in Asimov's "I, Robot" universe, written by different authors. There's actually a complete series of these books continuing the storyline, which — very loosely — is that an unknown intelligence has enabled the construction of a society consisting entirely of robots, and the robots are thus at somewhat of a loss as to what they should be doing. (One of the things, apparently, is trying to figure out what the "Laws of Humanics" should be.)

Neither author is anything like as good as Asimov is — McQuay a little better than Kube-McDowell — but they both manage to find a few interesting corner cases in the Laws of Robotics, and to invent some cool new technologies (I particularly liked the entire-city-as-robot idea). The first story is fairly random space opera, where the protagonist — Derec — wakes up with no idea who he is inside a mysterious robot-constructed complex and tries to figure out what's going on. The second continues where the first left off (in immediate plot terms, although it leaves many of the interesting plot lines from the first book hanging in mid-air), and is a mystery story in which Derec attempts to solve the murder of the first man to visit Robot City.

This isn't remarkable SF by any stretch of the imagination, but if you've read Asimov's earlier work in the same universe then it'll probably be of some interest.