Well, not even Babe Ruth hit a home run every at-bat. I thought this novel was, unfortunately, a huge strikeout vs other Asimov novels. The plot was 1) boring and 2) was much too focused on sex (even, but not limited to, robot sex!); in particular I really disagree with the degree to which Asimov (or his characters) equate sex with love.
It was hard to relate to Baley’s neurosis about being outdoors and being virtually crippled by a rainstorm. Yes, I get that he and all Earthpeople have been changed by generations living in enclosed cities. I got that during the last two books. This time it just seemed to get hit over and over again though.
There’s almost a cheesy bit of linkage in the book between Robots and the Foundation series. One character muses about learning so much about the human brain (via attempts to recreate it in robots) that it might be possible to predict human behavior. “We could call it, uh I dunno, … psychohistory! Yeah, I like the sound of that.” There was another bit that made me groan, where the same character wonders if, after millenia of colonization and spread throughout the galaxy, if mankind will ever forget its origins on Earth. (that was the focus of one of the Foundation books)
In the end, the big reveal is that at least one robot has inadvertently been programmed in such a way as to provide telepathic powers. The robot, Giskard, can read minds and influence them to some extent. I wonder if this might be a hint about the origins of the Second Foundation – are they really a group of robots quieting monitoring humanity’s development, still obeying the Three Laws?
Relevant xkcd today.