Strength of characters Gladia, Baley, and Fastolfe
Human vs. robot characteristics
Conflict between characters
Qualities of Robots of Dawn
Isaac Asimov, was a writer with a flair for creativity when it came to human society, especially when dealing with robots. He envisioned interstellar empires run by fragile and sometimes misguided humans, with robots made in their image, guiding them away from destruction. Asimov's stories force readers to think about the future about life on other planets as well as living with robots. By focusing on personal characteristics, differing morals, and descriptive settings, Asimov makes a convincing statement about the human condition in a futuristic society.
Asimov was born in Russia in the year 1920. He and his parents emigrated to the United States when he was three years old. He taught himself to read and by the age of seven, he had his own library card.
Asimov was considered brilliant when he entered school and graduated the Boys' High School in Brooklyn when he was fifteen years old. He received a B.S. from Colombia University in 1939, a Masters in 1941, and then a Ph.D. In 1948. (Fiedler 3) Asimov did not think of writing as a career; instead he wanted to pursue a career in chemistry. Writing, in his opinion, was an amusement.
However, Asimov's father encouraged him to write and bought him his first typewriter. In1938, Asimov saw his first story in print in a magazine called "Amazing Stories." Asimov continued writing for the next eleven years in order to pay his way through college. During this time, he joined a science fiction fan club titled, "The Futurians." (Knight 26) He was able to pay his way up through his Ph.D. In biochemistry. But it was not until his first novel, Pebble in the Sky, was published in 1950 that he began to take his writing seriously.
In 1958, he quit his job at Boston University School of Medicine, and took up writing as a career.
Asimov wrote basically science fiction stories about robots, but has published many stories, essays, and novels that cover many subjects. (Bloom 251).
Asimov is considered by many to be the father of robot writers, creating robots who integrated into society to hold such positions as scientists and detectives. In his novels, robots were creations to be feared but also respected. Asimov also invented the three laws of robotics which provided him endless ideas for his plots. Asimov liked to work puzzling and mysterious stories around his robots and produced countless clever scenarios.
Asimov was a visionary in that he was the first writer to take a different look at how robots might fit into society. With his forward thinking, Asimov demonstrated the possibilities that lay within machine intelligence. He handled the idea of machine intelligence carefully and realistically, always with a sense of caution and respect. He also approached the concept of humans living with robots realistically. An example of how he perceived humans and robots living together can be seen in his laws of robotics. The first law states that a robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm. The second law states that a robot must obey orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the first law. The third says that a robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the first or second laws.
This illustrates Asimov's ability to comprehend the underlying fear humans would experience in such a circumstances should occur.
Robots of Dawn is a continuation of Asimov's series of "robot novels;" the third in a series with Elijah Baley as the returning hero. As well as being a commentary on society, Robots of Dawn also examines the intricacies of the inter-personal relationships between the humans and the robots.
Asimov skillfully employs dynamic characters and realistic situations between the two which allow the reader to become involved with the story.
Asimov's history of the Earth is important, as it has deteriorated over thousands of years. In this futuristic setting, the Earth has a population of eight billion people crammed into large, enclosed and air-conditioned cities, organized into sections and supported largely by hydroponics. Work, such as farming and mining, was done by robots which were primitive. Food was largely processed and other produce was strictly rationed, with highly-classified citizens lively relatively well while those who were declassified were left near-destitute. The Earth has also become radioactive, which only fuels the desire for the Earth people to expand. In addition, the Earth's people had become extremely agoraphobic, never willingly venturing outside the cities until the movement to encourage emigration to colonize the galaxy had started an opposition to the robots, which were already becoming more common. The Earth's people also began to harbor resentment toward the robots' gaining power and arrogance. Over-crowding, class warfare, and resentment are tools which illustrate Asimov's ability to incorporate familiar situations into a futuristic setting, as well as instill within the reader a sense of understanding for what the Earth's people must be experiencing.
This situation is what Baley faces and he is planning to lead a group of people to become colonists when Earth gets permission to settle on other worlds. The reader is shown the importance of the settlement of other worlds, which would eventually lead to the Galatic Empire.
Asimov was successful in illustrating that robots can have not only a different kind of moral system than the humans, but a different level of intelligence as well. This is demonstrated in the characteristics of the Spacers. By exploiting the fact that humans don't handle rapid calculations very well, Asimov creates the perfect setting for Aurora, which was the first extra-solar planet settled by what Asimov referred to as the Spacers. (Asimov 43). Aurora has a completely different social society than the Earth people do and the way they go about socializing is complex. Asimov's robots engage in sex with an extremely casual attitude, and interestingly enough, sex is a considerable part of the novel. Procreation is reserved only for the married and that is the only reason that a marriage permit will be granted. Clearly, Asimov is making a conscious decision to make them different from the Earth people. He allows the Earth people to hold on to conservative beliefs while giving the robots total freedom. By giving the Aurorans their own identity, Asimov is giving them depth as well. They are not seen as cold or flat characters, but rather interesting, engaging, and sometimes likable.
However, they excelled past the humans in certain areas. The Spacers secured a monopoly of space travel at a rate of technological speed that left the Earth behind.
The Spacers invent ways to iradicate disease and through selective breeding coupled with an intense study of aging, they enjoy lifetimes that last to three centuries long. The population of Aurora stabilizes at two hundred million after about three centuries (Asimov 100). By illustrating the inability of the humans to keep up with the growing intelligence and technology of the Spacers, Asimov has created the perfect atmosphere for conflict to arise as well as illustrating the frailty of humankind.
It should be noted that there is a human side to the sexuality in Robots of Dawn as well. Asimov seems to demonstrate this sexual expression best through the character of Gladia. Gladia discusses her attempts as sex, the way it was thought of on Solaria, the ways she tried it on Aurora, and with whom she tried it. She engages in sex with Panell and forces herself on Baley while never displaying any concern, much less modesty. Fastolfe also seems to enjoy discussing sexual matters, especially in relation to his daughter, who demonstrates a greater lack of self-control that did Gladia. Asimov must have felt these inclusions necessary to round out his characters and give them even more for the reader to think about. It also leads to reader to understand that even after thousands of years, there are certain characteristics about being human that just cannot or will not change.
Another aspect of humanity that does not seem to change with out a struggle is that of survival. Baley, in an effort to rally up a group of colonists to settle in other worlds, is side-tracked by solving the mystery of the deprogramming of one of Han Fastolfe's robots, Jander Panell. Fastolfe speculates on what he saw as a future science of "psychohistory" which would provide a "Laws of Humanics." Fastolfe was encouraged by his long-time robot companion Giskard Reventlov, who ends up keeping psychic abilities a secret. Although Fastolfe might have unconsciously realized Giskard's mental powers, Giskard used the same powers to prevent the realization becoming conscious; therefore, the reader never knows this secret until the…