This review was originally posted at Goodreads and imported here later with next to no spell/grammar checking.
I love Asimov but for some reason, I was never drawn to the Robot series.
The Caves of Steel is absolutely brilliant. I’ve always held that at its best, sci-fi is not a genre but a setting. An environment in which you tell stories or provide interesting looks at people and societies, rather than just glorifying the tech. This book is the embodiment of that view.
It’s a whodunit. And while being full robots, huge futuristic cities and blasters, the technology only serves to point at how the society works, investigating its people, customs and struggles. It is one of the most believable books I’ve ever read, not to mention impossible to put down.
The fact that it’s been written in 1953 is really hard to accept. This is probably closest to what a truly timeless science fiction would look like. The only two things betraying its age are both misplaced senses of scale: the books' most massive city (NYC) houses 20 million people which has dictated a radical change from the cities as we know them. Except our current cities are pushing towards that limit (or are comfortably there if you count the metropolitan areas). The other thing is that the books occur several thousand years in the future. All this could happen in 2-3 hundred years.
Add a zero to the population and drop one from the time scale and this book could have been published yesterday.
It is definitely one of my favourites.