cover image Caliban


Isaac Asimov, Roy Allen. Ace Books, $9.95 (312pp) ISBN 978-0-441-09079-2

Allen ( Ring of Charon ), with the imprimatur of the late SF legend, offers here a reflection on what would happen if robots did not follow Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics. Those Laws build into robots a code of behavior through which they cannot harm humans. Here, the world of Inferno has become so dependent on robotic servants that humans have lost even the motivation to save their planet from impending ecological collapse. When a leading robotics scientist is mysteriously attacked and her experimental, lawless robot Caliban is let loose on the planet, the sheltered world of the Infernals is destined never to be the same. Political intrigue, love triangles, some smart detective work and Caliban's search for a robotic identity beyond being a servant to humans keep the story always interesting as it wends its way to an exciting conclusion. Unfortunately, Allen misses many opportunities to delve into how robots, programmed not to harm humans, can allow the long-term safety of their masters to be put in jeopardy through robotic dependence. (Mar.)