My Science Fiction reading has mostly comprised of Jules Verne, H G Wells and Isaac Asimov. I enjoyed reading the Foundation Series and I, Robot a long time back. When I knew that Asimov had written Science Fiction Mysteries I just had to read it.
A millennium from now human beings have colonised 50 other planets. Earthmen live in Cities constructed in steel. They no longer live in open air but in caves of steel. Lije Baley, the protagonist of the story, has 'rarely seen rain, or any other phenomena of nature' in his forty-two years of life.
While on other planets human beings co-exists with Robots, on earth they dislike robots because Robots have taken over jobs from them. Human Beings from other planets, Spacers, live on earth in a special Spacetown with restricted access to earthmen.
When a prominent spacer scientist is killed in Spacetown, Julius Enderby, Commissioner of Police, City of New York approaches Lije Baley to investigate the case along with Spacer Robot Daneel Olivaw. Enderby instructs him
"If he (robot) breaks the case, if he can report that we are incompetent, we are ruined, anyway. We, as a department. You see that, don't you? So you've got a delicate job on hand. You've got to work with him, but see to it that you solve the case and not he."
Lije like majority of human beings on earth dislikes Robots. Robot Daneel is a special robot trained for investigations and looks like normal human being. Lije has not only solve the case, but has to overcome his distrust for robots and also prove he is more efficient than a Robot. How would Lije prove that he is better than a mind reading Robot is a challenge. Who killed the scientist and why? Will Lije prove that he is more efficient than a Robot?
I love this Science Fiction mystery which does not compromise on both angels. It is great science fiction and a great mystery. It works like a classic mystery suspicion moving from one key character to another with plenty of clues and some red herrings with a final satisfying result. Published in 1953 The Caves of Steel is a treat for both mystery lovers and Science Fiction lovers.