Review of “The Naked Sun” by Isaac Asimov

This is the second book in Asimov’s Robot Series. The first takes place on Earth, which is over-crowded, robot-phobic, and (like Asimov) agoraphobic.

This second book takes place on a planet (Solaria) that has been settled by humans. This planet is set up to be the complete opposite of Earth. Its human population is low and people live far apart from each other (in fact, they avoid physical proximity at all costs). The planet has a huge robot-to-human ratio. And people basically live a life of luxury on the back of robot labor.

The dichotomy between Earth and Solaria reveals certain weaknesses in both societies. Asimov seems to be saying that you can get over-populated, overly dense, overly disconnected from the outside, overly suspicious of technology but that you can also be under-populated, too isolated, and too open to technology.

Since the book is ultimately a detective story, with a detective from Earth solving a murder on Solaria, Asimov also seems to be suggesting that human nature is what it is. Despite the vast differences between the societies, a person from Earth still understands what people on Solaria think and how they act.

The mystery also involves someone who is trying to weaponize robots. This is difficult given that the laws of robotics seem to prevent robots from harming humans, but it’s not necessarily impossible.

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