Saturday, June 11, 2005

Science Fiction Book Review: Robots In Time (Dictator)

This book, Robots In Time (Dictator), is the fourth of a six book series written by William F. Wu and deals with Asimov’s robots and their adventures in time. In short this, and the other five novels by Wu in this series, are concerned with the three laws of robotics and six specific times in human history. If you don’t know what I’m talking about and you like science fiction, you really must go out and read the Robot novels by Isaac Asimov. But if you are continuing to read this review, you most likely already know his work and are curious about this Robots In Time Series.

There are three series I know of which are not written by Asimov, but deal exclusively with his robots and the three laws of robotics. The first series written was Robot City (1 -6), then came Robots In Time (1-6) and lastly Robots And Aliens (1-6). Asimov himself gave his okay for certain other writers to explore his concepts. Asimov’s short story "Robot Visions" was the inspiration for Robots In Time.

In Robots In Time (Dictator) we are transported back in time (by a time machine - a.k.a. story convention so don’t try to figure it) to the Russian front during world war two. Its cold, dismal, and the escaped robot MC 4 (long story, but you don’t really need to know it) must be recaptured by Hunter (a humaniform robot) and three humans. There is also another roboticist (Dr. Nystrom the creator of the MC robots) trying to find and recapture the escaped MC 4 as well. He shows up as the foil in all six books and in this one he is accompanied by a robot as well.

I would class this book as a young adult novel. William F. Wu does a good job, though it is nothing like Asimov’s originals, of depicting robots and how they deal with the contradictions and situations which can arise from conforming to the three laws of robotics. Suffice to say that this novel dealing with world war two, Russians and Germans, is entertaining but not too heavy. An easy read that is fairly enjoyable. If you approach these novels as young adult books, you will have nothing to be upset about. If you were expecting classic Asimov, I’m afraid you are going to be disappointed.

Bottom line is - fun, light, and something to pass the time. Not a real page turner, mind expanding read, but it never pretends to be. For reference I’ll list all six titles in case you get the urge to collect (like I do all the time). So in order,

Robots In Time (Predator)
Robots In Time (Marauder)
Robots In Time (Warrior)
Robots In Time (Dictator)
Robots In Time (Emperor)
Robots In Time (Invader)

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