Saturday, August 06, 2005
Science Fiction Book Review: Robots In Time (Emperor)
No, Asimov did not write this book. Wanted to clear that up right away. This book is actually one of six (and this happens to be number 5 in the series) authorized by Asimov himself to be written using his robots and exploring the ideas of time travel at the same time.
The author is William F. Wu. Now you know. Oh, and he (William F. Wu, not Asimov) wrote all six of the "Robots in Time" series, unlike the "Robot City" series which had different authors. And I found, while collecting them, that the "Robots In Time" books were pretty hard to find in paperback version anymore - having been published in 1994... You know, back when dinosaurs roamed the land. (I heard that, and yes I am still roaming - thank you.) Ahem.
So on to the review, actually a series of impressions as giving too many details may spoil the actual read for you. The setting is China, and the year is around 1000 BC. Two characters of note historically fictionalized (thems is two big words) are - Marco Polo (no, not the inspiration for the shirt, the explorer) and Kublai Khan (not the Coleridge poem or Kirk’s adversary, but the Emperor of China.)
Once again we are taken on a pretty exciting ride through history as told to us by Wu. And once again we are treated to a young adult fiction novel. You will not find the deep Verner Vinge type idea novel here, but more the early Heinlien adolescent fun one. And as such, it succeeds quite well. We get a taste of China and the political culture of 1000 BC, and the protagonists accomplish their task satisfactorily - all in only 227 pages.
I have a special fondness for all things "Asmovian Robot" whether they were written by him or not, so my liking of this series may be tainted by that admiration. If you don’t care for Asimov’s work, you may not care much for these novels then either.
Still, if you can find them, I would say get them.
Fun, and I think, worth your time.