R. Daneel Olivaw

R. Daneel Olivaw is a fictional robot created by Isaac Asimov. The "R" initial in his name stands for "Robot," a naming convention in Asimov's future society. Daneel appears in Asimov's Robot and Foundation series, most notably in the novels The Caves of Steel, The Naked Sun, The Robots of Dawn, Robots and Empire, Prelude to Foundation, Forward the Foundation, Foundation and Earth as well as the short story "Mirror Image". He is constructed immediately prior to the age of the Settlers, and lives at least until the formation of Galaxia, thus spanning the entire history of the First Empire, the Second Empire run by the Second Foundation, and finally the group consciousnesses of Galaxia, although this last is uncertain as no book about this was ever written.

R. Daneel Olivaw
Robot series character/
Foundation series
R. Daneel Olivaw as depicted on the cover of the novel The Naked Sun.
First appearanceThe Caves of Steel
Last appearanceFoundation and Earth
Created byIsaac Asimov

Character biography

Daneel is a robot built by Roj Nemennuh Sarton and Han Fastolfe, who are Spacer roboticists from the planet Aurora, in the year 5020 AD.[1] Although designed and built by Auroran roboticists, Daneel was constructed on Earth. He is the first humanoid, or "humaniform," robot ever constructed and is virtually indistinguishable from a human being. This "undercover" attribute enables him to help earth-policeman Elijah Baley solve crimes. Daneel and Baley first meet while Baley is investigating the murder of Daneel's co-creator Sarton in Spacetown. Daneel is physically a perfect likeness of Dr. Sarton.

Daneel has a broad, high-cheekboned face and short bronze hair lying flatly backward and without a parting. He wears clothes and, in The Caves of Steel, cannot be told apart from a human unless he is seen in a situation where he refuses to violate the Three Laws of Robotics, and even in this case is indistinguishable from a particularly altruistic person. In Robots and Empire, Daneel learns both cerebroanalysis and how to influence the mental state of other creatures, human or robot, and, presumably, animal. Cerebroanalysis is a fictional analog of modern technology such as fMRI allowing empirical verification of mental states. It enables Daneel to "read" the emotional content of a human's thoughts. Daneel is taught how to reprogram himself to gain these abilities by R. Giskard Reventlov.

Relationship with Elijah Baley

Daneel is introduced in the book The Caves of Steel where he is tasked to assist Elijah Baley in the investigation of the murder of his creator, Roj Nemennuh Sarton. The book shows Earth's prejudice against robots, explaining why a humanoid robot was assigned to the case. Initially Baley is suspicious of Daneel and constructs two separate theories in which the Robot is responsible for the murder. The first supposition is that Daneel is in fact Sarton pretending to be a robot; the second supposition is that Daneel lacks the Three Laws. After both theories are disproven, Baley begins to feel a friendship with Daneel. At the same time, watching Baley gives Daneel a more nuanced view of justice, coming to understand that it is better to convert evil to good than to simply destroy evil.

Baley meets Daneel again in The Naked Sun, where he is sent to the Spacer planet Solaria to investigate the murder of Rikainne Delmarre, the husband of Gladia Delmarre. The Solarians are not informed of Daneel's robotic nature, as an Auroran show of superiority in the creation of robots. It is shown that Daneel learns from Baley's methods of investigation in both books, which leads to him playing a larger role in The Naked Sun.

Daneel also solves a case with Baley in Asimov's short story "Mirror Image". This story was written due to popular fan demand for another Baley/Daneel story. After it was written, Asimov was told by some fans that they enjoyed it but had hoped for another novel.

Baley and Daneel's last case together takes place on Aurora, in the novel The Robots of Dawn. The murder victim is a humanoid robot, R. Jander Panell, who is physically similar to Daneel and belonged to Gladia Delmarre. Unknown to the public, Gladia and Jander had a sexual relationship and she secretly regarded the humanoid robot as her husband.

Baley's and Daneel's friendship grows with each novel, ultimately leading to Daneel being the first of only two robots to ever set foot on a Settler world when Elijah Baley specifically asks to see him on his deathbed (R. Giskard being the second robot, many years later). Baley sends Daneel away immediately before dying, as witnessing his death would harm Daneel due to the First Law of Robotics. Baley's words to reassure Daneel about his death—explaining to him that he is a "mere thread in the vast tapestry of humanity"—assists Daneel in solidifying the Zeroth Law of Robotics.

Baley and the experiences Daneel had with him remain important to Daneel even thousands of years later. When asked about the now mythic figure of Baley (whose existence is now questioned), Daneel states that he was greater than any myth claimed him to be.

Zeroth Law of Robotics

In Robots and Empire, where Asimov finally links the Robot series with the Empire series, Giskard and Daneel often discuss the limitations of the Laws of Robotics, a process lengthened by the fact that their positronic pathways prevent thought along these lines, thus often leading to a temporary loss in the ability to talk or move. By the end of the book, when Daneel has formulated the Zeroth Law of Robotics ("A robot may not harm humanity, or through inaction, allow humanity to come to harm"), Giskard is the first robot to act according to this new law. However, the act of causing harm to a human being in violation of the First Law proves fatally destructive for Giskard, due to the uncertainty of whether or not his actions benefit humanity in the long run – he believes in the law but is unable to point a finger at "humanity" as he could at an individual human, to assess the benefit or harm done. Before deactivating completely, Giskard is able to transfer his powers of being able to read and influence minds to Daneel (by describing the necessary circuits to be rewired in Daneel's brain). It is implied that Daneel's closer tie to humanity allows him to slowly adapt to the new law with far less risk of destruction.

The Foundation Series

Together Daneel and Giskard imagine the science of "psychohistory" or laws of humanics, that would enable them to execute the "Zeroth Law" in a quantitative sense. Thousands of years later this would be developed into practical application by Hari Seldon.

For that time onward, Daneel manipulates the galaxy with the help of his many robot allies. Hari Seldon's wife Dors Venabili is the only one of Daneel's humanoid robot allies to be shown in the books. He sets up both the Galactic Empire and Gaia in order to create a society that does not need robots. Under the guise of Eto Demerzel, he becomes the first minister to galactic Emperor Cleon I and Stannell VI.

When Hari Seldon first comes to Trantor, Daneel, under the guise of reporter Chetter Hummin (a play on the words "cheater" and "human"), convinces Hari that the Galactic Empire is dying and that psychohistory must be developed into a practical science in order to save it. As Hummin, he convinces Seldon that Cleon's first minister Eto Demerzel is pursuing him and that it is imperative for Hari to escape and to try making psychohistory practical. He introduces Hari to Dors Venabili, who becomes Hari's friend, protector, and future wife. At the end of Seldon's "Flight" it is revealed that Hummin and Demerzel are actually the same person, and are both false identities of Daneel. Demerzel appears again in Forward the Foundation, first as the First Minister as he discusses with Seldon his progress and the Empire's future. Demerzel eventually steps down from his post and offers it to Seldon, and disappears. He later makes a brief appearance in the epilogue, which says he was one of the many in attendance at Hari Seldon's funeral.

Daneel appears once more in Foundation and Earth, where Golan Trevize and Janov Pelorat from the Foundation eventually find the radioactive Earth, and Daneel's base on the Moon, and learn about his paternalistic manipulations, including the settlement of Alpha Centauri, the creation of Gaia, and psychohistory.

Based on an independent timeline, Daneel was 19,230 years old during the events of Foundation and Earth. Daneel is the longest-living Asimov character, as well as the longest living humanoid robot in that universe (being the first humanoid robot created). He is theoretically immortal, because he is a robot. However, his parts need replacing, including his brain, and he eventually has to use a biological brain, as his own becomes more complex each time he replaces it. Daneel mentions that the more complex his brains become, the more fragile they are. At the end of the book, he intends fusing his brain with that of a Solarian, as it has reached the point where an upgrade is no longer possible. Daneel's original brain had lasted 10,000 years, approximately half his lifetime. In contrast, his final brain, which was thousands of times more advanced than his first, showed signs of shutting down after only 600 years.

Appearances in other media

In the 1964 British television adaptation of The Caves of Steel (an episode of the BBC2 series Story Parade), Daneel was played by John Carson. The script was adapted by Terry Nation.

In the 1969 British television adaptation of The Naked Sun (an episode of the BBC2 series Out of the Unknown), Daneel was played by David Collings.

In the 1988 TV Movie Robots, Daneel was portrayed by Brent Barrett.

In the 1989 BBC Radio 4 adaptation of The Caves of Steel, Daneel was played by Sam Dastor.


  1. ^ Encyclopedia Galactica - Characters - N-O:Olivaw
Dors Venabili

Dors Venabili is a fictional character in Isaac Asimov's Foundation Series. She is a good friend, protector and later wife of Hari Seldon, the primary character of Prelude to Foundation and Forward the Foundation. At face value, Dors is a woman two years younger than Seldon, in her own words not very good-looking. She tells Seldon that she is a historian from Cinna, and, before her involvement in The Flight, Dors taught history classes at Streeling University on Trantor.

Dors has been assigned the task of protecting Hari Seldon by Chetter Hummin (one of several aliases used by R. Daneel Olivaw) who takes an initial interest in Hari Seldon's psychohistory research. Over the course of Prelude to Foundation and Forward the Foundation she shows an obsessive concern for his safety and earns the nickname "The Tiger Woman" for the ferocity with which she is willing to defend him, and her accuracy, reflexes, and skill (all thought to be superhuman to the point of feline). Despite that, throughout her lifetime protecting Seldon, she was always reluctant to harm opponents in the course of protecting her husband. This is a result of her being bound by the Laws of Robotics.

Toward the end of Prelude to Foundation, Hari reveals his suspicion that Dors is a human-appearing robot working with R. Daneel Olivaw on his mission to protect mankind. (Clues that reveal Dors' true nature include her learning to master a weapon skillfully and immediately after watching a gangster use it just once.)

A talk with Dors pretty obviously confirms his supposition, even though the word "robot" is not spoken here. Still, the issue has no apparent effect on Hari's love for Dors, and even though she concludes the talk "So you see, Hari. [sic] I'm not really what you want," he is unperturbed, thinking about his protectress and future wife in love.

Dors tries to help Seldon also as a historian. Their talks on the former Kingdom of Trantor make Seldon consider the planet as a provisional model for the then still very immature psychohistory.

Together with Seldon, Dors raises Raych, whom they encounter as a 12-year-old boy while in the Dahl sector of Trantor.

Dors dies in Seldon's arms after being his spouse for 28 years, apparently as a result of both the EM damage inflicted during the attempt on her life by a traitor in Seldon's ranks, Tamwile Elar, and a violation of the First Law of Robotics as Dors kills Elar in defense of the Psychohistorical Project, thus essentially choosing to follow the Zeroth Law and suffering a fate similar to that of R. Giskard Reventlov. When dying, Dors confesses to Seldon that thanks to him she felt like a human being.

In the original Asimov books, it is unknown if Dors has been repaired after the damage. In the epilogue of Forward the Foundation, Seldon's last word was "Dors!", yet it is not specified, if he met her, or if it is only an exclamation of a man longing for his dead spouse. Dors reappears only in The Second Foundation Trilogy, after her apparent death, having been repaired by Daneel. She is originally assigned new duties, but has difficulty adapting to them. Having been built for the specific purpose of caring for Hari Seldon, her absence from his life and her knowledge of his impending death give her new perspective on Daneel's orders. Eventually, she leaves his service entirely, and it is implied that she takes up with the robot Lodovik Trema, but only after one final visit to her husband, whose last recorded word was her name.

Earth (Foundation universe)

This article is on the history of Earth, as presented in Isaac Asimov's Foundation series, Robot series, and Empire series.

Humans from Earth colonize the Spacer and, later, Settler planets; an anti-Earth plot causes the planet's crust to become radioactive, greatly reducing its population. Many small empires rise and fall throughout the Milky Way Galaxy as various worlds trade with and fight each other. Over time one planet, Trantor, founds a true Galactic Empire. By then Earth is only one of millions of member worlds, and the radioactivity makes it a quarantined backwater; by 827 G.E. (Galactic Era, the number of years after the empire's founding), the setting of Pebble in the Sky, only 20 million people live on Earth. Most non-Earthlings are skeptical of the scholarly theory that the obscure planet is the original home of all humans, believing that humans evolved on many planets simultaneously. By 12000 G.E., the setting of the Foundation series, although many believe that humanity originated on one planet, Earth is one of several candidates.

Foundation's Triumph

Foundation's Triumph (1999) is a science fiction novel by David Brin, set in Isaac Asimov's Foundation universe. It is the third book of the Second Foundation trilogy, which was written after Asimov's death by three authors, authorized by the Asimov estate. Brin synthesizes dozens of Foundation-Empire-Robots novels and short stories by Isaac Asimov, Roger MacBride Allen, and authorized others into a consistent framework. Foundation's Triumph includes an appendix chronology compiled by Attila Torkos.

Foundation and Chaos

Foundation and Chaos (1998) is a science fiction novel by Greg Bear, set in Isaac Asimov's Foundation universe. It is the second book of the Second Foundation trilogy, which was written after Asimov's death by three authors, authorized by the Asimov estate.

Gaia (Foundation universe)

Gaia is a fictional planet described in the book Foundation's Edge (1982) and referred to in Foundation and Earth (1986), both by Isaac Asimov. The name is derived from the Gaia hypothesis, which is itself eponymous to Gaia, the Earth Goddess.

In this fictional universe, Gaia is located in the Sayshell Sector, about ten parsecs (32 light years) from the system Sayshell itself. It orbits a G-4 class star, and has one natural satellite (50 km or 31 miles in diameter). Its axial inclination is 12°, and a Gaian day lasts 0.92 Galactic Standard Days.

In its course of settlement, the human beings on Gaia, under robotic guidance, not only evolved their ability to form an ongoing group consciousness, but also extended this consciousness to the fauna and flora of the planet itself, even including inanimate matter. As a result, the entire planet became a super-organism.

List of Robot series characters

The following is a list of characters in Isaac Asimov's Robot series.

List of fictional detective teams

This is a list of fictional detective teams from popular detective fiction. This list includes pairs of characters who appear in a series of novels or short stories, not characters who are teamed only for a single story.

Where two detectives work together, they are listed as A and B; where a single detective is regularly accompanied by a non-detecting sidekick or chronicler they are listed as A with B. The author who created the team appears in parentheses.

Elijah Baley and R. Daneel Olivaw - (Isaac Asimov)

Tommy and Tuppence Beresford - (Agatha Christie)

Hercule Poirot with Arthur Hastings - (Agatha Christie)

Grijpstra and de Gier - (Janwillem van de Wetering)

Frank and Joe Hardy - (Franklin W. Dixon)

Sherlock Holmes with Dr. John H. Watson - (Sir Arthur Conan Doyle)

Bertha Cool and Donald Lam - (Erle Stanley Gardner as A. A. Fair)

Lord Darcy and Sean O'Lochlainn - (Randall Garrett)

Hawk and Fisher - (Simon Green)

Nick and Nora Charles - (Dashiell Hammett)

Dalziel and Pascoe - (Reginald Hill)

Shawn Spencer and Burton Guster - (Steve Franks)

Solomon and Lord - (Paul Levine)

Travis McGee and Meyer - (John D. MacDonald)

Morse and Lewis - (Colin Dexter)

Hildegarde Withers with Inspector Oscar Piper - (Stuart Palmer)

Adrian Monk and Natalie Teeger - (Andy Breckman)

Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin - (Rex Stout)

Sister Fidelma with Brother Eadulf - (Peter Tremayne)

Master Li with Number Ten Ox - (Barry Hughart)

Inspector Lynley with Sergeant Havers - (Elisabeth George)

Martin Beck with Gunvald Larsson - (Sjöwall and Wahlöö)

Michael Knight and KITT - (Glen A. Larson)

Shaggy Rogers with Scooby Dooby Doo - (Hanna-Barbera)

Nick Wilde and Judy Hops - (Clark Spencer)

Phoenix Wright With Maya Fey - (Shu Takumi)

List of science fiction and fantasy detectives

This list consists of fictional detectives from science fiction and fantasy stories.


Mentalic is a term Isaac Asimov's Foundation series uses to cover a range of unusual psionic capabilities. Not precisely telepathic, the Second Foundationers are able to sense and adjust the emotions of humans. Gaia, the group mind of Foundation's Edge and Foundation and Earth, considers the Second Foundation an embryonic form of collective consciousness. Gaians are also described as mentalic, although they have the added abilities of adjusting non-human life as well as converting usable energy into work through conscious will alone (thermokinesis). It is implied that the Solarians use a special organ to turn heat into some manner of energy, but whether it psychokinetic or telepathic in origin, if not both, is not wholly specified. R. Daneel Olivaw, along with R. Giskard Reventlov, shared a robotic mentalic ability caused by errant programming by Vasilia Fastolfe. Giskard gained these abilities first, and then "taught" the secret (presumably transferring the programming) to Daneel. Both of their abilities were implied to be staggering and only limited by the First Law: Daneel, for example, claimed to be able to nullify all of Gaia's psychic power, a claim that Bliss (a native of Gaia) took seriously. Daneel also manipulated galactic history for millennia, both during the Empire and Foundation eras.

Mirror Image (short story)

"Mirror Image" is a science fiction short story by American writer Isaac Asimov, originally published in the May 1972 issue Analog Science Fiction and Fact, and collected in The Best of Isaac Asimov (1973), The Complete Robot (1982), Robot Visions (1990), and The Complete Stories, Volume 2 (1992).

After having received many requests to continue the story of detective Elijah Baley and his robot partner R. Daneel Olivaw, featured in his earlier novels The Caves of Steel and The Naked Sun, Asimov wrote this short detective story. After the story appeared, he received many letters from readers stating "Thanks, but we mean a novel".

Prelude to Foundation

Prelude to Foundation is a novel by American writer Isaac Asimov, published in 1988. It is one of two prequels to the Foundation series. For the first time, Asimov chronicles the fictional life of Hari Seldon, the man who invented psychohistory and the intellectual hero of the series. The novel was nominated for the Locus Award.

Robot series (Asimov)

The Robot series is a series of 38 science fiction short stories and five novels by American writer Isaac Asimov, featuring positronic robots.

Robots (1988 film)

Robots is a 1988 Interactive movie directed by Doug Smith and Kim Takal. Its screenplay, by Peter Olatka, is based on Isaac Asimov's Robot series. It stars Stephen Rowe as Elijah Baley, Brent Barrett as R. Daneel Olivaw, and John Henry Cox as Han Fastolfe.

Robots and Empire

Robots and Empire is a science fiction novel by the American author Isaac Asimov and published by Doubleday Books in 1985. It is part of Asimov's Robot series, which consists of many short stories (collected in I, Robot, The Rest of the Robots, and The Complete Robot) and several novels (The Caves of Steel, The Naked Sun, and The Robots of Dawn).

Robots and Empire is part of Asimov's consolidation of his three major series of science fiction stories and novels: his Robot series, his Galactic Empire series and his Foundation series. (Asimov also carried out this unification in his novel Foundation's Edge, and its sequel, thus unifying the three series of fiction into a single future history).

In the novel, Asimov depicts the transition from his earlier Milky Way Galaxy, inhabited by both human beings and positronic robots, to his Galactic Empire. The galaxy of his earlier trilogy of Robot novels is dominated by the blended human/robotic societies of the fifty "Spacer" planets, dispersed over a wide part of the Galaxy. While the Earth is much more populous than all of the Spacer planets combined, its people are looked down upon by the Spacers and treated as second-class citizens. For a long time, the Spacers have forbidden immigration of people from the Earth. But Asimov's later Galactic Empire is populated by many quadrillions of human beings on hundreds of thousands of habitable planets; and by very few robots (such as R. Daneel Olivaw). Even the technology to maintain and upgrade robots exists on only a few out-of-the-way planets. Therefore, Asimov's novel attempts to describe how his earlier Robot series ultimately connects to his Galactic Empire series.

Seldon Plan

The Seldon Plan is the central theme of Isaac Asimov's Foundation Series of stories and novels. The plan involves mathematically predicting the broad flow of human history on a large scale, in order that the future of the Galactic Empire can be improved.

The Caves of Steel

The Caves of Steel is a science fiction novel by American writer Isaac Asimov. It is a detective story and illustrates an idea Asimov advocated, that science fiction can be applied to any literary genre, rather than just being a limited genre in itself.

The book was first published as a serial in Galaxy magazine, from October to December 1953. A Doubleday hardcover followed in 1954.

The Complete Robot

The Complete Robot (1982) is a collection of 31 of the 37 science fiction short stories about robots by American writer Isaac Asimov, written between 1939 and 1977. Most of the stories had been previously collected in the books I, Robot and The Rest of the Robots, while four had previously been uncollected and the rest had been scattered across five other anthologies. They share a theme of the interaction of humans, robots and morality, and put together tell a larger story of Asimov's fictional history of robotics. The stories are grouped into categories.

The Naked Sun

The Naked Sun is a science fiction novel by American writer Isaac Asimov, the second in his Robot series. Like its predecessor, The Caves of Steel, this is a whodunit story. The book was first published in 1957 after being serialized in Astounding Science Fiction between October and December 1956.

The Robots of Dawn

The Robots of Dawn is a "whodunit" science fiction novel by American writer Isaac Asimov, first published in 1983. It is the third novel in Asimov's Robot series.

It was nominated for both the Hugo and Locus Awards in 1984.

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