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.[2]

The Robots of Dawn
Cover of first edition (hardcover)
AuthorIsaac Asimov
Cover artistKiyoshi Kanai[1]
CountryUnited States
SeriesRobot series
GenreScience fiction
Publication date
Media typePrint (hardback & paperback)
813/.54 19
LC ClassPS3551.S5 R6 1983
Preceded byThe Naked Sun, "Mirror Image" 
Followed byRobots and Empire 

Plot summary

Detective Elijah Baley of Earth is training with his son and others to overcome their socially ingrained agoraphobia when he is told that the Spacer world of Aurora has requested him to investigate a crime: the destruction of the mind of R. Jander Panell, a humaniform robot identical to R. Daneel Olivaw, with a mental block. The robot's inventor, Han Fastolfe, has admitted that he is the only person with the skill to have done this, but denies having done it. Fastolfe is also a prominent member of the Auroran political faction that favors Earth; therefore, it is politically expedient that he be exonerated. En route to Aurora, Baley again is partnered with R. Daneel Olivaw, and introduced to R. Giskard Reventlov, a robot of an earlier model.

On Aurora, he interviews Gladia Delmarre, R. Jander's last owner, and discovers that Gladia had a sexual relationship with Jander, to the point of considering him a husband. Baley later interviews Fastolfe's estranged daughter, Vasilia Fastolfe (alias "Vasilia Aliena"), who claims that her father would do anything necessary to advance psychohistory, including the incapacitation of Jander and Gladia's heartbreak. Following that, Baley interviews Santirix Gremionis, an Auroran who, with both Gladia and Vasilia, committed the Auroran taboo of offering himself repeatedly (sexually) after rejection. Gremionis denies involvement in the murder, and says he has reported Baley to the Chairman (the executive of the Auroran Government) for slander; but realizes, upon questioning, that Vasilia arranged his infatuation with Gladia.

Next, Baley interviews Kelden Amadiro, Fastolfe's chief political rival and head of the Robotics Institute, who explains the Institute's political motivations: that they wish to see Aurora alone colonize the Galaxy, by means of humaniform robots which at present only Fastolfe can build. On the way from the interview with Amadiro, Baley's airfoil (a personal hovercraft) is forced to stop. The air compressor has been sabotaged. Baley, suspecting Amadiro, orders Daneel and Giskard to flee. When several robots catch up with the car and question Baley, Baley tells them that he ordered Daneel back to the Robotics Institute, and they leave. Baley flees the car into the thunderstorm outside, where his agoraphobia renders him unconscious. He is recovered by Gladia and Giskard, and taken to Gladia's house. At an earlier-arranged meeting with the Chairman, Fastolfe, and Amadiro, Baley accuses Amadiro of sabotaging the car so that he could keep him, helpless, in the Institute, and thus have a legitimate reason to have Daneel there as well, unsupervised. As Baley states, without Fastolfe's cooperation, the only way to obtain knowledge about humaniform robots is to reverse engineer Daneel by thorough questioning, which would have allowed Amadiro to learn the details of his workings.

While logically consistent, Baley's unsupported accusation cannot stand against a formal denial by an Auroran as prominent and respected as Amadiro. However, Baley then confronts Amadiro with the revelation that Amadiro knew of the relationship between Gladia and Jander, and moreover, of her considering him her husband; something quite unthinkable for a native Auroran. Amadiro says he may have heard it from someone, but cannot remember whom.

Baley then states that only one Auroran could have told Amadiro about the relationship: Jander himself. Then, he gives the solution to the mystery: that in Gladia's absence, Amadiro questioned and tested Jander via trimensional viewing (telepresence). Daneel was part of Fastolfe's establishment, and thus well guarded, but Jander was at the house of the much less skilled Gladia, thus questioning him for reverse engineering purposes was much easier. Gremionis was encouraged to court Gladia because they tended to take long walks together, allowing Amadiro more time for his testing. The sabotage to the car was intended to capture Daneel and complete the analysis.

When Baley states that these experiments might have accidentally led to Jander's deactivation, Amadiro snaps and inadvertently admits he was working with Jander. As a result, he is forced to compromise with Fastolfe's policies; Amadiro agrees with Earth's right to share in the galactic colonization, while Fastolfe gives the Institute his data about humaniform robot design. Baley, however, confronts Giskard, who admits that Vasilia unknowingly gave him telepathic abilities during experiments when she was a child. Using knowledge derived from Han Fastolfe's mind, Giskard shut down Jander, to thwart Amadiro's attempt to build humaniform robots. Giskard allows Baley to retain knowledge of his abilities, but prevents him from revealing the secret.


Below is a list of all the major and minor characters in the book, in order of appearance, with plot detail.

  • Elijah Baley A Plainclothesman (police detective) who works on Earth. He is called to solve the case on Aurora.
  • Jezebel "Jessie" Baley Elijah’s wife. (mentioned only)
  • Bentley Baley Elijah’s son.
  • Gladia A woman Baley met on Solaria, who is now living on Aurora. She borrowed from Fastolfe the now-destroyed Jander Panell.
  • Wilson Roth The new Commissioner and Baley's boss ever since Julius Enderby's resignation two and a half years before the book's events.
  • Lavinia Demachek Undersecretary.
  • Albert Minnim Superior of Lavinia. (mentioned only)
  • Han Fastolfe A politician on Aurora who is accused by extremists of destroying a humaniform robot. As the leading theoretical roboticist on Aurora, he was the one who programmed Daneel, along with some 56 other robots who help around his house. He has two daughters, and is a Humanist (one who believes all human beings have the right to explore the Galaxy).
  • R. Daneel Olivaw Ex-partner of Baley, he is the first successful humaniform creation of Fastolfe.
  • R. Giskard Reventlov A robot Baley meets on the way to Aurora. Constructed by Fastolfe, he is his creator’s right-hand robot.
  • Jander Panell The robot that was destroyed on Aurora. Originally owned by Fastolfe, he was lent to Gladia for use.
  • Roj Nemennuh Sarton The designer of Daneel. He was murdered on Earth. (mentioned only)
  • Fanya The current wife of Fastolfe. (mentioned only)
  • Pandion A robot serving Gladia.
  • Borgraf A robot serving Gladia.
  • Vasilia Aliena Fastolfe’s daughter, whom he raised himself against Auroran custom. She is a professional roboticist and is part of the Robotics Institute of Aurora against Fastolfe.
  • Lumen Fastolfe’s daughter with whom he has little contact. She is running for political office on a Globalist ticket, a party that believes Aurorans deserve the Galaxy. (mentioned only)
  • Santirix Gremionis An Auroran who repeatedly offered himself to Gladia. He is a hair and clothing designer, and was questioned by Baley.
  • Brundij A robot serving Gremionis.
  • Kelden Amadiro The head of the Robotics Institute of Aurora.
  • Maloon Cicis A roboticist with whom Baley spoke to get to Amadiro.
  • Rutilan Horder Chairman of the Legislature of Aurora.


  1. ^
  2. ^ "1984 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Retrieved 2009-09-13.

External links

1983 in literature

This article presents lists of the literary events and publications in 1983.

Aurora (fictional planet)

Aurora is a fictional planet in Isaac Asimov's Robot series. It was the first world settled by the Spacers, originally named 'New Earth'; it was located 3.7 parsecs (12 light years) from Earth.

Elijah Baley

Elijah "Lije" Baley is a fictional character in Isaac Asimov's Robot series. He is the main character of the novels The Caves of Steel, The Naked Sun and The Robots of Dawn, and of the short story "Mirror Image." He is seen in flashbacks several times and talked about frequently in Robots and Empire, which is set roughly 160 years after his death. He is further mentioned in passing in "Foundation and Earth" as a "Culture Hero". Besides Asimov's works he appears in the Foundation's Friends story "Strip-Runner" by Pamela Sargent, and "Isaac Asimov's 'The Caves Of Steel'" poem by Randall Garrett.

Foundation and Earth

Foundation and Earth is a science fiction novel by American writer Isaac Asimov, the fifth novel of the Foundation series and chronologically the last in the series. It was published in 1986, four years after the first sequel to the Foundation trilogy, which is titled Foundation's Edge.

Foundation series

The Foundation series is a science fiction book series written by American author Isaac Asimov. For nearly thirty years, the series was a trilogy: Foundation, Foundation and Empire, and Second Foundation. It won the one-time Hugo Award for "Best All-Time Series" in 1966. Asimov began adding to the series in 1981, with two sequels: Foundation's Edge, Foundation and Earth, and two prequels: Prelude to Foundation, Forward the Foundation. The additions made reference to events in Asimov's Robot and Empire series, indicating that they were also set in the same fictional universe.

The premise of the series is that the mathematician Hari Seldon spent his life developing a branch of mathematics known as psychohistory, a concept of mathematical sociology. Using the laws of mass action, it can predict the future, but only on a large scale. Seldon foresees the imminent fall of the Galactic Empire, which encompasses the entire Milky Way, and a dark age lasting 30,000 years before a second great empire arises. Seldon's calculations also show there is a way to limit this interregnum to just one thousand years. To ensure the more favorable outcome and reduce human misery during the intervening period, Seldon creates the Foundation – a group of talented artisans and engineers positioned at the twinned extreme ends of the galaxy – to preserve and expand on humanity's collective knowledge, and thus become the foundation for the accelerated resurgence of this new galactic empire.

Galactic Empire (series)

The Galactic Empire series (also called the Empire novels or trilogy) is a science fiction sequence of three of Isaac Asimov's earliest novels, and extended by one short story. They are connected by their early place in his published works and chronological placement within his overarching Foundation Universe, set around the rise of Asimov's Galactic Empire, between the Robot and Foundation series to which they were linked in Asimov's later novels.

Isaac Asimov's Robot City

Isaac Asimov's Robot City is a series of novels written by various authors and loosely connected to Isaac Asimov's Robot series. It takes place between The Robots of Dawn and Robots and Empire. Each volume is complete in itself, but they form a continuing series. The novels were written in response to a writing challenge issued by Asimov to write a series involving the Three Laws of Robotics, which brought about a collaboration of several authors. Asimov provided outlines for stories which filled in the gap between Asimov's own robot stories and his Foundation series, explaining the disappearance of the robots prior to the establishment of the galactic empire. Isaac Asimov's Robots and Aliens followed in this series, with the same protagonists and many other characters. The common theme of all books of both series is the interaction between the characters and autonomous cities run and populated by robots (the "robot cities" of the series title). Robot City was also released as a mystery game for the PC in 1995. The player takes the role of Derec.

Liar! (short story)

"Liar!" is a science fiction short story by American writer Isaac Asimov. It first appeared in the May 1941 issue of Astounding Science Fiction and was reprinted in the collections I, Robot (1950) and The Complete Robot (1982). It was Asimov's third published positronic robot story. Although the word "robot" was introduced to the public by Czech writer Karel Čapek in his 1920 play R.U.R. (Rossum's Universal Robots), Asimov's story "Liar!" contains the first recorded use of the word "robotics" according to the Oxford English Dictionary. The events of this short story are also mentioned in the novel The Robots of Dawn written by the same author.

List of Robot series characters

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

Mark W. Tiedemann

Mark W. Tiedemann (born 1954 in St. Louis, Missouri) is an American science fiction and detective fiction author. He has written novels set in Isaac Asimov's Robot universe, and within his own original universe, known as the Secantis Sequence.In spring 2005 he was named president of the Missouri Center for the Book, which is the Missouri state adjunct program to the Library of Congress Center for the Book.

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".

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.

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 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.

Settler (Asimov)

Settlers are fictional human colonists that replaced the earlier Spacer emigrants who were in dominance in the vague period between Isaac Asimov's Robot series near-future short stories (of the type collected in I, Robot) and novels.

Spacer (Asimov)

Spacers were the fictional first humans to emigrate to space in Isaac Asimov's Robot and latterly related Foundation and Empire series. In these stories, about a millennium thereafter, they severed political ties with Earth, and embraced low population-growth and extreme longevity (with lifespans reaching 400 years) as a means for a high standard of living, in combination with using large numbers of robots as servants. At the same time, they also became militarily dominant over Earth.

Asimov's novels chronicle the gradual deterioration of the Spacer worlds and the disappearance of robots from human society. The exact details vary from book to book, and in at least one case—the radioactive contamination of Earth—later scientific discoveries forced Asimov to retroactively reconfigure his own future history. The general pattern, however, is as follows:

In the vague period between Asimov's near-future Robot short stories (of the type collected in I, Robot) and his novels, immigrants from Earth establish colonies on fifty worlds, the first being Aurora, the last Solaria, and all fifty inscribed in the Hall of the Worlds located on Melpomenia, the nineteenth. Sociological forces possibly related to their sparse populations and dependence on robot labor lead to the collapse of most of these worlds; their dominance is replaced by new, upstart colonies known as "Settler" worlds. Unlike their Spacer predecessors, the Settlers detested robots, and so by the time of the Empire novels, robotics is almost an unknown science.

In Foundation and Earth, Golan Trevize visits several of these worlds. We learn the eventual fate of Aurora, setting of The Robots of Dawn, and also Solaria, the setting of its predecessor The Naked Sun.

Susan Calvin

Dr. Susan Calvin is a fictional character appearing in Isaac Asimov's Robot series of science fiction short stories. She was the chief robopsychologist at US Robots and Mechanical Men, Inc., posited as the major manufacturer of robots in the 21st century. She was the main character in many of Asimov's short stories concerning robots, which were later collected in the books I, Robot and The Complete Robot.

The Evitable Conflict

"The Evitable Conflict" is a science fiction short story by American writer Isaac Asimov. It first appeared in the June 1950 issue of Astounding Science Fiction and subsequently appeared in the collections I, Robot (1950), The Complete Robot (1982), and Robot Visions (1990). It features the character Stephen Byerley from the earlier "Evidence".

Three Laws of Robotics

The Three Laws of Robotics (often shortened to The Three Laws or known as Asimov's Laws) are a set of rules devised by the science fiction author Isaac Asimov. The rules were introduced in his 1942 short story "Runaround" (included in the 1950 collection I, Robot), although they had been foreshadowed in a few earlier stories. The Three Laws, quoted as being from the "Handbook of Robotics, 56th Edition, 2058 A.D.", are:

First Law – A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.

Second Law – A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.

Third Law – A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws.These form an organizing principle and unifying theme for Asimov's robotic-based fiction, appearing in his Robot series, the stories linked to it, and his Lucky Starr series of young-adult fiction. The Laws are incorporated into almost all of the positronic robots appearing in his fiction, and cannot be bypassed, being intended as a safety feature. Many of Asimov's robot-focused stories involve robots behaving in unusual and counter-intuitive ways as an unintended consequence of how the robot applies the Three Laws to the situation in which it finds itself. Other authors working in Asimov's fictional universe have adopted them and references, often parodic, appear throughout science fiction as well as in other genres.

The original laws have been altered and elaborated on by Asimov and other authors. Asimov himself made slight modifications to the first three in various books and short stories to further develop how robots would interact with humans and each other. In later fiction where robots had taken responsibility for government of whole planets and human civilizations, Asimov also added a fourth, or zeroth law, to precede the others:

A robot may not harm humanity, or, by inaction, allow humanity to come to harm.The Three Laws, and the zeroth, have pervaded science fiction and are referred to in many books, films, and other media, and have impacted thought on ethics of artificial intelligence as well.

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