Asimov’s Aurora

This is the third and final book in the iBook Asimov Robots spinoff series. The first two were Asimov’s Mirage and Asimov’s Chimera. Like the second one, this is better than the first and has a nice flow to the plot line. The story also is easier to believe than those used in previous spinoffs such as the Robot City and Robots and Aliens series. Weirdly, this is the first of the books in those spinoff series to really use sex as a plot element. The other books haven’t been celibate, but they also haven’t been as in your face as this one. That was probably the weakest part of the book, because those parts felt clumsy and extraneous.

Aurora Book Cover Aurora
Mark W. Tiedemann
Fiction
Ibooks
2002
422

In the sequel to Mirage and Chimera, Derec Avery, Ariel Burgess, and their allies struggle to unmask the mastermind behind the terrorist attacks, assassinations, and attempts on their own lives, following an interstellar trail of intrigue, crime, and murder to a confrontation on the planet Aurora. Original.

Asimov’s Chimera

This is the second book in the iBooks spinoff series based on Asimov’s robot mysteries and the Robot City and Robots and Aliens series. Overall it fits into the Foundation Series acceptably. This book is a mystery much like Mark’s first Mirage.

I think overall this book is better written than Mirage, and is certainly better plotted than the Robot City and Robots and Aliens series. The book is believable and entertaining, without having to suspend too much disbelief. I enjoyed it, although the book isn’t important to the development of Foundation Series overall.

Chimera Book Cover Chimera
Mark W. Tiedemann
Fiction
Ibooks
2001
463

Coren Lanra, head of security for DyNan Manual Industries, investigates the murder of the daughter of DyNan's president Rega Looms during an ill-fated smuggling operation, and uncovers links to the past.

Asimov’s Mirage

If I was to name one flaw with the Robot City and Robots and Aliens series, it would have to be that they’re not very good. They’re lackluster, have difficult to believe plots, very simple structure, and are overall poorly thought through. Its a similar sensation to that I feel when I read the tie-in books written after Harrison’s Bill the Galactic Hero series. I feel a little sorry for the writers in later books in these series, because I suspect their hands were tied by the poor decisions of previous authors (similarly to the mess that Bear’s Foundation and Chaos had to dig that series out after Benford’s tragically terrible Foundation’s Fear).

Robot City and Robots and Aliens were disappointments because I read Roger MacBride Allen’s Caliban series before them, and Caliban is ok. Not awesome, but ok.

I say all of this as an introduction to Mirage. I guess what I’m saying is that I’ve been wading through Asimov robot tie-ins from other authors for a while now, and some of them are not very good. That’s why finding Mirage was such a delight. Its well written, has a similar style as Asimov’s own writing, reuses characters and plot elements from previous tie-in books sufficiently to acknowledge their existence without getting bogged down by the poor decisions of those previous series. Its an engaging read, and I’m glad I stuck through these various series long enough to find it.

My only complaint with this book is that the epilogue is confusing and doesn’t align with my understanding of the end of the story.

Mirage Book Cover Mirage
Mark W. Tiedemann, Isaac Asimov,
Fiction
Ibooks
2000
452

The assassination of an important senator threatens an important conference between Earth and the "Spacers," settlers who want to bring positronic robots back to Earth. Original.

The Robot City, Robots and Aliens Series

This series follows on from the Robot City series set in Asimov’s Foundation Universe but written by other authors. Overall that first series was weak, and I think the same is true for this series as well. There are a few here that are better than the others, but I’d only recommend this series for those who are obsessed with Foundation universe completeness.

Isaac Asimov’s Robot City: Robots and Aliens: Humanity

This book is actually the best one of the two robot city series (Robot City and Robots and Aliens). Unfortunately I had to wade through 12 not very good books to find it, and its still not stellar. I’d recommend giving both these series a miss unless you’re obsessed with completeness in Asimov’s Robot universe.

Humanity Book Cover Humanity
Jerry Oltion
Fiction
Ace Books
1990-10
177

Amnesiac Derec, on a galaxy-wide quest for his identity, stumbles upon Ariel Burgess and Dr. Avery, the same man who had obliterated his memory

The Robot City Series

These are books written in Isaac Asimov’s Foundation Universe by other authors. They don’t progress the overall plot of the Foundation series, they just use some of the concepts and characters to tell similar stories. The books in the series are:

To be honest these books aren’t fantastic and I wouldn’t recommend them unless you’re trying to get exhaustive coverage of Asimov’s Foundation universe.

Isaac Asimov’s Robot City: Robots and Aliens: Maverick

Bruce did an ok job with this book, although I think overall he was suffering from not having a lot to work with. The book is quite readable, which isn’t true of some of the others, and has some nice details such as an attempt to sound technically feasible by the liberal sprinkling of unix jargon through the book. I’m not sure if the unix jargon is successful however. Its interesting that this is also the first of these books to not have an introduction from Asimov himself.

Maverick
Bruce Bethke, Isaac Asimov,
Fiction
1990
184

FICTION-SCIENCE FICTION

Isaac Asimov’s Robot City: Robots and Aliens: Alliance

Given how disappointed I have been in other books in this series, I was pleasantly surprised by this one. The style is very readable, and the content is interesting. The plot seems more nuanced than some of the others in the series, and the characters aren’t as one dimensional either. This isn’t the best book I have ever read, but it was surprisingly solid, especially given some of the poor ground work it had to deal with.

Alliance
Jerry Oltion, Isaac Asimov,
Fiction
1990
168

Derec has restored the original Robot City, but now three subversive robots of his mother's creation are urging a robot revolution that threatens to destroy his father's city

Isaac Asimov’s Robot City: Robots and Aliens: Intruder

This is the third book in the second Asimov tie in series. Its one of the better ones of the nine I have read so far, and I actually enjoyed reading it (some of the others felt like a bit of a chore). This one covers a return to Robot City, where an outside force has disrupted the operation of the city for its own nefarious purposes.

Intruder Book Cover Intruder
Robert Thurston
Fiction
1990
195

The machinery of Robot City has gone mysteriously awry, and Derek, who has only recently returned, is determined to locate and eliminate the source of this distressing reprogramming

Isaac Asimov’s Robot City: Robots and Aliens: Renegade

This book starts poorly, and isn’t as interesting as the previous one in the series (Isaac Asimov’s Robot City: Robots and Aliens: Changeling). The introduction uses an alien species with spending any time to describe them, and the process of trying to infer what they are and how they operate distracts from the overall plot. Its a little bit like a William Gibson book, but a more clumsy attempt at it which makes the first couple of chapters hard to comprehend.

Worse than that, this book spends a lot of time dwelling on physics details (the author is a physicist), and Ariel seems obsessed with a desire for recognition and power that doesn’t exist in the previous books. A lot of the book is also about her love affair for Derec and a robot, which is out of place with the rest of the series as well. In the other books the romantic relationship between Derec and Ariel is a minor plot element, not something which has many pages devoted to it, and I think that fitted better with the overall plot.

Renegade
Cordell Scotten, Isaac Asimov,
Fiction
1989
178

Ariel follows her lover, Derec, to a planet of robots, where Derec is summoned to solve the mystery of the robots and aliens before a robot war erupts