Nutshell: always already famous detective concerns himself with the setting-significant wrongful decommission of an AI dildo.
Elijah is preceded in all his endeavors by the hyperreal version of himself from a "hyperwave dramatization," produced regarding the events of [b:The Naked Sun|30016|The Naked Sun (Robot, #3)|Isaac Asimov|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1335782263s/30016.jpg|1583154] (5). Everyone whom he meets mentions it--so the point of the novel in some ways is that the Real must tirelessly overcome a precession of hyperreality. Part of the hyperreality of the setting is the simulation of human persons in robot slave laborers. Sexuality is likewise affected by the precession of the hyperreal: after using AI dildo aforesaid, one character considers "real" sex to be "an unsatisfactory substitute" (141). We find, also, that, sans decay, "a robot corpse is much more human than a human corpse" (144). Eventually, even the simulated humans (i.e., robots) are revealed to be preceded by hyperreality, via reputation and hyperwave dramas (279). It's almost as though Baudrillard wrote this novel, and the identity of human and robot is plainly established with "the robot had no feelings, only positronic surges that mimicked feelings. (And perhaps human beings had no feelings, only neuronic surges that were interpreted as feelings.)" (304).
Other reviewers have noted the tidy progression of Elijah, from robotophobe to robot-lover in this novel. A nice moment occurs early, what is likely the anagnorisis
, when Elijah "was faintly horrified to realize that he would be ready to risk his life for [Daneel Olivaw]" (49). What we have here is revolution at the level of the individual: Elijah disagrees with himself, i.e., the old arriere garde robotophobe ideology has come into confrontation with the narrative of robot rights, newly generated by his affection for a particular person. It's good stuff, and bears out well through the novel.
More FTL magic: "the ship merely left the universe and traversed something which involved no speed limit" (45).
Cool development regarding telepathic robots, first presented as a legend (79), but later revealed to be more substantial, with setting-significant implications, including psychohistory, the Zeroth Law, and so on. Psychohistory is expressly discussed, as the "laws of humanics" (104). The Zeroth is telegraphed numerous times, such as "we have labored to produce a planet which, taken as a whole, would obey the Three Laws of Robotics" and "does nothing to harm human beings" (101), or Elijah's command to Daneel "Don't worry about me; I'm one man; worry about billions" (313).
Nice link to [b:The End of Eternity|509784|The End of Eternity|Isaac Asimov|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1350814471s/509784.jpg|1407851], regarding the failure of earthlings to encounter intelligent life despite spreading across space (102).
So, yeah, this is why I love Asimov--instead of saying Robots be fuckin', yo
, we get stuff like: "Nothing was lacking and those portions which might be expected to be erectile were, indeed, erectile. Indeed, they were under what, in a human, would be called conscious control. [AI dildo] could tumesce and detumesce on order" (140).
Recommended for those part of the consensus of robotic rights, persons who can tell what exists inside the pseudoskin and pseudoconsciousness of the robot, and readers who assume a property right to a particular facet of progress.