The Naked Sun

The Naked Sun is the second novel in Issac Asimov’s Robot series. It follows on from The Caves of Steel.

It sees Elijah Baley travel to Solaria to investigate a murder. He is once again accompanied by R. Daneel Olivaw, though he does not play a huge part. On Solaria they find only 20,000 inhabitants who have a taboo against seeing each other (though “viewing” using a 3D video call is fine).

It was an intriguing tale, and one I was loosely familiar with from the Foundation series. I found it a little unbelievable, though. Baley being scared of the outside. Solarians being scared of seeing and touching other people? That just does not seem human.

Of course, taboos can be strong and if you have lived with someone your whole life, you will be conditioned. However, I think the human urge to get together and have sex is a pretty strong one. And studies show that even city-dwellers find the savanna landscape in which we evolved homely, even if they have never been there.

Part of reading science fiction is, of course, suspending your disbelief. However, it felt to me like there was a difference between accepting we have space ships that travel to other planets and a fundamental change in the human condition without much explanation. At least Brave New World attempted to explain how deep the conditioning went, and even then they had to pack plenty of humans off to the islands.

If you run with it, though, it becomes an interesting thought experiment and an enjoyable read. It also takes another step in building the Asimov universe; another jigsaw piece falls into place.

The Naked Sun

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This entry was posted on Friday, September 25th, 2015 at 10:43 am and is filed under Books. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.