The Caves of Steel by Isaac Asimov

You can see why Asimov thinks he’s great shakes. This is written early 1950s and he talks of a future world where humans live in huge cities with the utmost efficiency, protected from the environment, entirely dependent upon nuclear power, eating food created by science. Thus earth is still able to support a massive population and rising. Let’s just say, we are getting there. The age of the car is well gone -in this world people walk on transport belts that go up to 60 miles/hour. The vehicles are only community ones, for the police and emergency services.

He describes a world in which the advanced, rich, long-living Spacers are trying to impose robots upon the inhabitants of the City states. He describes the hostility as people find themselves displaced by these machines. He could be describing the world of right now, as we find this happening, this idea that it is good to take work from people, replace them by machines, have them face a hopeless future of poverty, reliant upon society’s vengeful charity. Apparently we think that this is somehow more conducive to a better society, than a world worked by humans who earn decent wages and live decent lives. I’m mystified by it. I want to talk to a bank teller. I want to chat to a checkout person at the supermarket. I want to talk to people, not machines, on the telephone. I see no reason to think that it is better for those people to be jobless. Well, nor do the ordinary people in Asimov’s world. It forms the basis for the whodunnit.

My favourite prediction:

If there were one thing that had resisted mechanical improvement since Medieval times, it was a woman’s purse. Even the substitution of magnetic closures for metal clasps had not proved successful.

The man’s a veritable seer.

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