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Daneel Olivaw 4 - Robots and Empire

Isaac Asimov


  "These two robots," Gladia said, "have never forgotten Elijah Baley, any more than I have forgotten him. The passing decades have not in the least dimmed those memories. When I knew that I might visit Baleyworld, how could I refuse to take Daneel and Giskard with me?

  Yes, they are robots, but they are intelligent robots who served Elijah Baley faithfully and well. It is not enough to have respect for all human beings; one must have respect for all intelligent beings. So I brought them here." Then in a final outcry that demanded a response, "Did I do wrong?"

  A gigantic cry of "No!" resounded throughout the hall and everyone was on his or her feet, clapping, stamping, roaring, screaming—on . . . and on . . . and on.

  By Isaac Asimov

  Published by Ballantine Books:



  Foundation and Empire

  Second Foundation

  Foundation's Edge


  The Stars, Like Dust

  The Currents of Space

  Pebble in The Sky


  The Caves of Steel

  The Naked Sun

  The Robots of Dawn




  THE BICENTENNIAL MAN and Other Stories

  NIGHTFALL and Other Stories


  THE MARTIAN WAY and Other Stories

  THE WINDS OF CHANGE and Other Stories




  Writing as Paul French:

  DAVID STARR—Space Ranger

  LUCKY STARR and the Pirates of the Asteroids

  LUCKY STARR and the Oceans of Venus

  LUCKY STARR and the Big Sun of Mercury

  LUCKY STARR and the Moons of Jupiter

  LUCKY STARR and the Rings of Saturn

  A Del Rey Book

  Published by Ballantine Books

  Copyright © 1985 by Nightfall, Inc.

  All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions. Published in the United States of America by Ballantine Books, a division of Random House, Inc., New York, and simultaneously in Canada by Random House of Canada Limited, Toronto.

  Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 85-1600

  ISBN 0-345-32894-9

  This edition published by arrangement with Doubleday & Company, Inc.

  All characters in this book are fictional and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

  Printed in Canada

  First International Edition: July 1986

  First U.S. Edition: November 1986

  Cover Art by Michael Whelan










  About the Author


















  14. THE DUEL



  16. THE CITY



  19. ALONE




  Gladia felt the lawn lounge to make sure it wasn't too damp and then sat down. A touch at the control adjusted it in such a way as to allow her to be semirecumbent and another activated the diamagnetic field and gave her, as it always did, the sensation of utter relaxation. And why not? She was, in actual fact, floating—a centimeter above the fabric.

  It was a warm and pleasant night, the kind that found the planet Aurora at its best—fragrant and star-lit.

  With a pang of sadness, she studied the numerous little sparks that dotted the sky with patterns, sparks that were all the brighter because she had ordered the lights of her establishment dimmed.

  How was it, she wondered, that she had never learned the names of the stars and had never found out which were which in all the twenty-three decades of her life. One of them was the star about which her birth planet of Solaria orbited, the star which, during the first three decades of her life, she had thought of merely as "the sun."

  Gladia had once been called Gladia Solaria. That was when she had come to Aurora, twenty decades before—two hundred Standard Galactic Years—and it was meant as a not very friendly way of marking her foreign birth. A month before had been the bicentennial anniversary of her she had left unmarked because she did to think of those days. Before that, on Solaria, she had been Gladia—Delmarre.

  She stirred uneasily. She had almost forgotten that surname. Was it because it was so long ago? Or was it merely that she labored to forget?

  All these years she had not regretted Solaria, never missed it.

  And yet now?

  Was it because she had now, quite suddenly, discovered herself to have survived it? It was gone—a historical memory and she still lived on? Did she miss it now for that reason?

  Her brow furrowed. No, she did not miss it, she decided resolutely. She did not long for it, nor did she wish to return to it. It was just the peculiar pang of something that had been so much a part of her—however destructively—being gone.

  Solaria! The last of the Spacer worlds to be settled and made into a home for humanity. And in consequence, by some mysterious law of symmetry perhaps, it was also the first to die?

  The first? Did that imply a second and third and so on?

  Gladia felt her sadness deepen. There were those who thought there was indeed such an implication. If so, Aurora, her long-adopted home, having been the first Spacer world to be settled, would, by that same rule of symmetry, therefore be the last of the fifty to die. In that case, it might, even at worst, outlast her own stretched-out lifetime and if so, that would have to do.

  Her eyes sought the stars again. It was hopeless. There was no way she could possibly work out which of those indistinguishable dots of light was Solaria's sun. She imagined it would be one of the brighter ones, but there were hundreds even of those.

  She lifted her arm and made what she identified to herself only as her "Daneel gesture." The fact that it was dark did not matter.

  Robot Daneel Olivaw was at her side almost at once. Anyone who had known him a little over twenty decades before, when he had first been designed by Han Fastolfe, would not have been conscious of any noticeable change in him. His broad, high-cheekboned face, with its short bronze hair combed back; his blue eyes; his tall, well-knit, and perfectly humanoid body would have seemed as young and as calmly unemotional as ever.

  "May I be of help in any way, Madam Gladia?" he asked in an even voice.

  "Yes, Daneel. Which of those stars is Solaria's sun?"

  Daneel did not look upward. He said, "None of them, Madam Gladia. At this time of year, Solaria's sun will not rise until 0320."

; "Oh?" Gladia felt dashed. Somehow she had assumed that any star in which she happened to be interested would be visible at any time it occurred to her to look. Of course, they did rise and set at different times. She knew that much. "I've been staring at nothing, then."

  "The stars, I gather from human reactions," said Daneel, as though in an attempt to console, "are beautiful whether any particular one of them is visible or not."

  "I dare say," said Gladia discontentedly and adjusted the lounge to an upright position with a snap. She stood up. "However, it was Solaria's sun I wanted to see—but not so much that I intend to sit here till 0320."

  "Even were you to do, so," said Daneel, "you would need magnilenses.


  "It is not quite visible to the unaided eye, Madam Gladia."

  "Worse and worse!" She brushed at her slacks. "I should have consulted you first, Daneel."

  Anyone who had known Gladia twenty decades before, when she had first arrived in Aurora, would have found a change. Unlike Daneel, she was merely human. She was still 155 centimeters tall, almost 10 centimeters below the ideal height for a Spacer woman. She had carefully kept her slim figure and there was no sign of weakness or stiffness about her body. Still, there was a bit of gray in her hair, fine wrinkles near her eyes, and a touch of graininess about her skin. She might well live another ten or twelve decades, but there was no denying that she was already no longer young. That didn't bother her.

  She said, "Can you identify all the stars, Daneel?"

  "I know those visible to the unaided eye, Madam Gladia."

  "And when they rise and set on any day of the year?"

  "Yes, Madam Gladia."

  "And all sorts of other things about them?"

  "Yes, Madam Gladia. Dr. Fastolfe once asked me to gather astronomical data so that he could have them at his fingertips without having to consult his computer. He used to say it was friendlier to have me tell him than to have his computer do so." Then, as though, to anticipate the next question, "He did not explain why that should be so."

  Gladia raised her left arm and made the appropriate gesture. Her house was at once illuminated. In the soft light that now reached her, she was subliminally aware of the shadowy figures of several robots, but she paid no attention to that. In any well-ordered establishment, there were always robots within reach of human beings, both for security and for service.

  Gladia took a last fugitive glimpse at the sky, where the stars had now dimmed in the scattered light. She shrugged lightly. It had been quixotic. What good would it have done even if she had been able to see the sun of that now-lost world, one faint dot among many? She might as well choose a dot at random, tell herself it was Solaria's sun, and stare at it.

  Her attention turned to R. Daneel. He waited for her patiently, the planes of his face largely in shadow.

  She found herself thinking again how little he had changed since she had seen him on arriving at Dr. Fastolfe's establishment so long ago. He had undergone repairs, of course. She knew that, but it was a vague knowledge that one pushed away and kept at a distance.

  It was part of the general queasiness that held good for human beings, too. Spacers might boast of their iron health and of their life-spans of thirty to forty decades, but they were not entirely immune to the ravages of age. One of Gladia's femurs fit into a titanium-silicone hip socket. Her left thumb was totally artificial, though no one could tell that without careful ultrasonograms. Even some of her nerves had been rewired. Such things would be true of any Spacer of similar age from any of the fifty Spacer worlds (no, forty-nine, for now Solaria could no longer be counted).

  To make any reference to such things, however, was an ultimate obscenity. The medical records involved, which had to exist since further treatment might be necessary, were never revealed for any reason. Surgeons, whose incomes were considerably higher than those of the Chairman himself, were paid so well, in part, because they were virtually ostracized from polite society. After all, they knew.

  It was all part of the Spacer fixation on long life, on their unwillingness to admit that old age existed, but Gladia didn't linger on any analysis of causes. She was restlessly uneasy in thinking about herself in that connection. If she had a three dimensional map of herself with all prosthetic portions, all repairs, marked off in red against the gray of her natural self, what a general pinkness she would appear to have from a distance. Or so she imagined.

  Her brain, however, was still intact and whole and while that was so, she was intact and whole, whatever happened to the rest of her body.

  Which brought her back to Daneel. Though she had known him for twenty decades, it was only in the last year that he was hers. When Fastolfe died (his end hastened, perhaps, by despair), he had willed everything to the city of Eos, which was a common enough state of affairs. Two items, however, he had left to Gladia (aside from confirming her in the ownership of her establishment and its robots and other chattels, together with the grounds thereto appertaining).

  One of them had been Daneel.

  Gladia asked, "Do you remember everything you have ever committed to memory over the course of twenty decades, Daneel?"

  Daneel said gravely, "I believe so, Madam Gladia. To be sure, if I forgot an item, I would not know that, for it would have been forgotten and I would not then recall ever having memorized it."

  "That doesn't follow at all," said Gladia. "You might well remember knowing it, but be unable to think of it at the moment. I have frequently had something at the tip of my tongue, so to speak, and been unable to retrieve it."

  Daneel said, "I do not understand, madam. If I knew something, surely it would be there when I needed it."

  "Perfect retrieval?" They were walking slowly toward the house.

  "Merely retrieval, madam. I am designed so."

  "For how much longer?"

  "I do not understand, madam."

  "I mean, how much will your brain hold? With a little over twenty decades of accumulated memories, how much longer can it go on?"

  "I do not know, madam. As yet I feel no difficulty."

  "You might not—until you suddenly discover you can remember no more."

  Daneel seemed thoughtful for a moment. "That may be so, madam.

  "You know, Daneel, not all your memories are equally important."

  "I cannot judge among them, madam."

  "Others can. It would be perfectly possible to clean out your brain, Daneel, and then, under supervision, refill it with its important memory content only—say, ten percent of the whole. You would then be able to continue for centuries longer than you would otherwise. With repeated treatment of this sort, you could go on indefinitely. It is an expensive procedure, of course, but I would not cavil at that. You'd be worth it."

  "Would I be consulted on the matter, madam? Would I be asked to agree to such treatment?"

  "Of course. I would not order you in a matter like that. It would be a betrayal of Dr. Fastolfe's trust."

  "Thank you, madam. In that case, I must tell you that I would never submit voluntarily to such a procedure unless I found myself to have actually lost my memory function."

  They had reached the door and Gladia paused. She said, in honest puzzlement, "Why ever not, Daneel?"

  Daneel said in a low voice, "There are memories I cannot risk losing, madam, either through inadvertence or through poor judgment on the part of those conducting the procedure."

  "Like the rising and setting of the stars? —Forgive me, Daneel, I didn't mean to be joking. To what memories are you referring?"

  Daneel said, his voice still lower, "Madam, I refer to my memories of my onetime partner, the Earthman Elijah Baley "

  And Gladia stood there, stricken, so that it was Daneel who had to take the initiative, finally, and signal for the door to open.


  Robot Giskard Reventlov was waiting in the living room and Gladia greeted him with that same pang of uneasiness that always assailed her when she faced him.<
br />
  He was primitive in comparison with Daneel. He was obviously a robot—metallic, with a face that had nothing human in expression upon it, with eyes, that glowed a dim red, as could be seen if it were dark enough. Whereas Daneel wore clothing, Giskard had only the illusion of clothing—but a skillful illusion, for it was Gladia herself who had designed it.

  "Well, Giskard," she said.

  "Good evening, Madam Gladia," said Giskard with a small bow of his head.

  Gladia remembered the words of Elijah Baley long ago, like a whisper inside the recesses of her brain:

  "Daneel will take care of you. He will be your friend as well as protector and you must be a friend to him—for my sake. But it is Giskard I want you to listen to. Let him be your adviser."

  Gladia had frowned. "Why him? I'm not sure I like him."

  "I do not ask you to like him. I ask you to trust him."

  And he would not say why.

  Gladia tried to trust the robot Giskard, but was glad she did not have to try to like him. Something about him made her shiver.

  She had both Daneel and Giskard as effective parts of her establishment for many decades during which Fastolfe had held titular ownership. It was only on his deathbed that Han Fastolfe had actually transferred ownership. Giskard was the second item, after Daneel, that Fastolfe had left Gladia.

  She had said to the old man, "Daneel is enough, Han. Your daughter Vasilia would like to have Giskard. I'm sure of that."

  Fastolfe was lying in bed quietly, eyes closed, looking more peaceful than she had seen him look in years. He did not answer immediately and for a moment she thought he had slipped out of life so quietly that she had not noticed. She tightened her grip on his hand convulsively and his eyes opened.

  He whispered, "I care nothing for my biological daughters, Gladia. For twenty centuries, I have had but one functional daughter and that has been you. I want you to have Giskard. He is valuable."

  "Why is he valuable?"

  "I cannot say, but I have always found his presence consoling. Keep him always, Gladia. Promise me that."