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The third book in Isaac Asimov's "Robot Trilogy". Elijah "Lije" Baley, now a leader in a movement encouraging humans on Earth to learn to live outside the confines of their domed cities, is summoned to the de facto capital world of the Spacers, Aurora to solve a murder mystery. Once again he will partner with R. Daneel Olivaw (the "R" stands for "Robot") and once again will he face political intrigue alongside seemingly impossible circumstances to solve the crime and get his man.
Sequel to The Naked Sun and The Caves of Steel. The Robots of Dawn features a slightly softer brand of science fiction than the previous two books in the series. It also introduces the character of R. Giskard Reventlov, who would go on to star in Robots and Empire, the sequel to the Robot Trilogy and bridging novel between that series and chronologically later parts of Asimov's greater canon.
- Almighty Janitor - Giskard
- Androids and Detectives - While the actual partnering aspect is downplayed in this novel, the dichotomy between Lije and Daneel (as well as Lije and Giskard) is still in full effect.
- Always Murder - With the twist this time - the victim is humanoid robot, like Daneel.
- And Man Grew Proud - Fastolfe says that this is the way the Spacers are headed.
- Armor-Piercing Question - "How did you know that Gladia thought of Jander as her husband?"
- Author Filibuster - Asimov (through Gladia) goes on at some length a couple times in the book on the nature of sex.
- Big Bad - Kelden Amadiro, Fastolfe's rival, has ill intentions toward earth, and targets Lije and Falstolfe as symbols of his intentions.
- Big Good - Han Fastolfe, though his demeanor is highly worrying.
- Bluffing the Murderer - Lije tricks Amadiro into stating he conducted experiments on Jander in front of witnesses.
- Canon Welding - This book marks the beginning of Asimov welding the Robot stories with his Foundation series. Numerous references are made to "psychohistory" and humanity creating a "Galactic Empire." Also, for anyone in doubt as to whether the Lije Baily/R. Daneel Olivaw books have any connection to his other robot stories, references are made to Susan Calvin (in particular the short story "Liar"), as well as "Bicentennial Man".
- Chekhov's Gun - Giskard came to Lije's rescue during an agoraphobic panic attack on the spaceship approaching Aurora, even though he was outside and Daneel was inside the room at the time.
- The Determinator - Lije. Having to face his most crippling fears may slow him down, but they will not stop him.
- Double Standard Rape (Female on Male): Gladia on Elijah, while Elijah is half asleep.
- Epiphanic Prison - Giskard's opinion is that Earth's people are the ones who'll have to colonize the Galaxy... because they, at least, can see the walls of their prison.
- Everybody Smokes - Subverted, since Elijah quit after the second book.
- Expecting Someone Taller - The story of Baley's previous investigation was made into a "hyperwave drama". Consequently, everybody who he meets Baley tells him that he doesn't look like the actor playing him (who was younger and more handsome).
- Fair Play Whodunnit
- Foreign Cuisine - Baley has trouble stomaching Auroran coffee. The rest of the time, it's subverted.
- Free-Love Future - Aurora is a completely sexually open society, so much that (according to Gladia), sex became pretty much boring with no emotional contact. Dr. Fastolfe insisted that she exaggerates (being a desperate woman who came from No Sex Allowed society), and in reality, sex is not taken that lightly. He, himself, is considered somewhat weird for being monogamous while married.
- Freud Was Right - Played with. Vasilia offers herself (i.e. proposes sexual intercourse) to her father, Han Fastolfe, though she insists that this was because he was the only man she knew up to that point. He himself believed it was natural for her, since he was close to her and educated her on the subject, and for the life of him couldn't figure out why he refused.
- Guile Hero - Lije, of course. He's a detective, and has very little in the way of resources to work with.
- I Just Want My Beloved to Be Happy - Lije to Gladia.
- MacGuffin - The Big Bad wants Daneel, the first (and, to some, best) humanoid robot for study purposes.
- Psychic Powers - The final plot twist is that Giskard is both the real killer and a psychic robot. He puts a lock on Lije's mind, preventing Lije from ever revealing Giskard's powers, even accidentally. This is also what makes this book softer on the Mohs Scale of Sci Fi Hardness than its predecessors.
- Ridiculously-Human Robots - Daneel is humanoid in appearance and somewhat in behavior, but unlike on Solaria and Earth, where such a robot would be unimaginable, the Aurorans are not fooled in the least.
- Sequel Gap: Published 26 years after The Naked Sun.
- Utopia Justifies the Means - Amadiro doesn't much care who gets hurt in his quest to populate the Galaxy with Aurora colonies indistinguishable from the original.
- White and Grey Morality - While Amadiro is clearly the bad guy, he is a Well-Intentioned Extremist at worst. He does what he does in the novel not for power, but because he honestly believes it's the best solution for his beloved homeland.
- Xanatos Speed Chess - Amadiro attempts this in the novel. It doesn't work out for him.