A millennium into the future two advancements have altered the course of human history: the colonization of the galaxy and the creation of the positronic brain. Isaac Asimov's Robot novels chronicle the unlikely partnership between a New York City detective and a humanoid robot who must learn to work together. Like most people left behind on an over-populated Earth, New York City police detective Elijah Baley had little love for either the arrogant Spacers or their robotic companions. But when a prominent Spacer is murdered under mysterious circumstances, Baley is ordered to the Outer Worlds to help track down the killer. The relationship between Life and his Spacer superiors, who distrusted all Earthmen, was strained from the start. Then he learned that they had assigned him a partner: R. Daneel Olivaw. Worst of all was that the "R" stood for robot--and his positronic partner was made in the image and likeness of the murder victim!
Though it is a bit dated (I got a good snicker when a scientist uses a slide rule), I can see why this is such a quintessential sci-fi novel. Asimov's view of the future is magnificent. The Book is essentially written in the form of a detective novel. Though the characterization is good, the plot is relativly elementary (I figured out who the murderer was almost immediatly), but that really is not the point of the novel. It's true purpose is to present the reader with an exposition of Asimov's future while taking a few jabs at the contemporary issues of socialism and communism.