Lije Baley as a Classic Detective in Isaac Asimov's "Caves of Steel"


G. Stolyarov II

See Mr. Stolyarov's Index of Selected Writings, Originally Published on Associated Content / Yahoo! Voices.
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Note from the Author: This essay was originally written in 2001 and published in four parts on Associated Content (subsequently, Yahoo! Voices) in 2007, where it received over 400 page views. To preserve a record of my writings following the shutdown of Yahoo! Voices in 2014, I have given this article a permanent presence on this page.

~ G. Stolyarov II, July 29, 2014

A classic detective has certain features that are readily observable in most books of the mystery genre. A classic detective is usually a member of a law enforcement agency or has some type of communication with one. A classic detective looks after both types of evidence, physical and verbal, and puts both together to obtain the solution. A classic detective usually works with a partner, but always obtains the solution to the mystery before his/her partner does. A classic detective is also instrumental in bringing the criminal to justice after he discovers who the criminal is.

Lije Baley, the detective in Isaac Asimov's science fiction mystery novel Caves of Steel, has these aspects of a classic detective. He works for a police department in New York City and maintains frequent communication with his colleagues, one of whom happens to be the murderer. He searches for both types of evidence, questioning many people, including Daneel, Clousarr, Jessie, Fastolfe, Gerrigel, and Enderby. He also looks for physical evidence in films of Dr. Sarton's corpse. Other physical evidence Baley analyzes includes Julius Enderby's broken glasses, R. Sammy's deactivation by an Alpha Sprayer from Williamsburg Power Plant, R. Daneel's deactivated blaster, and the fact that no murder weapon was found at the scene of the crime.

By combining this evidence, Baley puts forth the theory that Enderby murdered Sarton by accident, after mistaking him for R. Daneel, and that R. Sammy brought the blaster into Spacetown, which explains why Enderby had no weapon at the time of his entry into Spacetown and why he would wish to deactivate R. Sammy for knowing too much.

Baley works with a robot partner, R. Daneel Olivaw, through whom he gains clues that are instrumental to the solution. However, he develops the solution before R. Daneel does since he is able to realize that Enderby could have committed the murder by accident. When he solves the mystery, he agrees to keep Enderby's secret on the condition that Enderby agrees to promote the Earth's colonization of new planets that would follow. Therefore, an agreement is reached by which Enderby will not murder again and will promote ideas that are most beneficial to the survival of civilization and the progress of mankind.

Lije Baley has certain unique aspects about him, which depart from the classical detective paradigm. One of his techniques is to develop theories quickly and test them, even if he is unsure that they are accurate. If his first theory is wrong, he discards it and tries again until he gets closer to his goal. When questioning suspects, he follows an extremely chivalrous approach, since he reveals his thoughts to the party being interrogated and renders the latter aware that he is suspected of certain actions. This method works well, since the suspect will attempt to give information that would defend him, and Lije will accept or discard this information based on any previous facts that he may have received. He prefers to use his authority as a policeman to enter certain ordinarily restricted places, such as the Williamsburg Power Plant, and to communicate with people that may provide useful information, such as Dr. Gerrigel and Dr. Fastolfe.

Lije Baley follows the pattern of the classic detective, but also has some unique techniques. His openness and willingness to always explain his intentions make him a fascinating character who will appeal to mystery readers.

Gennady Stolyarov II (G. Stolyarov II) is an actuary, science-fiction novelist, independent philosophical essayist, poet, amateur mathematician, composer, and Editor-in-Chief of The Rational Argumentator, a magazine championing the principles of reason, rights, and progress. 

In December 2013, Mr. Stolyarov published Death is Wrong, an ambitious children’s book on life extension illustrated by his wife Wendy. Death is Wrong can be found on Amazon in paperback and Kindle formats.

Mr. Stolyarov has contributed articles to the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies (IEET), The Wave Chronicle, Le Quebecois Libre, Brighter Brains Institute, Immortal Life, Enter Stage RightRebirth of Reason, The Liberal Institute, and the Ludwig von Mises Institute.

In an effort to assist the spread of rational ideas, Mr. Stolyarov published his articles on Associated Content (subsequently the Yahoo! Contributor Network and Yahoo! Voices) from 2007 until Yahoo! closed this venue in 2014. Mr. Stolyarov held the highest Clout Level (10) possible on the Yahoo! Contributor Network and was one of its Page View Millionaires, with over 3,175,000 views. Mr. Stolyarov’s selected writings from that era have been preserved on this page.

Mr. Stolyarov holds the professional insurance designations of Associate of the Society of Actuaries (ASA), Associate of the Casualty Actuarial Society (ACAS), Member of the American Academy of Actuaries (MAAA), Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter (CPCU), Associate in Reinsurance (ARe), Associate in Regulation and Compliance (ARC), Associate in Personal Insurance (API), Associate in Insurance Services (AIS), Accredited Insurance Examiner (AIE), and Associate in Insurance Accounting and Finance (AIAF).

Mr. Stolyarov has written a science fiction novel, Eden against the Colossus, a philosophical treatise, A Rational Cosmology,  a play, Implied Consent, and a free self-help treatise, The Best Self-Help is Free. You can watch his YouTube Videos.Mr. Stolyarov can be contacted at

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Learn about Mr. Stolyarov's novel, Eden against the Colossus, here.

Read Mr. Stolyarov's new comprehensive treatise, A Rational Cosmology, explicating such terms as the universe, matter, space, time, sound, light, life, consciousness, and volition, here.

Read Mr. Stolyarov's new four-act play, Implied Consent, a futuristic intellectual drama on the sanctity of human life, here.