After a 26-year absence: another full-length appearance for the dogged sleuth Elijah Baley and his humanlike robot-sidekick, Daneel. (The Caves of Steel, 1954; The Naked Sun, 1957.) This time, Earthman Baley is summoned to the manicured, unexciting Spacer world Aurora, where a Daneel-lookalike robot, Jander, has been mysteriously brain-killed. Only robotics wizard Hah Fastolfe has the expertise to manage such a feat--but Falstolfe built Daneel and Jander, and denies all knowledge of the crime. All this fuss over a dead robot? Well, the real issue is: Fastolfe's political faction hopes to renew the drive to colonize new worlds, with short-lived, despised Earth people as the pioneers; the opposition plans to use Daneel-type robots, which would result in a succession of dull, Aurora-like planets in cultural stagnation. So, to win, the opposition must discredit Fastolfe and force him to yield his secret robot designs. Baley, as usual, stumbles around in the dark, making wild accusations in a tiresome effort to develop data; he also gets re-involved with old flame Gladia of Solaria. And he eventually resolves the dispute. . .although there's a final surprise involving robot Giskard, who often upstages Daneel. This long-distance sequel, then, bears a strong surface similarity to those classics of the Fifties. Unfortunately, however, it lacks their fire and inventiveness--bogging down in talky, sometimes implausible sleuthing, with no real villains or life-and-death issues. Still: all Asimovites will want to give the new Baley a try, especially after the recent bestseller-comeback for the Foundation series.