The novel begins with Roderick working as a bowl-washer at Danton's Doggie Dinette, but he does not manage to keep even that job, and he is soon reduced to destitution, hanging out with beggars and freaks. He wants to help but when he offers assistance to the police, they ignore him.
The original novel, Roderick, described his being created in secrecy and illegally, and people have been hunting him ever since (including a one-legged man to hunt the fugitive robot), but Roderick stays free. However, everything goes against him, yet for all his education, and Roderick is a very well intentioned robot keen on self-improvement and eager to help others, he does not realise how bad the world is.
At one stage we hear Roderick's fantasies, all taken from books of extreme violence, but they don't mean anything to him until three hundred pages later it does strike home, and he becomes a robot suicide.
The Roderick books are the product of a massive intention. The plotting is very elaborate, for instance, and Roderick himself is only one strand of the novel, there are two or three others which are intertwined. Equally they are works of Swiftian, intense satire - but they are very black. The whole moral that Roderick has to learn (and which kills him) is that nearly everyone is self-interested, most of those that are not are perverts, and the rest are affected by a cruel indifference.
With their background in robotics the books include philosophic and logical discussions as well as a wide range of literature, and they are full of pastiche and reference - how many people now remember television's The Fugitive and the one-armed man? or that George Orwell's first book was about his experiences washing dishes in a large Parisian hotel? - and in that sense are densely written.
Where some people would disagree with me is this: I don't find the two books very funny; but, that does not stop them being very clever and a good read.
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