Robots of Saturn

By Joseph Greene

Summary: In their most daring venture yet, the three Space Explorers set out to mine the rings of Saturn! An expedition to the planet discovered that the rings of Saturn are the only place in the Solar System where Methane-X can be found -- and Methane-X is the key material Space Research needs in order to build an interstellar spaceship.

But mining the rings of Saturn is too hazardous a task for human beings: the ice flows in the Rings would kill any ordinary human being. The brilliant Professor Norwyn, however, has come up with a solution: the M-Roboots.

M-Robots are no ordinary machines: they are fantastically powerful robot bodies. With the right equipment, Professor Norwyn can transfer the consciousness of a human being into the robot. Once the person is transferred, the person can see through the robot's eyes, move the robot's body -- and has the robot's invulnerability, which is critical to carrying out any mining expeditions.

At first everything goes well at Saturn and the Space Explorers are able to get a valuable cargo of the Methane-X gas. But soon things go awry: the Explorers start glimpsing other golden robots -- robots which couldn't exist -- and then the entire crew disappears. Soon Dig and Ken find themselves battling a horde of sentient, intelligent robots -- robots under the command of Professor Norwyn, who seems bent on destroying them all!


An Overview

Thayne Harmon has e-mailed me a two-part overview of this book! I am very glad to at last have an overview of this fine book to post on the website. Thanks a lot! Without further ado, here is the review!


Robots of Saturn - Overview

 The following is a chapter-by-chapter overview of the major points of the book, courtesy of Thayne Harmon. It is followed by a review of the book.


1)      Signal from space

a)      The boys receive a message from their father to meet him at an asteroid in the asteroid belt.

b)      The message has a time but no date ñ this really would not have happened as it would have been automatic.

c)      They get their first view of the Golden Robots


2)      The Man-Robots

a)      The technology is maybe not as future looking as it could be, yet the technology to transfer the mind to a robot body is defiantly future looking.

b)      The idea of controlling mechanical device using brain waves is certainly a doable thing today.

c)      The boys learn that they are going to Saturn to mine the rings for material call methane X from the asteroid Eros.

d)      Maxie, one of the men using the robots is lost in the asteroids.


3)      The Secret Enemy

a)      They spread out and look for Maxie, Dr. Barry consoles Prof. Norwyn.

b)      Maxie is able to transfer his self back to his body.

c)      Maxie says he was hit by an electric bolt bomb.

d)      Dr. Barry believes it is to stop his going to Saturn.

e)      P. Norwyn believes it is to steal his robots.

f)        A transmitter is found and reports were sent on the robots testing, it was set to go off automatically.


4)      Lost Robot!

a)      Greg transfers into Maxieís body so that the space explorers can home in on his radio signal.

b)      They discover an Emergency call transmitter set to go off in 3 months.

c)      The robot was not lost but hidden.


5)      The Rings of Saturn

a)      Negative matter on Eros the asteroid spaceship was discovered and the reason for going to Saturnís rings to mine the special material.

b)      Methane-X, Metalex is the material that is used to power Eros, the asteroid spaceship.

c)      They head for Saturn, they will arrive there first, the sled is in the cargo hold to help with the exploring.


6)      The Cassini Space-Gap

a)      They reach Saturn and start looking for the guide signal on the inner edge of the first ring or outer edge of the Cassini gap.

b)      They find the guide signal and park the ship; they head out with the sled into the thick of the ring to find base camp.

c)      Fresh footprints are seen in the snow on the ground by the huts.


7)      Into Saturnís Rings

a)      The beagle arrives and the man-robots are setup in camp.

b)      Dig Allen takes Maxieís place in the Robots.

c)      A spear is used to test for the methane-X, Dig transfer into the Robot body.


8)      Search for X

a)       They find that methane-x is under the surface and that it evaporates from the surface.

b)      The ice sample that Dig brought back had very little methane-x in it; it had evaporated.


9)      The Phantom Robot

a)      They decide to use a plastic bag to move the ice.

b)      The professor bursts out with an angry call of taking his robots of going to the sun with them.

c)      They begin mining the ice digging a tunnel.

d)      Dig sees a robot a footprints leading away from the tunnel.

e)      Dig mistrusts Greg for suggesting that he is seeing ghosts.


10)  Danger in the Ice

a)      Jim and Greg bring in the ice. Dr Barry starts making metalex.

b)      An electric bolt bomb is tossed into the tunnel and the tunnel melts around them and the robot bodies become lifeless.

c)      Greg transfers himself back to his body.


11)  The Ice Coffin

a)      Jim transfers himself back to his body.

b)      The robot bodies are buried in the tunnel.

c)      Ken and Dig go to try and free the robots and navigate the ice field.

d)      They get caught under a snow ball and almost get squished; they cut themselves out.

e)      They find the robots and cut them free.

f)        They find ECTs on them set for two weeks.

g)      The camp is deserted.


12)  Ghost Camp

a)      Ken and Dig find the oxygen tanks empty, the amplifier gone, and the air compressor disabled.

b)      They can not raise anyone on their helmet communications.

c)      They transfer into the man robots which were still at the dig site and headed for the beagle.

d)      They run into other robots aboard the Beagle.


13)  The Saturn Robots

a)      Jim is taken to the beagle to recover with Greg, robot-shock.

b)      The Sensitronic robots come aboard the beagle ant take P. Norwyn and Dr. Barry away. They leave guards, saying there is danger to the humans.

c)      Prisoners because of the 3rd commandment.

d)      Maxie appreciated the cold logic of the S-robots; maybe there really was a danger here.


14)  The Five Commandments

a)      Ken and Dig board the beagle and run into the S-robots.

b)      The s-robots were making food for the crew.

c)      They find Greg and Jim in the infirmary, where each share what they know is going on.

d)      The 5 commandments:

i)        A robot shall not harm a human being.

ii)       A robot shall not permit harm to come to a human being.

iii)     A robot shall not permit a human being to bring harm to himself.

iv)     A robot must obey all orders given him by a human being, except when such orders break any of the first three commandments.

v)      A robot must protect himself from harm, except when such action breaks any of the first four commandments.


15)  Decoy

a)      The s-robots tell them to check in, they knock the s-robot out.

b)      They leave the infirmary with the others, but are stopped by the s-robots.

c)      Greg and Maxie throw themselves at the s-robots to slow them down while Dig, Ken, and Jim escape through the air lock.

d)      The s-robots give chase, they head to camp.

e)      Dig separates to lead the s-robots off while Jim and Ken escape to camp.

f)        Dig dodges and runs for thirty minutes and then hides, hoping that the s-robots would pass by, however they stop, no trail, and begin to search the satellite.


16)  The Hidden Spaceship

a)      Jim and Ken make it to camp and Ken gets out of the robot.

b)      One of the s-robots had been waiting for him to come out of hiding

c)      The s-robot tries to outwit him with words while buying time for the other s-robots to come

d)      Dig and the s-robot begin to fight as dig tries to get away.

e)      Dig manages to break the eye of the s-robot and gets away.

f)        The other s-robots arrive and converse with master control

g)      The others head back to the ship, the one with the damaged eye heads to the camp, Dig follows

h)      The s-robot enters in a snow mound some distance from the camp

i)        Dig finds that a spaceship was hidden under the snow mound


17)  The Trap

a)      Dig goes back to camp and has Ken get back into his robot, they head back to the buried spaceship

b)      Jim builds a radio-amp from the other space suits while he waits

c)      They find a view port on the buried ship a see P. Norwyn working on the s-robot with the broken eye

d)      The fixed robot leaves, Ken and Dig enter into the ship

e)      They head for the control room and are caught, they are lead to the Dr Barryís lab to wait for professor Norwyn to repair them from thinking human


18)  Robotís Choice

a)      Dr Barry recognized them to be Ken and Dig

b)      They are taken to P. Norwynís  lab which is next to the control cabin

c)      They try to break into the control cabin but cannot

d)      The professor is made, does not want them to ìsaveî them and said that the s-robots wanted them to return to there bodies

e)      Dig asks for the cutting torch, the professor was startled by the request, but goes to the closet to get it

f)        Professor Norwyn closes the door behind him.

g)      Dig suspects the professor because he had said that the s-robots wanted them to return to their human bodies, but how did they know.

h)      A s-robot comes through the control cabin door and throws a bolt bomb at the boys, Dr Barry dives to intercept, but the s-robot grabs the bomb from him and it explodes, the s-robot dies


19)  Revenge!

a)      The professor goes mad raging about Dr Barry stealing his fame

b)      The professor agreed to help so that he could steal the metalex

c)      He wanted to make man-robots out of metalex and walk on the sun

d)      The professor grabs a bolt bomb and threatens to throw at anyone

e)      The professor throws the bomb it hits Ken and explodes

f)        The professor commands the s-robots hide the spaceships in the rings


20)  To Walk on the Sun

a)      Dig and Ken transfer back to their bodies and disconnect as the professor throws the bolt bomb

b)      The boys returned back to their bodies and rose as a surprised professor and Dr Barry stared on

c)      Ken went to the control cabin and raised the ship

d)      Dr Barry forgives the professor and says they can continue to make the metalex man-robots

e)      The professor turns control back over to the ship crews and for the s-robots to obey them

f)        The boys return to their bodies, Greg and Maxie begin mining again

g)      Jim had painted Kenís and Digís faces



An Overview

This is the 5th book in the series, and continues the story of Eros the asteroid spaceship and colony.  Dr. Barry has found that there are thousands of metal plates buried just under the surface of the asteroid and that by applying power to the plates can cause a pull or push and that this is how the asteroid traveled.  The plates had an unknown metal labeled metalex made from methane-x in them.  Captain Boyd Allen, Dig Allenís dad had found that the methane-x existed in the rings of Saturn and had established a base camp for mining the material.

The World Council had asked Professor Norwyn to assist with his new man-robots; Robots that a humanís thoughts could be transferred into and become the robot. This allowed for dangerous and other kinds of work to be done. Dr. Barry, Ken and Jimís dad ask them and Dig to come to Saturn and help. They arrive at the rings of Saturn first and discovered strange things. After the main ship (the Beagle) arrives, accidents begin to happen; a man-robot gets lost and the man-robots get buried in ice. Dig and Ken rescue the man-robots from the ice only to find the camp deserted. They also find finder beacons on the man-robotís bodies.

They find that professor Norwyn has built S-Robots that have 5 commandments to follow and one is to protect humans from themselves. They have imprisoned the crews on the Beagle and are forcing Dr. Barry to make the metalex and Professor Norwyn to build another man-robot from it. Dig and Ken free the Beagleís crew and find out that it has been Professor Norwyn commanding the S-robots all along due to a grudge against Dr. Barry. Professor Norwyn wanted to send his man-robots to the Sun, and felt robbed by having to help Dr. Barry.


A Second Overview

I enjoyed this book immensely, it cleverness, danger, intrigue, and possibilities. It is fast paced, with something happening all the time. The man-robots made the boys feel all powerful, being able jump great distances with built in jet packs and powerful fists that can crush blocks of ice. Then there are the Sensitronic robots with thinking minds of their own and commandments that protect human life over their own. They are not sentient, but close. The chase scene is intense and just when you think you got away your caught staring an S-robot in the face upside down. Ships buried in the hillside, and secret laboratories. All of this while floating in a grinding mass of ice and rock hanging over a huge gaseous planet in the rings of Saturn. It was just plain exciting. I found this book very plausible, the transferring of a personís mind into a robot to be very intriguing. Although this may seem fanciful, remember we can already manipulate synthetic arms and legs with impulses of the nerves. If all functionality was to be connected and manipulated, one could be seeing what the robots see and then with textile feedback manipulate the robots arms and legs, etc.  The going to Saturn and mining the rings is definitely doable once the space travel time issue gets resolved. They talk of negative matter, or anti-matter, imagine that, something that has been basically proven. The one thing that is disjointed is that of seemingly old technology being used to put in place quite futuristic ideas. There, the author perhaps lacked some vision or perhaps knowledge of what was in other peopleís minds for the future. I will admit that a lot of the technology has happen in the past few years, a cascading effect.

 Thayne Harmon


My Rating:

4 stars out of 5. This book is one of the most imaginative books of the series: the Methane-X, the mining expedition to Saturn and the fantastic M-Robots are brilliant ideas that are carried out very well. The story is well carried out, and the characters (with the exception of the mad scientist) are plausible. Keith Barry's strong leading role greatly adds to the book. The portion of the book when the sentient robots chased the boys through the Rings of Saturn would make a stunning visual, and the scene inside the rocket when the mad scientist tries to kill boys is well done. I would recommend this book; it is one of the highlights of the series.

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