The experiment continues in the 4th installment of Isaac Asimov's Robot City. 5 authors were instructed to write novels in the 6 book series and stay within the parameters set by Asimov in his 3 laws of Robotics. Each one of these books explores a different what if. In this book the what if is, "What if robots could develop an artistic sense and a sense of humor?" That is what keeps humans human is that we can express our emotions through art and that we have a sense of humor. Can a purely logic functioning robot be funny or creative?
In "Prodigy" the robots seem to have found a creative outlet, at least a choice few. While Derec is contemplating a way to get off the planet of robots a strange light comes from the center of the city/planet. The source of the light seems to be emanating from a strange cube. Derec along with Ariel, the robot Mandelbrot, and the alien Wolruff, head toward the cube only to find that the residents of robot city also seem to be curious and heading that way as well.
At the center of town is a cube displaying many patterns of lights and colors and can only be described as a piece of art. But who created this art? As it turns a robot created the work and not only has a robot shown creativity and independent thinking but another group of artists/robots (later named the 3 cracked cheeks) Benny, Harry and M334 are working on developing a combination music (swing/jazz) and comedy team. Of course subtleties such as sarcasm need a human fine touch, so they ask Derec for some help. Curious as to how robots could have developed such "human traits" Derec agrees to help so he can also explore this phenomenon.
The artist responsible for the cube of art, Lucius, also holds Derec's interest and Derec sets up some time with Lucius to study his positronic brain paths to find how this has happened. Before Derec can meet with Lucius, Ariel discover's Lucius' deactivated and destroyed body at the bottom of a reservoir. So now a mystery is afoot.
The 3 laws of robotics do not prevent a robot from destroying another robot, but Derec finds the idea appalling and sets out to get the robot responsible to find the error in his way. He suspects a robot by the name of Canute and to expose the robot Derec takes the development of creative robots one step further and has a theatre built and trains the robots in the fine art of acting. The play performed, "Hamlet" is set to expose Canute. At this point it is neat to point out the aspect of the play within the play of Hamlet was set to expose the murderous Claudius, and Canute is to portray Claudius.
After the play is performed the creator of Robot City, Dr. Avery, returns and is upset at Derec and Ariel for destroying his Robot City Experiment.