1984’s The Science Fictional Olympics is the second anthology in a ten-volume series, Isaac Asimov’s Wonderful Worlds of Science Fiction. Editors: Isaac Asimov, Martin H. Greenberg, and Charles G. Waugh.
Isaac Asimov’s 1955 The End of Eternity is a standalone1 time-travel thriller.
A secretive cabal of Eternals (recruited from the mundanes of various periods) guide human destiny. They monopolize time travel and monitor human societies over a span of 70,000 centuries. They steer societies away from extremes and disasters, towards sustainable optimums. Andrew Harlan is a loyal member of the cabal, known as Eternity.
Or rather, he was. Now he is working to destroy Eternity.
Asimov’s 1950 Pebble in the Sky is either the first (by publication date) or the third (by internal chronology) of three standalone novels (The Stars, Like Dust, The Currents of Space, and Pebble in the Sky) set some millennia prior to the beginning of the Foundation trilogy. The three novels form a loose trilogy that has been dubbed the Empire novels or sometimes the Galactic Empirenovels.
The Stars, Like Dustis set long before Trantor began its rise to power; The Currents of Space is set during its rise. Pebble in the Sky is set at the height of the Galactic Empire’s power.
The book opens with an Eisenhower-era tailor, Joseph Schwartz, who finds himself transported onto a desolate alien world. He later learns that he is still on Earth, an Earth of the far future. The plant has been scoured by nuclear war. Even though this happened some time ago, Earth is still radioactive in places and is largely sterile.
1954’s The Caves of Steel is the first of Isaac Asimov’s novels that feature Elijah Bailey and R. Daneel Olivaw.
Elijah is a human. R. Daneel is a robot. They fight crime!
1955’s The Martian Way and Other Stories is a collection of four short works by Isaac Asimov, one of which is, I think, rather well known. The three others? Not so much. Still, this was one of my go-to books as a teen. I just didn’t (and still don’t) think the other three stories had the same oomph as The Martian Way.
So how well did this classic stand up, you ask?
This week’s Because My Tears are Delicious to You review will cover 1972’s The Hugo Winners, Volume One and Two . For one trivial reason (the book is shelved just at eye height in my path from office to front door) and one literary reason (award winning fiction has been on my mind of late). Just how good — or bad — were the older Hugo winners?
This volume combined two earlier collections, 1961’s The Hugo Winners (later re-titled The Hugo Winners, Volume One ) and 1971’s The Hugo Winners, Volume Two . The whole volume thus includes the Hugo winning novellas and short stories of the 1950s and 1960s .
Incidentally, my copy is the Science Fiction Book Club edition. Older fen will remember that edition from the insert ads that used to grace SF paperbacks 1. What wonders that insert promised! And what structural damage it inflicted on the book binding!
In addition to enjoying many of the stories, I found the book a fascinating testament to the evolution of science fiction, 1950 – 1970.
Following the Soviet Union’s launch of Sputnik in 1957, Russian-born American author Isaac Asimov turned his energies to educating the American public. By the time of his death he had produced non-fiction books in every category of the Dewey Decimal system save the 100s. This came at the expense of his science fiction. Between 1959 and 1972, he published only one novel (a movie tie-in) and a comparative handful of short stories.
Asimov’s 1972 novel The Gods Themselves, his first in thirteen years, must therefore have seemed to many science fiction fans as the return of a giant. But not to me, because I was an eleven-year-old still reading through his entire back list to date; from my point of view there was no hiatus at all. Given the context, I can see why Asimov’s fans went gaga over this novel. I am not entirely certain what I was thinking beyond “yay, another Asimov!”
Asimov’s return to novel-length SF was an ambitious one.…
Blame my fondness for old timey radio for this review. I was re-listening to my archive of X Minus One (a 1955 – 1958 radio program featuring SF content) and was suddenly overcome by an urge to re-read this Asimov collection, an old favourite, after listening to their adaptation of Hostess.
Following the Soviet launch of Sputnik, Russian-born American Isaac Asimov (1920 — 1992) turned from focusing on fiction to a lengthy and extremely diverse series of non-fiction works. To quote Wikipedia, “Asimov’s books span all major categories of the Dewey Decimal Classification except for category 100, philosophy and psychology” (and he had essays and introductions that ventured into category 100).