Reviews: Asimov, Isaac

Cops and Robots

The Caves of Steel — Isaac Asimov

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!

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One classic and three others

The Martian Way and Other Stories — Isaac Asimov

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?

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The Big Picture

The Hugo Winners, Volumes One and Two — Isaac Asimov

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.

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Against irrational exuberance the fans themselves contend in vain

The Gods Themselves — Isaac Asimov

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….

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Back to Asimov

Nightfall and Other Stories — Isaac Asimov

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.

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“Because my tears are delicious to you” does not earn its title

The Planet That Wasn’t — Isaac Asimov

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).

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