Posts Tagged ‘isaac asimov’

The End of Eternity

Friday, December 25th, 2015 | Books

The End of Eternity is a science fiction novel by Isaac Asimov. It is one of a handful of full-length novels that does not form part of one series or another (Robot, Foundation, Empire).

It’s a wonderful read. It explores the idea of time travel and the causal loops and problems that follow from that. It had some suspense, but once you have read some Asimov some of it is a little predictable. Other bits are brilliant because I should have been so closing to getting it but did not quite make it.

This is one of my favourite Asimov novels.


Pebble in the Sky

Saturday, December 12th, 2015 | Books

Pebble in the Sky is the third novel in Isaac Asimov’s galactic empire series. The empire of Trantor is now firmly established and spreading to every corner of the galaxy.

Earth on the other hand is not doing so well. The people of the galaxy have forgotten that it was the original home world of man, and Earth has fallen out with the rest of the galaxy. However, they gave a secret plan to destroy the empire.

Having read the Foundation series, it adds a different perspective. Spoilers start here by the way. This novel ends with a note of hope that Earth will rebuild. However, as those of us who have read Foundation and Earth will know, it doesn’t.

Foundation also benefits from originally having been short stories merged into novels. This means a lot happens and you see the story unfold over hundreds of years. The galactic empire series typically take place on one or two planets, and not much happens. They are still good, but it does not have quite the same effect of the first Asimov novels I read.

It does do an excellent job of constructing the amazing world that makes Asimov’s storytelling so enjoyable though. The far future, and the familiar, blended into one.


The Currents of Space

Thursday, December 10th, 2015 | Books

The Currents of Space is the second novel in Isaac Asimov’s galactic empire series. The first in the series, The Stars, Like Dust was not one of my favourite Asimov novels but this one is an improvement.

It still lacks that grander scale of lots of things happening, that the Foundation series has. However, it does open it up to the wider galaxy. It might all take place on two planets, but the empire of Trantor is there and on the rise.

The story follows the two planets of Sark and Florina. The former exploits the latter for it’s valuable kyrt plantations. But what length will they to go to protect it?


The Stars, Like Dust

Wednesday, December 9th, 2015 | Books

The Stars, Like Dust is the first in Isaac Asimov’s Galactic Empire series of novels. I had grand visions when I started reading it. It would be the missing link between Robot series and the Foundation series, looking at the growing empire as it expanded and conquered the galaxy.

It was not like that. The empire never even comes into it. It talks about the fighting of a few kingdoms that control some planets. It is apparently set before the empire really arises and while it is okay as a standalone novel, it lacks the grip and brilliance of the better Asimov novels.

It is also a little predictable. Once you have read the Foundation series, you can pretty much guess where the rebellion world turns out to be. They came out at about the same time, so you could argue it the other way around of course.


Robot Dreams

Sunday, November 29th, 2015 | Books

Robot Dreams is a compilation of short stories by Isaac Asimov. It contains a mixture of his work, including the robot series, but also the multivac series, and unrelated science fiction stories. A few I had already read in The Complete Robot but most were new to me.

I think I enjoyed the book slightly more than The Complete Robot as a lot of the stories felt more polished. Overall, I remain more a fan of his full-length novels than his short stories, though both are good.

The story the book is named after, Robot Dreams is actually one of the worst stories in the book, in my opinion. There does not seem to be a satisfactory motive or conclusion to it.


Robots and Empire

Friday, November 6th, 2015 | Books

Robots and Empire is the forth full-length novel in Isaac Asimov’s Robot series. It is set hundreds of years after The Robots of Dawn and so I assumed it would be more about the creation of the Galactic Empire.

It was in some respects but was mostly another adventure of Daneel, Giskard and Gladia, who has a spacer was still alive even after all this time.

I was originally going to get it as an audiobook, but just before I did, it mysteriously disappeared from the Downpour store. Almost as if someone was removing references to Earth from the Galactic Library…

Robots and  Empire

The Robots of Dawn

Friday, October 2nd, 2015 | Books

The Robots of Dawn is the third novel in Isaac Asimov’s Robot series, following on from The Naked Sun.

It is not my favourite novel. It is approximately twice as long as the previous one, which gives it the noticeable advantage that protagonist Elijah Baley occasionally goes long stretches without yelling “Jehosaphat!” but otherwise makes for a rather long tale.

It is set on the spacer world of Aurora and while it does advance Asimov’s universe in some important ways, a lot of it feels like more of a detective novel than a science fiction story. The conclusion of which is not overly satisfying either.

The Robots of Dawn

The Naked Sun

Friday, September 25th, 2015 | Books

The Naked Sun is the second novel in Issac Asimov’s Robot series. It follows on from The Caves of Steel.

It sees Elijah Baley travel to Solaria to investigate a murder. He is once again accompanied by R. Daneel Olivaw, though he does not play a huge part. On Solaria they find only 20,000 inhabitants who have a taboo against seeing each other (though “viewing” using a 3D video call is fine).

It was an intriguing tale, and one I was loosely familiar with from the Foundation series. I found it a little unbelievable, though. Baley being scared of the outside. Solarians being scared of seeing and touching other people? That just does not seem human.

Of course, taboos can be strong and if you have lived with someone your whole life, you will be conditioned. However, I think the human urge to get together and have sex is a pretty strong one. And studies show that even city-dwellers find the savanna landscape in which we evolved homely, even if they have never been there.

Part of reading science fiction is, of course, suspending your disbelief. However, it felt to me like there was a difference between accepting we have spaceships that travel to other planets and a fundamental change in the human condition without much explanation. At least Brave New World attempted to explain how deep the conditioning went, and even then they had to pack plenty of humans off to the islands.

If you run with it, though, it becomes an interesting thought experiment and an enjoyable read. It also takes another step in building the Asimov universe; another jigsaw piece falls into place.

The Naked Sun

The Caves of Steel

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2015 | Books

Having done some background reading I made a start on the first of Isaac Asimov’s Robot novels, The Caves of Steel. It is set in the semi-near future where positronic robots have been developed and 50 other planets have been colonised.

I came into it thinking there was no way it could be as good as the Foundation series, which is amazing. However, as I go on, I’m less sure. Asimov once again shows why he is the master of science fiction. Blending future technologies with the troubles we all encounter every day he creates a half-exciting believable vision of the future.

Already having been familiar with R. Daneel Olivaw from the Foundation series, it was interesting to go back to his roots. Elijah Baley is a cool character too, walking a nice line between identifiable good guy and man who can get things done.

Definitely worth a read for all science fiction fans.

The Caves of Steel

The Complete Robot

Saturday, September 19th, 2015 | Books

The Complete Robot brings together most of Isaac Asimov’s short stories from the Robot series. It goes on from his early stories and some which are unrelated to the Robot series as it were, while still being about robots. As the book goes on, Asimov builds up the universe that will eventually become the backbone of his science fiction writing.

The short story format works really well for me as I can read a bit, finish a story, then come back to the book later. As a consequence, even though it was almost 700 pages long, it did not feel like a chore to get through.

Some of it is deeply philosophical. Can a robot love? Can it have rights? If you have a pet robot dog, it is less real than having an organic robot dog? How much can you bend the three laws of robotics?

The stories at the beginning were interesting and gave a nice side from everything being in the same universe, but the fiction really comes into its own as the world around it develops. Next I am going to read the Robot novels and continue on to gradually fill in the gap between this and Foundation.

The Complete Robot