Tag Archive | Earth

Pebble in the Sky by Isaac Asimov

Format: Paperback
Rating:  5 Stars
Reviewer: Laurel

I clearly wasn’t paying attention when I picked up this book to read, as I hadn’t realised it was a GE tale. So I was delighted to discover I was in a corner of the Foundation empire, albeit a very distant, small corner. Nonetheless, this book, while focussed on Earth, retains the vastness of the GE, and so it was perfect for me.

Joseph Schwartz, in the 20th century, picks up his foot and puts it down in GE 827. Disoriented and confused, he finds himself at a farmstead among people who speak a language incomprehensible to him – as his is to them. Soon he finds himself the subject of a scientific experiment, the Synapsifier, purported to make people very, VERY clever.

Meanwhile, Bel Arvardan, an archaeologist from Sirius, arrives on Earth, intent on proving once and for all that it is the planet origin of the human race. He has his suspicions, but proof would be appreciated.

It doesn’t take any kind of degree to realise that, in Joseph Schwartz, Arvardan has the proof he’s searching for, but more problematic is the Society of Ancients, the rulers of Earth and their hide-bound prejudices – not to mention their intent on wiping out the rest of the Galactic Empire with some nasty bug they’ve developed – and other obstacles that stand in the way of Arvardan even knowing of Schwartz’s existence.

I always love a good story from Asimov, and this is no exception. I didn’t see the resolution coming, and to that I doff my proverbial cap to this master of deception and storytelling.

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We Can Remember it for You Wholesale by Philip K Dick

Source: Own Collection
Format: Softcover
Rating:  4 Stars
Reviewer: Laurel

I read this after watching Total Recall (2012). I now clearly need to watch the Arnold Schwarzenegger version.

This story is actually one of Dick’s funnier stories – although it has a sobering side too. But oh-so-frustrating for some of the characters. Of course, I’ll leave you to figure out why.

In this short story, Dick scratches at the itch people have to do something meaningful with their lives. Douglas Quail is an everyman, ordinary, lowly, with a humdrum life to suit. He lives on Earth, and works as a clerk. In the midst of his humdrum life, he has seen a business called Rekal – a place where one can obtain one’s wildest fantasies, not just as an observer, but experientially. And when we meet up with him at Rekal, he’s about to receive his fantasy – to be a secret agent working on Mars.

For all its brevity, this story is quite convoluted. And very well-written. Dick doesn’t add fluff or overmuch setting to his stories, and yet one gets a sense of the world around the characters through their eyes. And as I said up top, this is one of his more amusing ventures.