Tag Archive | Isaac Asimov

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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What If— by Isaac Asimov

Source: Own Collection
Format: Hardcover
Rating:  3 Stars
Reviewer: Laurel

I don’t think this is one of Asimov’s best stories – and I’ve read many, as he happens to be one of my favourite authors. However, it does a good job of illustrating some of the…pitfalls…of playing the “What if?” game using the costruct of alternate reality.

In this short story, a woman is travelling with her husband on a train. She’s somewhat insecure about herself, so is constantly playing the “What if?” game. Which she proceeds to do while sitting on the train. In a somewhat surreal turn for Asimov, along comes a character who offers her a chance to see what her life would have been like if….

The story is well written, and keeps to the point. Somewhat amusing. Not much else, really.