Monday, 13 January 2020

The Science Fiction Novel - Isaac Asimov

There a little snowflakes fluttering about today. Temperatures are around -5 Celsius, the coldest we've had here in quite awhile. Hoping it doesn't snow too much as Bonnie has an appointment early tomorrow morning. Our sneaky little Clyde managed to pull off his bandage last night. We had put a fresh one on his foot just to keep it secure for walks the next few days but he didn't like how well we did it so during the night he just pulled it off. A new one, more secure is on now. Lol!

Isaac Asimov
Well, let's see. Yesterday in my look at the Science Fiction novel, I highlighted Edmond Hamilton. Today I look at another of my early favorites, Isaac Asimov. Asimov was born in Smolensk, Russia in 1920. He died in Brooklyn in 1992. He was a professor of biochemistry at Boston University and a prolific writer of all genres. Over the course of his life he wrote more than 500 books and 90,000+ letters and post cards.

I believe that my first exposure to Asimov was with his Foundation and Empire trilogy. It featured 3 books, written between 1951 and 1953. The three books were -

a. Foundation FOUNDATION begins a new chapter in the story of man's future. As the Old Empire crumbles into barbarism throughout the million worlds of the galaxy, Hari Seldon and his band of psychologists must create a new entity, the Foundation-dedicated to art, science, and technology-as the beginning of a new empire. 

b. Foundation and Empire FOUNDATION AND EMPIRE describes the mighty struggle for power amid the chaos of the stars in which man stands at the threshold of a new enlightened life which could easily be destroyed by the old forces of barbarism. 

c. Second Foundation SECOND FOUNDATION follows the Seldon Plan after the First Empire's defeat and describes its greatest threat-a dangerous mutant strain gone wild, which produces a mind capable of bending men's wills, directing their thoughts, reshaping their desires, and destroying the universe.

It was such a fascinating series, the scope, the political intrigue, the characters. I remember loving it. Now since then, Asimov did write other books in this series, those I haven't read.... yet. In 1981, he was persuaded to write a 4th book, Foundation's Edge (I may have read this, but I can't remember). He wrote another sequel, Foundation and Earth (1986) and then two prequels, Prelude to Foundation (1988) and Forward to Foundation (published after his death in 1993).

After the Foundation trilogy, I got quite hooked on his Robot books;

a. The Caves of Steel (1954)
b. The Naked Sun (1957)
c. The Robots of Dawn (1983)
d. Robots and Empire (1985)

These books were a combination of Sci-Fi and mystery. They elaborated on Asimov's 3 basic laws of robotics; 

First Law
A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
Second Law
A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
Third Law
A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws.

These books were also excellent mysteries featuring detective Elijah Baley. In The Caves of Steel, he works with robot investigator Daneel.

Over the years, I've enjoyed many other Asimov stories. In 1966, he wrote The Fantastic Voyage, which was turned into a movie with Raquel Welch, amongst others. It tells the story of a team which must be miniaturized and injected into the blood stream of a scientist who is dying and their efforts to defeat the cause. In 1987, he wrote The Fantastic Voyage II, which while not a sequel to Fantastic Voyage, was an attempt by Asimov to improve on some of the flaws he felt were in the first story.

In 1950, he published I, Robot, which was a collection of previous short stories that he put in one book. As the title indicates, they all dealt with robotic issues, each story told by Dr. Susan Calvin to a reporter and each dealing with a moral, ethical issue involving robots and challenges to the laws of robotics. The book contained 9 stories and in introduction. Each was fascinating as I recall.

Now it's possible I may have read more of Asimov's Sci-Fi contributions than I realize as he has been prolific. Of late, I've begun to explore his mystery contributions, the Tales of the Black Widowers, but those don't belong in this discussion. (Well worth checking out, mind you). The complete list of his works can be found at this link.

I hope you enjoy exploring his works. Have a great week!

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