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SFF Author: Isaac Asimov

Isaac Asimov(1920-1992)
Isaac Asimov was a Russian-born, American author, a professor of biochemistry, and a highly successful writer, best known for his works of science fiction and for his popular science books. Professor Asimov is generally considered the most prolific writer of all time, having written or edited more than 500 books and an estimated 90,000 letters and postcards. Asimov is widely considered a master of the science-fiction genre and, along with Robert A. Heinlein and Arthur C. Clarke, was considered one of the “Big Three” science-fiction writers during his lifetime. He also wrote mysteries and fantasy, as well as a great amount of nonfiction. Asimov wrote the Lucky Starr series of juvenile science-fiction novels using the pen name Paul French. Asimov was a long-time member and Vice President of Mensa International but he took more joy in being president of the American Humanist Association. The asteroid 5020 Asimov, the magazine Asimov’s Science Fiction, a Brooklyn, NY elementary school, and two different Isaac Asimov Awards are named in his honor.



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I, Robot: Some of Asimov’s best stories

I, Robot by Isaac Asimov

“..all conflicts are finally evitable. Only the Machines, from now on, are inevitable”

Most science fiction fans know Isaac Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics:

  1. Robots must not hurt human beings or allow them to come to harm.
  2. Robots must obey human beings so far as it doesn’t violate Law 1.
  3. Robots must not harm themselves as long as this doesn’t violate Laws 1 and 2.

In I, Robot,


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Pebble In The Sky: Asimov’s first novel

Pebble In The Sky by Isaac Asimov

In a now-famous interview, sci-fi legend Isaac Asimov once revealed how he avoided getting stuck with writer’s block. The hugely prodigious author would often be working at four or five books at the same time, with five typewriters arrayed side by side, and when he would get inextricably bogged down with one book, he’d simply move to the neighboring typewriter, and recommence work on that one! Thus, one can almost understand how it was possible for Asimov — who claimed, in his later years,


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The Stars, Like Dust: Asimov’s least favorite of all his novels still offers much

The Stars, Like Dust by Isaac Asimov

Isaac Asimov’s very first novel, Pebble in the Sky (1950), was the opening salvo in what would later be known as his GALACTIC EMPIRE trilogy, and was set some 50,000 years in Earth’s future.

It may surprise some potential readers to learn, then, that book 2 in the series, The Stars, Like Dust (the use of a comma after the word “Stars” is not present anywhere in my 1963 Lancer paperback,


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The Currents of Space: “It’s a rather complicated story”

The Currents of Space by Isaac Asimov

The Currents of Space, the third entry in Isaac Asimov’s loosely linked GALACTIC EMPIRE trilogy, is a prequel of sorts to book 1, 1950’s Pebble in the Sky, and a sequel of sorts to book 2, 1951’s The Stars, Like Dust, and if you by any chance find that statement a tad confusing, trust me, that is the very least of the complexities that this book dishes out!


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Foundation: Psychohistory is a brilliant sci-fi concept

Foundation by Isaac Asimov

Hari Seldon is remembered for combining principles from psychology and history into “psychohistory,” a discipline that projects humanity’s course for thousands of years into the future. Psychohistory cannot very accurately predict the actions of individuals, but large groups are less random in their behavior. Unfortunately, Seldon’s calculations predict that the Galactic Empire will soon fall—and its dissolution will give way to thousands of years of barbarism.

Seldon is not cynical: he turns his attention to manipulating a course of events that will condense the coming Dark Ages and give rise to a reborn empire.


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Foundation and Empire: One of Asimov’s better books

Foundation and Empire by Isaac Asimov

This is the second book in Isaac Asimov’s original FOUNDATION trilogy, which later became the FOUNDATION series. It first came out in book form in 1952, but it originally saw print in the form of two novellas, “Dead Hand” (originally published in Astounding Science Fiction, April, 1945) and “The Mule” (originally published in Astounding Science Fiction in November and December, 1945).

Like the first book in the series,


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Second Foundation: The poorest book in the trilogy

Second Foundation by Isaac Asimov

Without a doubt, Isaac Asimov’s Foundation and Foundation and Empire left a mark on the genre. They’ve been read by generations of SF-fans and seven decades after the first Foundation story appeared in in Astounding magazine, the novels are still in print. They may have been the pinnacle of Golden Age SF, but I can’t say I thought them great literature. The FOUNDATION novels are big on ideas, but Asimov’s style is dreadfully direct and the previous books were in dire need of a good round of editing. 


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The Caves of Steel: An SF mystery story

The Caves of Steel by Isaac Asimov

In 1966, Isaac Asimov’s first three FOUNDATION novels won a one-time Hugo Award as the “Best All Time Series” for science fiction. While I still think the award was a reasonable (albeit highly subjective) one for the time, I’m becoming more and more convinced that Asimov’s three “Robot/Mystery” novels starring Earthly detective Elijah Bailey and his partner R. Daneel Olivaw (the “R.” stands for Robot, naturally) are better books, and quite possibly would have been a better choice for the award.


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The Naked Sun: Entertaining murder mystery

The Naked Sun by Isaac Asimov

The Naked Sun is the second of Isaac Asimov’s books about police detective Elijah Baley and the humanoid robot R. Daneel Olivaw. Asimov wrote the first book, Caves of Steel (reviewed by Steven), as the answer to John W. Campbell’s challenge to create a science fiction murder mystery. Asimov succeeded, of course, and chose to give us another installment. You don’t absolutely need to read Caves of Steel before reading The Naked Sun,


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The Robots of Dawn: Connects Asimov’s ROBOT and FOUNDATION books

The Robots of Dawn by Isaac Asimov

The Robots of Dawn is the third book in Isaac Asimov’s trilogy about investigator Elijah Bailey and his robot sidekick R Daneel Olivaw. In the first book, The Caves of Steel, the pair met and solved a murder mystery on Earth. In this far-future Earth, a fearful populace lives in domed cities and never ventures outside. In the second book, The Naked Sun, Elijah faces his fears and actually leaves Earth to solve a murder that occurred on a planet that has such low population density that the inhabitants have evolved a disgust for their fellow humans.


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The End of Eternity: A retro time-traveling tale

The End of Eternity by Isaac Asimov

Re-reading a favorite book from your teenage years is always a risky endeavor. I’ve been dismayed by how often my youthful memories are tarnished by a re-read, and I end up wondering if my taste as a young adult was all in my mouth.

But I couldn’t resist trying The End of Eternity (1955) by Isaac Asimov again, partly because I remembered liking it so well as a teenager, but my memories of it were so extremely hazy (for the longest time,


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Nine Tomorrows: You’ll wish there were twenty tomorrows!

Nine Tomorrows: Tales of the Near Future by Isaac Asimov

Isaac Asimov may very well be the most prolific author in modern history. With over 500 books to his credit (506, to be exact… go to asimovonline.com for the full list, if you don’t believe me!), covering just about every subject in the Dewey Decimal System (except philosophy, I believe), the man was a real marvel. One of these 500 volumes, Nine Tomorrows, is a collection of short stories that Doc Ike first had published in various magazines during the period July 1956 to November 1958.


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Fantastic Voyage: People inside a submarine inside a person

Fantastic Voyage by Isaac Asimov

Jan Benes, a brilliant scientist from the Other Side, has knowledge that can deliver America a military advantage. Benes has decided to defect, but when the Americans smuggle Benes into the country, They shoot him. Though Benes survives, an inoperable blood clot threatens to end his life. But wait! There may be a new technology that could allow surgeons to remove the blood clot from inside Benes’ body.

Miniaturization is that secret new technology. Controlled by the Combined Miniature Defense Force (CMDF), miniaturization will allow “four men and one woman” in a submarine armed with surgical lasers to enter Benes’ blood stream.


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The Gods Themselves: Asimov’s favorite of his SF novels

The Gods Themselves by Isaac Asimov

“Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain.”

Isaac Asimov’s The Gods Themselves earned the Hugo Award for Best Science Fiction Novel, the Nebula Award for Best Science Fiction Novel, and the Locus Award for Best Science Fiction Novel. About 15 years ago it was put on the Locus list of All Time Best Science Fiction Novels.

If you’re anything like me, that’s enough to put The Gods Themselves on your To Be Read List and,


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The Winds of Change… and Other Stories: Another fine collection

The Winds of Change… and Other Stories by Isaac Asimov

The Winds of Change… and Other Stories is a 1983 collection of Isaac Asimov’s latter-day short pieces; just one of the 506 books he came out with during the course of his incredibly prolific career. The 21 stories in this collection were, with two exceptions, written between 1976 and 1982, and all display the clarity of thought, wit and erudition that are the hallmarks of all of Doc Ike’s work. Four of the stories in this collection — “About Nothing,”


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Robot Dreams: 21 stories by Asimov

Robot Dreams by Isaac Asimov

Every time I see a short story collection by Isaac Asimov in audio format, I pick it up because I love his short stories more than I love his novels. Last year Recorded Books released Robot Dreams, which was originally published in print form in 1986. The audiobook is 14.5 hours long and narrated by the wonderful George Guidall.

Robot Dreams contains these 21 excellent stories. All but the titular story were originally published in periodicals (noted here):

  • “Little Lost Robot” — (originally published in Astounding Science Fiction,

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Foundation: First two episodes: Stunningly Gorgeous

Foundation created by David S. Goyer & Josh Friedman

What you need to know first about Apple TV’s Foundation is that it is stunningly gorgeous to look at. Seriously. Gorgeous. Do not watch it on your phone. Do not, if you can avoid it, watch it on your laptop. This deserves, no, it cries out for, as large a TV with as good a screen as you can see it on. Honestly, if Apple released it to a theater I’d happily watch it there.


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Foundation: Season One: A mixed bag, but generally good

Foundation: Season One on Apple TV+

In my first review of Apple TV’s Foundation series, written after the first two shows, I said it wasn’t “great” TV (at least not yet) but ranged consistently between good and very good. Having just finished all ten episodes of season one, I’d broaden that range from “occasionally annoying to occasionally great.” In other words, it’s a mixed bag, which I suppose shouldn’t be much of a surprise for a series that mostly follows three plot strands, has multi-decade time jumps, and is itself based on a series of loosely connected short stories that were later retconned into a larger universal narrative.


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SHORTS: Heller, Moore, Hamilton, Bradbury, Asimov

SHORTS: In this week’s column we review several of the Hugo-nominated short fiction works, including four of the Retro Hugo nominees.

“When We Were Starless” by Simone Heller (2018, free at Clarkesworld, $3.99 Kindle magazine issue). 2018 Hugo award nominee (novelette).

In a fallen, future version of our Earth, Mink’s tribe of nomadic, intelligent lizards wanders the land, living at a bare subsistence level and frequently threatened by physical dangers, like giant verminous creatures called rustbreed. One of the tribe’s treasures is their weavers,


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SHORTS: The Retro Hugo-nominated novelettes and short stories of 1944

SHORTS: Our column exploring free and inexpensive short fiction available on the internet. In today’s column we review the 2020 Retro Hugo nominees in the novelette and short story categories, following up on yesterday’s column, in which we reviewed the novellas.

RETRO HUGO NOVELETTES:

Arena by Fredric Brown (1944, published in Astounding Science Fiction, free online at Internet Archive). 2020 Retro Hugo award nominee (novelette).

Two massive fleets hang outside the orbit of Pluto, about to engage in a furious battle to the death: Humans and the aliens they call the Outsiders.


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The Penguin Science Fiction Omnibus: An all-star lineup

The Penguin Science Fiction Omnibus edited by Brian W. Aldiss

The Penguin Science Fiction Omnibus (1973) is a compilation of three short story anthologies: Penguin Science Fiction (1961), More Penguin Science Fiction (1963), and Yet More Penguin Science Fiction (1964), all edited by Brian Aldiss. Presenting an all-star lineup of established Silver Age and burgeoning New Age writers, most all are well known names in the field, including Isaac Asimov


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Weird Tales: 32 Unearthed Terrors

Weird Tales: 32 Unearthed Terrors edited by Stefan R. Dziemianowicz, Robert Weinberg & Martin Greenberg

Though hardly a runaway success in its day, and a publication that faced financial hardships for much of its existence, the pulp magazine known as Weird Tales is today remembered by fans and collectors alike as one of the most influential and prestigious. Anthologies without number have used stories from its pages, and the roster of authors who got their start therein reads like a “Who’s Who” of 20th century horror and fantasy literature.


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Science Fiction Super Pack #1: A generally above-average anthology

Science Fiction Super Pack #1 edited by Warren Lapine

Like the companion fantasy volume, Science Fiction Super Pack #1, edited by Warren Lapine, only has one story I didn’t think was good, and it’s a piece of Lovecraft fanfiction. H.P. Lovecraft‘s overwrought prose doesn’t do much for me even when Lovecraft himself writes it, and much less so when it’s attempted by imitators. And Lovecraft’s stories at least have something frightening that happens in them; these two stories (in this volume and the other) only have visions of aspects of the Mythos and crazy people ranting,


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Next SFF Author: Alice & Claude Askew
Previous SFF Author: Sharon Ashwood

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