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review 2018-06-16 17:12
C/Fe: "The Caves of Steel" by Isaac Asimov
The Caves of Steel - Isaac Asimov


"There were infinite lights, the luminous walls and ceilings that seemed to drip cool, even phosphorescence; the flashing advertisements screaming for attention; the harsh, steady gleam of the 'lightworms' that directed:
THIS WAY TO JERSEY SECTIONS, FOLLOW ARROWS TO EAST RIVER SHUTTLE, UPPER LEVEL FOR ALL WAYS TI LONG ISLAND SECTIONS.
Most of all, there was the noise that was inseparable from life. The sound of millions talking, laughing, coughing, calling, humming, breathing."

In "The Caves of Steel" by Isaac Asimov

Set 2,000 years in the future, "The Caves of Steel" shows us contrasting pictures of Earth and the Outer Worlds - colonized planets throughout the Galaxy. Although the inhabitants of the Outer Worlds trace their origins to Earth, they are separated from it by much more than mere distance, now calling themselves Spacers and ruling the decaying mother planet as benevolent despots. In his earlier novels, Asimov mastered the translation of speech into its written equivalent; but to recreate the speech of a human being is a problem every novelist faces. 

 

 

If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.


If you're into Vintage SF, read on.

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review 2018-03-30 01:13
Second Foundation (Foundation #3)
Second Foundation - Isaac Asimov

The completion of the original Foundation trilogy sees the masterplan of Hari Sheldon righted by his secret safety valve.  Second Foundation by Isaac Asimov sees first the Mule and then the First Foundation itself looking for Sheldon’s second institution because they felt it was a threat, while the Second Foundation attempts to keep the plan going forward.

 

The book is divided between two novellas, the first and shortest concerns the Mule’s search for the Second Foundation so he can destroy it and rule the Galaxy.  He sends two men, one “Converted” and one “Unconverted”, to find his enemies and then follows them to the knowledge of both.  Yet the Second Foundation had planned a trap for the Mule, who had deduced that his “unconverted” man was a spy which was planned.  The Second Foundation psychologically changes the Mule’s mind from conquest into plan rule so he can die naturally.  The second story takes up two-thirds of the book and set 55 years after the first with the First Foundation in knowledge of the Second, which endangers Sheldon’s plan.  A group of anti-Second Foundation group meets on Terminus with a young lady eavesdropping to figure out how do destroy their rivals, through the actions of this young lady their conspiracy advances and a war between the Foundation and Kalgan is ignited by happenstance.  The young lady is helped to Trantor and later sends a message to her father, who is able to apparently destroy the Second Foundation on Terminus and Kalgan.  Only for the leader of the Second Foundation to explain to an apprentice the plan for them to disappear from knowledge so they can keep Sheldon’s plan safe.

 

Unlike the previous book in the trilogy, this book was written comparably well including both plot and characters.  With a telepathic element in both stories, this helped the overall narrative and its myriad of “plots within and upon plots” in both.  The point-of-view characters while not the roundest of characters were still better than most in Foundation and Empire, though the second novella “Search by the Foundation” is as long as “The Mule” in the aforementioned previous installment Asimov’s writing was noticeably better in handling the length.  Though there was a little tediousness to the second novella, it was mild compared to the previous book and frankly the story moved quickly.

 

Reading Second Foundation reminded me of reading Foundation and why this trilogy is considered a classic of science fiction.  Though Isaac Asimov isn’t a perfect writer, his ideas are engaging and this series shows that perfectly especially in this final book of the trilogy.

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review 2018-02-28 03:19
Foundation and Empire (Foundation #2)
Foundation And Empire - Isaac Asimov

The Foundation created by Hari Seldon has come through three crises and several social changes, but now it must face off against forces of Empire.  Foundation and Empire, the second book of Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series, follows how the Foundation and its citizen responded to threats from Empire—one it’s decaying predecessor and one from a budding conqueror.

 

Unlike like Foundation with its several short stories, Asimov’s second book featured two novellas entitled “The General” and “The Mule”.  The first followed the Imperial war against the Foundation led by the titular general Bel Riose who looked to restore the rule of the Empire, but was stopped short by the Emperor who believed him to be using the war to build up himself as a usurper.  The fallout of the war leads the Foundation citizenry to believe during its war with the warlord “The Mule” that eventually something will happen for the Foundation to win.  But the Foundation falls to the Mule’s forces as its leadership learns that its next crisis was to be civil war.  A small ship filled with Foundation survivors makes its way towards the old Imperial capital to find a way to stop the Mule and find that the Second Foundation might be the key.

 

Although some might believe the two novellas a better format than the several short stories of the first book, I am of a different opinion.  The longer length of the stories unfortunately exposed Asimov’s characters as very flat and his writing somewhat formulaic, especially when it came to the identity of “The Mule”.  Yet I have to admit that of the two stories, “The General” was the best because it only took up a third of the book thus protecting the characters from being over exposed.  “The Mule” became tedious as the reveal of titular character took its sweet time, even as Asimov attempted to show the decay of the Galactic civilization.

 

While Foundation and Empire was not as good as the first book of the trilogy, there are still some nice passages and ideas that Asimov has written.  Though I was intrigued to find out more about the Second Foundation after finishing the book, it was a long slog to get to that point.

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review 2018-02-12 13:11
Nightfall by Isaac Asimov & Robert Silverberg
Nightfall - Isaac Asimov,Robert Silverberg

From the blurb:

"Imagine living on a planet with six suns that never experiences Darkness. Imagine never having seen the Stars. Then, one by one your suns start to set, gradually leading you into Darkness for the first time ever. Image the terror of such a Nightfall.

Scientists on the planet Kalgash discover that an eclipse - an event that occurs only every 2049 years - is imminent, and that a society unfamiliar with Darkness will be plunged into madness and chaos. They realize that their civilization will end, for the people of Kalgash have a proven fear of Darkness, but they are unable to predict the insanity and destruction that will accompany the awesome splendor of Nightfall."

Originally published in 1970, this book has a pulp feel to it.  This story explores the events before, during and after a total eclipse and resulting complete darkness on a planet with six suns and perpetual light.  The doomsday/apocalypse concept is interesting but the execution falls a bit flat - the characters are a bit two dimensional and some events and their timing are just too convenient.  However, the book is still enjoyable and would make a nice addition to the shelf of an apocalypse fan.

 

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review 2018-01-30 00:03
Foundation (Foundation #1)
Foundation (Book 1) - Isaac Asimov

An Empire has begun to decline and one man had produced a plan to shorten the resulting Dark Age and found a Second Empire.  Isaac Asimov based his “Hugo Best All-Time Series” on this premise, one man setting up a Foundation for the future of mankind but not telling his successors about how to bring the plan to fruition.

 

Foundation is not one story, but several connected together because of the grand plan by Hari Seldon who mathematically deduced the decline of the Galactic Empire and its future fall then came up with a plan to reduce the resulting Dark Age to only a 1000 years.  Three of the five stories featured the two standout characters of the volume:  Salvor Hardin, the point-of-view character in “The Encyclopedists” and “The Mayors”, and Hober Mallow, the point-of-view character of “The Merchant Princes”.  It is through these two characters the reader gets an understanding of the political and social situations going on as the Empire declines and the Seldon’s Foundation politically evolve to meet the conditions known as Seldon Crisis.

 

Although Foundation is an interconnected collection of short stories, combined they create a history of a far off future of a declining Empire and an outpost meant to build up a future Second Empire for the betterment of all men.  While some might think space science fiction is all lasers and space battles, Isaac Asimov showed that it could be political, religious, and economic forces on a large scale used by individuals to pave the way for a better future.  It is because of this that many consider this a classic and frankly I can’t disagree.

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