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Pebble in the Sky Paperback – April 27, 2010

106 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“One of the world’s premier science fiction writers.”

“Isaac Asimov is the greatest explainer of the age.”
--Carl Sagan

“For fifty years it was Isaac Asimov’s tone of address that all the other voices of SF obeyed…. For five decades his was the voice to which SF came down in the end. His was the default voice of SF.”
--The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction

About the Author

Born in Russia, Isaac Asimov lived in Boston and in New York City for most of his life. He died in 1992 at the age of seventy-two.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Orb Books; 1 Reprint edition (April 27, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765319136
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765319135
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.7 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (106 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #67,097 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

61 of 62 people found the following review helpful By "mhardingrules" on August 23, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Pebble In The Sky is probably the reigning titleholder of "Undiscovered Classic" in Isaac Asimov's impressive lexicon. It may take a little searching to locate this book, but believe me, it's well worth it.
Dr. Asimov constructed a huge universe that traces humanity from the near future (the Robot stories) to its first creaking footsteps into the unknown (the Robot novels), to the founding of a Galactic Empire (the Empire novels), and finally to the ultimate destination of mankind (the Foundation novels), although this was not his original intention - the Robot universe and Empire/Foundation universe were knotted together by later books. Anyway, of these four categories, the Empire novels are easiest the weakest. This is partly because it is very early Asimov (but Foundation and I, Robot, both classics, are equally early), and partly because the idea behind it all maybe isn't as inspired as the others.
However, Pebble in the Sky is a true work of literary genius. It is set on Earth in the year 827 of the Galactic Era. A man called Joseph Schwarz is found by a farming family, who find that he cannot communicate. They take him to a doctor at the city of Chica, Dr. Shekt, who uses his new Synapsifier to increase intelligence. Soon, they discover that Schwarz is in fact from the year 1949 AD, an era thousands of years back. Schwarz is equally amazed to find himself thousands of years in the future. And what a future he finds waiting for him...
I will not give any further information because it may well spoil the plot for you. It is a well-written enjoyable book. It showcases Dr. Asimov's incredible ability to render cultures, as his portrayal of Earth is one of the most haunting things I have ever seen.
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26 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Doc VINE VOICE on June 3, 2001
Format: Hardcover
In this novel, a great deal depends upon a science fiction element not used very often by Asimov: time travel. A strange accident transports an innocent middle-aged man thousands of years into Earth's future from his native mid-twentieth century. Earth is much-changed in this future, as a poisoned backwater world of no importance in the Galactic Empire. The citizens of this Empire not even aware that Earth was the original home of humanity, despite that very assertion by Earth's inhabitants.
An archaeologist seeks to end this dispute by visiting Earth to find proof one way or another about Earth's place in humankind's past. And he happens to be visiting shortly after the arrival of our hapless 20th century American. But things are not to be that easy.
This novel details the efforts of the archaeologist to solve the mystery, the travails of an unintentional time traveler adjusting to his fate, and the others they encounter. Asimov also uses a plot element to be found in both the Robot Novels and the Foundation Novels: Psionics, obviously a favorite concept of his.
The storyline becomes entangled with the politicians of Earth and their feelings toward the Empire as a whole, especially their rancor at being despised by the Empire. Unlike the previous two Empire Novels, this story does not read as a mystery. Rather this novel is more an adventure in the future, with some romantic elements thrown in.
Among the three Empire Novels, this is my favorite. The story may start a bit slow, but once it picks up it does not slow down until the conclusion, where Asimov pretty much sums it up as one might see coming. There was not really anything difficult to anticipate, but the concepts are wonderfully applied. I recommend this book even if you have not read any of the other Empire Novels, as you will really not miss out on anything.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Tom on September 8, 2004
Format: Paperback
This story of a twentieth century man thrust into the far future was one of the few S.F. novels of Asimov that I had not read. I picked it up at a garage sale and I was not disappointed. This was a very enjoyable story of time travel and political intrigue.

Tailor Joseph Schwartz gets accidentally transported from modern day (1949) to the far-flung future of the Galactic Empire. (I am always a sucker for a time travel story.) What transpires is a classic Asimov story line. Schwartz is "volunteered" for a science experiment in which he inadvertently acquires the ability to read minds and influence them. This type of "happy accident" is evident in other Asimovian stories. In Robots of Dawn R. Giskard is given similar abilities by a child playfully rearranging his programming. In Foundation and Empire the Mule is a mutant born with such abilities. While this is all OK, I wonder why he used it so much.

Even though I liked the book, the ending came too quickly, which seems to be Asimovian as well.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Garrett J. Menning on January 19, 2004
Format: Paperback
Pebble in the Sky is the last of Asimov's Galactic Empire trilogy, which precedes events described in the masterful Foundation Trilogy. Pebble adds further detail about the Empire of Trantor and the place of Earth within it, thousands of years in our future. Humanity is spread across the Galaxy, inhabiting a hundred million star systems and numbering in the quadrillions. Yet atomic warfare has reduced Earth to a radioactive backwater, despised by the other imperial citizens.
This is the world where Joseph Schwartz, a complacent and mild-mannered tailor, finds himself after being catapulted forward in time as a result of an accident in a nuclear lab in mid-20th century Chicago. He soon meets two brilliant scientists: Dr. Bel Arvardan, who is intent on proving that Earth is humanity's birthplace, and Dr. Affret Shekt, physicist and inventor of the Synapsifier, which can boost intelligence in astonishing ways. They team up to foil a plot that could destroy nearly every human alive in the Galaxy.
The book is not without weaknesses. The future science that drives the plot is often a bit dodgy and far-fetched. Schwartz is propelled into the future as a result of an experiment with crude uranium gone freakishly awry, but how exactly this happens is never explained. Nor does Asimov convincingly describe how the biological WMD at the heart of the plot could actually spread across the Galaxy so quickly without the many technologically-advanced worlds of the Empire discovering a way to stop it. Then there is some of the dialog. Even though most of the book takes place so far in the future that humans have evolved miniature appendices and no longer grow facial hair or wisdom teeth, the characters sometimes lapse into dialog reminiscent of American slang straight out of a bad 1950s detective novel. Dr.
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