“One of the world’s premier science fiction writers.” --Newsday
“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.
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.Read more ›
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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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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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Forgive me Master, cause I have sinned by giving Pebble In The Sky 2 stars. But, were you still here, I`d gamble that even you, actually especially you, wouldn't consider it a shining gem this side of Trantor.
What bothers me Master is not the science that is dated. Nor the telepath cop out, after all, telepaths were so hot back then.
What bothers me is PITS formulaic writing with a bad guy so laughably bad he actually becomes likable, and the good guy so rewardingly good, that he finally saves the universe and gets the girl (daughter of a good physicist as an added bonus). What bothers me is 200 pages of formulaic writing coupled with no-no plot holes and convenient coincidences.
And had it not been for a few scenes, your chess scene, or your villain coming to amusingly wrong conclusions scene Master, I might have stopped reading altogether.
Master, you have a cult of followers. But, as everyone knows, cults of followers are not necessarily good. All those 5 stars reviews may lead the uninitiated reader (don't forget that a new possible Asimov reader is born every second or two) to be introduced to you with this book, which would be an insult to Hari Seldon, Elijah Baley, Andrew Harlan, Susan Calvin et al. So, forgive me Master, but this is 2 stars, retro Hugo or not.