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Pebble in the Sky Paperback – April 27, 2010
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“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.
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Top Customer Reviews
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 ›
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.
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.
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
It is the first novel by Asimov, but his talent is already evident, even if the plot is still rough on the edges. Read morePublished 18 days ago by Serge Taurus
Great backdrop story for the Foundation series! A must read!Published 2 months ago by John T. Foster
Having read the rest of the Empire Series, the Robot Series, and the Foundation Series I enjoyed this book once I forced myself to get through it. Read morePublished 2 months ago by clj358
I tore through this book so fast; its impossible to put down. Well paced, and full of exciting fake science and plot twists. Read morePublished 2 months ago by andrew bieber
This is the link to the Foundation Universe. The story takes place when a 62 year old tailor living in Chicago in 1949 steps over a Raggedy Ann doll and ends up 20,000 years in to... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Alastair Browne
I believe this book was my introduction to Isaac Asimov, so I must have read it around 1954 -- the same period during which I was discovering Heinlein and Simak and Conklin’s fat... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Michael K. Smith
I have mixed feelings about this book. As Asminov’s first novel, it is a bit rough around the edges. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Philip Machanick