Showing posts with label Isaac Asimov. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Isaac Asimov. Show all posts

Saturday, August 6, 2016

The Caves of Steel by Isaac Asimov

Rating: WARTY!

This was an awful novel, badly written and in the audiobook format, badly read. I've been forced to conclude that not only is Isaac Asimov irrelevant, he is antique and I need read nothing further by him. His prose is pedantic and far too absorbed with irrelevant details, and his characters were anachronistic even for Asimov's own time. I don't believe any ever exclaimed "Jehoshaphat" not even when Asimov was alive. It's tedious.

On that score, it seems like everyone but the robots in his world are named after Biblical characters (the leading non-robotic character is Elijah, and his son is Benjamin, for goodness sakes! Why this novel written by an atheist, and set in the future is so obsessed with an antique work of poor history and copious fiction would make for a more interesting book. Supposedly set a thousand years from now, the novel evinces nothing significantly different from Asimov's own time despite the passage of a millennium. People still smoke pipes for goodness sakes! There is nothing inventive here, and the robot is more tedious and brain-dead than Commander Data in the Star Trek Universe. I expected better. Now I know better.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine by Various Authors

Title: Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine
Author: Various (see Below)
Publisher: Penny Publications
Rating: WORTHY!

This is the first edition of this magazine (to which I don't subscribe). The first edition was published by Davis, but it's now owned by the publisher listed above. This particular edition has several short stories, and description of the "New" Smithsonian museum! The individual stories are reviewed very briefly below.

Good-bye, Robinson Crusoe by John Varley
This is a 29-page coming-of-age (for the second time) story of an alien who starts out spending time in an ocean, living on a largely deserted island, enjoying his gills, fearing the shark which lives out there by the reef, but who eventually realizes he isn't a child and it's time to leave those childish things behind and get back into life where he belongs.

Think! by Isaac Asimov
Thus is a story about the dawn of artificial intelligence - or rather the dawn of a realization by humans that artificial intelligence isn't so artificial after all!

Quarantine by Arthur C Clarke
This is a weird two-page story about a disastrous discovery which could spell the end of the universe: chess!

The Homesick Chicken by Edward D Hoch
This one is hilarious. It takes the joke question: "Why did the chicken cross the road" and make a really funny and interesting short story out of it. Brilliant!

Perchance to Dream by Sally A Sellers
In what is, in some ways, almost an homage to Poe's The Tell-Tale Heart, the power of alien regeneration technology in what otherwise appear to be ordinary humans is the subject of this novel. When life is gone the heart lingers on in the body of another - as though it's the heart itself which is the individual, and none of the rest of the body.

Air Raid by Herb Boehm, aka John Varley
This is the short story which gave rise to the movie Millennium and was the sole reason why I got my hands on this volume! This story is brilliant and discusses people of the future - on a rotting, dying Earth polluted beyond redemption, sneaking back into the past to steal good bodies - but not just anybody, only live bodies which were due to die in airplane crashes, and which are replaced by fabricated bodies, so the live humans won't be missed.

Kindertotenlieder (dead songs of childhood) by Jonathan Fast
I don't know if this is a rip-off of another short story I once read or of that was a rip-off of this one. The other story (the title of which escapes me, I'm afraid) was about this exclusive restaurant where on rare and unpredictable occasions, the chef would serve a really fine meat, exquisitely prepared with special ingredients in the very secret kitchen. Tours of the kitchen were, coincidentally, also held on rare and unpredictable occasions....

Period of Totality by Fred Saberhagen
This was a really boring story about which I remember nothing other than astronauts trotting around on a planet waiting for an eclipse. Or maybe it was an eclair. An eclair de lune....

The Scorch on Wetzel's Hill by Sherwood Springer
This wasn't a terribly bad story, but it wasn't really very engaging, original, or entertaining, either.

Coming of Age in Henson's Tube by William Jon Watkins
This is a YA story of young kids using the peculiar gravity of the space tube in which they live to go base jumping, with all the attendant risks if you chose the wrong gravitational spot to leap into.

Time Storm by Gordon R Dickson
This is a longer (~34 pages) and fortunately interesting story about a guy who is trying to find his way through a North America racked by time storms, which cause faults in the air and which can be deadly if they sweep over you. He has a girl and a leopard in his van with him, and he has to contend with the weird and the dangerous - and that's just the people he meets....

I recommend this edition of this sci-fi magazine.