Gold, The Final Science Fiction Collection – Isaac Asimov

Book Cover

In 1992, the year of his death, Isaac Asimov was awarded the Hugo Award for best novella for writing Gold. This story, along with many others was published in 1995. Along with 14 other short stories, there are collections of essays called “On Science Fiction,” and “Writing Science Fiction.” Interestingly enough, I found the essays much more interesting than the stories themselves. I think this is partly because I have read a TON of his fiction, but haven’t got around to reading his non-fiction.  I’ll give a brief overview of the essays, saving the stories for later.

On Science Fiction

Here, Asimov gives us a brief history of the roots of Science Fiction. He also describes the origins of the robot concept, tracing the roots back to the eighteenth book of Homer’s Iliad. Also, he goes over very early books like Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein and H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine. Asimov also describes the evolution of Science Fiction in media, from the early magazines (of which he was an avid reader), to books, movies, and TV. Some of the names he listed were completely foreign to me. I think at some time in the future, I’ll look up some of his favorite authors of the time and check them out. He also talks about Science Fiction’s effect on technology and gives a couple examples of some technologies that he is attributed to predicting.

Writing Science Fiction

As I was reading the essays, it felt like he was talking to me, and in turn I was getting to know him as a person, not just a writer. His writing style is very smooth and easy to read. I believe it is a testament to his claim that when he writes, he just writes. At several points he congratulates himself on his ability to simply write with very little revision, essentially just correcting grammar and word placement once everything is done. After all, being one of the most prolific writers his time, or any time for that mater, he did have the right to have a strong sense of self-esteem.

One tidbit that I found very interesting is that Asimov had never really made use of outlines when writing stories. He would usually just work out an opening, and an ending, and make everything up along the way. Simply put, his characters would take on a life of their own. Another fact, which I already was aware of, is that he heavily relies on dialogue between characters, and there is very little “action” along the way. His books, at least to me, seem to be more cerebral than many others I have read.

The Stories

The title story, Gold, is an interesting one, especially around these times of economic turmoil. Gold, today in the real world, is topping $1000(US) an ounce while digital money has lost much of its value. A relatively unknown author seeks the help of a world famous director to produce a compu-drama from his book. These compu-dramas were basically movies heavily reliant on technology, interestingly enough much as our current movies are evolving into. I won’t spoil the plot, but the book in the story is very reminiscent of The Gods Themselves. The author admits that he is just an average writer, but wants to be immortalized by having his book made into a compu-drama. The director, on the other hand, is already one of the most famous figures in the entertainment industry. The author has everything to gain, while the director has everything to lose. Why then, should the director take the risk of taking on this new project? Gold was the offer, nearly impossible to find, having an equivalent value in credits, but with the sense of tangibility, not just a number on a computer screen.

Gold was a very interesting story, well worth anyone’s time to check out. As for the other stories, there is a diverse mix of plots present. They include science experiments, space exploration, artificial intelligence, and time travel to name a few. Of these remaining stories, my favorites include Cal (which I’ve read previously), Alexander the God, and Kid Brother.

I highly recommend this book as a must have for any Isaac Asimov fan, or Science Fiction fan for that matter. Also, the final section can serve as a general starting point for those interested in writing.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Please prove you are a human * Time limit is exhausted. Please reload the CAPTCHA.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Related Post

Isaac Asimov’s Robot City Book 5: Refuge by Rob ChilsonIsaac Asimov’s Robot City Book 5: Refuge by Rob Chilson

Robot City 5: Refuge book cover

This review will most likely contain spoilers for any previous books in the series, read at your own risk.

After a close call with Dr. Avery, the crazed mastermind of Robot City, finally returned to check on its progress. He captured Derec and Ariel, but eventually they escaped with the help of Mandelbrot and Wolruf. Derec, Ariel, Mandelbrot, and Wolruf escape by stealing Dr. Avery’s ship. Unfortunately the ship had no star charts in the computer, so they were unable to jump to safety. Ariel’s health had been deteriorating considerably, and eventually Mandelbrot demanded that something must be done. Derec and Ariel use a Key to Perihelion that was found in the ship in hopes it takes them to a place that might have a cure for her disease and possibly Derec’s amnesia.

This book mainly covers Derec and Ariel’s adventures on Earth, the destination the Key takes them to. They search out for a cure for Ariel and what possible interest Dr. Avery might have in Earth. We see here the claustrophobia Derec and Arial experience. This is a fitting contrast to Lije Baley’s agoraphobia which Asimov described in The Naked Sun and The Robots of Dawn.

Asimov’s Chimera by Mark W. TidemannAsimov’s Chimera by Mark W. Tidemann

Chimera book cover

Chimera opens up with a flashback to twenty-five years ago to the scene kidnapping of twenty babies from a hospice center. Back at present day, Coren Lanra, security chief for Rega Looms at DyNan Corporation, is working on tracking the actions of Rega’s daughter Nyom. Unfortunately, Nyom ends up dead along with all those she was attempting to help smuggle to the settler colony Nova Levis. The only possible clue lies in the brain of a robot that locked up while trying to save the passengers. Surprisingly, Ariel and Derec are encouraged to help Coren in his investigation by Ambassador Setaris Coren is forced to follow his own leads while Derec attempts to recover the failed robot’s memories. The following investigation eventually reveals the link to the kidnappings, with danger at almost every turn. (more…)

Foundation and Earth by Isaac AsimovFoundation and Earth by Isaac Asimov

Foundation and Earth Book Cover

This is the final novel in the Foundation Universe chronologically speaking. There are a couple short stories completed by other authors, but Foundation and Earth describes (in 494 pages) where Asimov saw his epic saga moving toward. It is a shame that he couldn’t have lived longer to continue on writing. For those that don’t know, Isaac Asimov contracted HIV from a blood transfusion during a heart operation in 1983. It later developed into AIDS, causing heart and kidney failure which led to his death in 1992. For more information on his life and death, visit Asimov Online. I wish I could remember the source, but I know I read that Asimov was not sure exactly how he would continue the series when a fan suggested he go back and write some prequels. Before his death he did fill in some gaps with the Prelude to Foundation and Forward the Foundation.

Almost no time has passed since Golan Trevize made his decision in favor of Galaxia over a Second Galactic Empire controlled by either the First or Second Foundation. Trevize is still on Gaia along with Janov Pelorat and Bliss. Golan intends to find Earth so that he can find out why he chose felt that Galaxia was best for not only mankind, but for every living thing in the Galaxy. He will not rest until he finds Earth. Bliss insists on going on his search to act as protection through her role as part of Gaia, and Janov has his own research on Earth that he wishes to complete.

The one thing that Asimov succeeds accomplishing in this novel, as he does with the others books in this series, is creating and describing different cultures. These cultures vary from the extremes of conservatism to tribal utopias. Each new world has its own customs, mythology, and history which is described through the interactions between the protagonists and the natives encountered throughout their complex journey. (more…)