Summary: This book is in fact a collection of twelve science-fiction short stories by one of the greatest names in science fiction, Isaac Asimov. The stories are chronologically arranged by the time they were written, spanning from 1939 to 1972, and their settings reach far into the future. Some take place as far as 1 billion CE! Each plot in the collection is unique, varying significantly from the others. For example, The Fun They Had is a fun-to-read tale about futuristic kids marveling over just how fun school was “back then” (presumably, our now). A completely different story is Marooned Off Vesta, which focuses on three astronauts stranded in space and desperately trying to reach the nearest planet. There’s definitely a wide variety to choose from when you open The Best of Isaac Asimov!
Recommendation: Even though two or three of the stories get incredibly creepy (read Nightfall and you’ll know what I mean), even the finickiest of readers won’t be scared to turn off the lights after reading the rest of this collection. Actually, the label of Science Fiction stretches to fit a wide range of stories, serving up mystery, adventure, horror, and a bit of comedy. Take Nightfall, for instance. It takes place far in the future and includes an element of horror in it, especially when, at the end, Asimov gives you a detailed description of the main character going mad. And then there are a couple of other stories that are real who-dun-it mysteries, just set in the future. In fact, in the book’s introduction, Asimov states that he has been reading mysteries as long as he has been reading science fiction, and admits that he enjoys mysteries more. Maybe leading you through a crime scene, maybe keeping you in suspense when characters are stuck in space or off exploring the universe, you won’t want this book to be over when the twelfth story ends.
Favorite Passage: Afterword to The Dying Night:
Some readers may realize that this story, first published in 1956, has been overtaken by events. In 1965, astronomers discovered that Mercury does not keep one side always to the Sun, but has a period of rotation of about fifty-four days, so that all parts of it are exposed to the sunlight at one time or another.
Well, what can I do except say that I wish astronomers would get things right to begin with?
And I certainly refuse to change the story to suit their whims.