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Pebble in the Sky by Isaac Asimov
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  1. 10
    Foundation by Isaac Asimov (br77rino)
    br77rino: Pebble in the Sky is the first book Asimov wrote regarding the Galactic Empire, a subject he used in his later masterpiece trilogy, Foundation.
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English (38)  French (3)  Norwegian (1)  Slovak (1)  Italian (1)  All languages (44)
Showing 1-5 of 38 (next | show all)
An accident at the Institute for Nuclear Research in Chicago releases a stray beam of radiation across the city, striking an innocent pedestrian by the name of Joseph Schwartz. No sooner does Schwartz step over a discarded rag doll on a busy street than he finds himself wandering for miles through dense woods.

Schwartz eventually stumbles onto a highway that leads him to a remote farmhouse where he seeks help, yet the residents do not understand a word of his frantic pleas. Despite their trepidation that he might be an "outsider," they take him in for the night.

The next day, one of the farmers escorts a frightened and despondent Schwartz into the city of Chica where he is experimented upon using a device called the Synapsifier, which allegedly accelerates the human brain's ability to learn. The machine is the invention of seasoned neurosurgeon, Doctor Affret Shekt who is assisted in his work by his daughter, Pola.

Schwartz quickly escapes from the hospital and slowly begins to develop the ability to read minds. Along the way, he becomes a fluent speaker of the native language and realizes that, somehow, he was hurled far into Earth's future on that disorienting day in Chicago—a future in which the planet is a second-class member of a Galactic Empire!

It isn't long before Schwartz finds himself embroiled with the Shekts and a brash archaeologist named Bel Arvardan from Sirius who visits Earth in an attempt to prove his theory that the planet is the origin of the human race. Together, the four uncover a conspiracy to destroy all life on the other planets in the Empire—but can they convince the authorities before it's too late?

Pebble in the Sky is an engaging read, but it struck me that the protagonist, which one presumes to be Schwartz, becomes lost for several chapters as the other characters, especially Bel Arvardan and Pola Shekt, take prominence. It isn't until his psychic ability fully manifests that Schwartz once again becomes crucial to the plot.

Further, the main villain in the conspiracy against the other planets is not revealed until the final quarter of the story. Before this, the character appears only briefly. Despite these observations, Pebble in the Sky is notable for its tangential place in the Galactic Empire of Asimov's Foundation series. ( )
  pgiunta | Mar 25, 2019 |
I'm being overly mean with a 2.5 star rating, but I was so excited to get to the Foundation series, and so enamored with Asimov's Robots Series that this paled in comparison. Not a bad idea, but we saw a better fish out of water story in Currents of Space, and a better overall story in The Stars, Like Dust. Kind of a weird one, but I did like Schwartz having telepathic powers - a precursor to R. Giskard, perhaps? ( )
  hskey | Jun 9, 2018 |
My copy says it's the first novel of Isaac Asimov. I don't know if that's true but with a 1958 copyright it is certainly one of his earliest. That said it's a fine example of Classic SF.

Asimov is not my favorite writer from the golden age of SF but he always makes the top 10. Like most of his books this one mixes speculative science with interesting characters. He has a pretty good understanding of people and he's a romantic.

I thought this would be a good average 3 stars but I was intrigued to the end so it gets 4. ( )
  ikeman100 | Feb 4, 2018 |
A struggle to finish. Yes, it was his first novel, but I only forced my way through so that I could get to Prelude to Foundation and say that I did actually read all 15 of his Robots/Empire/Foundation novels. ( )
  Razinha | May 23, 2017 |
Science fiction novel from the 50’s, in fact from 1950 and a good one. Reading some science fiction from this era can feel a bit like wading through sexist, racist even misogynist, viewpoints with cheap and nasty gung-ho nationalism thrown in for good measure, but you are relatively safe from all this with Asimov: in fact Pebble in the Sky has some important things to say about racial prejudice.

The story has an unlikely premise to start with: a sixty two year old man (Schwartz) is walking past a building where a scientist is messing around with crude uranium, there is some sort of reaction and Schwartz is transported far into the future. He is still on earth which is now part of the galactic empire, but everyone seems to hate the earthlings and they in their turn hate all outsiders. Revolution is in the air and Schwartz is used as a guinea pig for a new procedure which can increase brain power exponentially. Schwarz survives the synapsifier and Asimov spends a couple of pages explaining how it might work. A leading demagogue is stirring things up and Schwartz and his new friends find themselves locked in a battle to save the Empire.

Asimov’s characters main function is to move the plot along and they do this well enough in this novel. There are themes about who can and can’t be trusted, how a planet and its people can be ostracised to such an extent that they want to bring everything else crashing down, a love story where racial divides have to be crossed, colonialism, subject races and the need for understanding. There is very little world building and Asimov does not go out of his way to create any atmosphere, however the story is a good one and there are moments of tension and some surprise plot twists. Asimov tries to explain some of the science in simple terms and there is a couple of pages devoted to a chess match. An enjoyable science fiction novel from the 1950’s and so 3.5 stars. ( )
1 vote baswood | Feb 14, 2017 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Asimov, Isaacprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Fass, RobertNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Two minutes before he disappeared forever from the face of the Earth he knew, Joseph Schwartz strolled along the pleasant streets of suburban Chicago quoting Browning to himself.
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Not exactly... It had been *something* like a touch, but not anywhere on his body. It was in his mind...
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0765319128, Hardcover)

One moment Joseph Schwartz is a happily retired tailor in Chicago, 1949. The next he's a helpless stranger on Earth during the heyday of the first Galactic Empire.
 
Earth, as he soon learns, is a backwater, just a pebble in the sky, despised by all the other 200 million planets of the Empire because its people dare to claim it's the original home of man. And Earth is poor, with great areas of radioactivity ruining much of its soil--so poor that everyone is sentenced to death at the age of sixty.
 
Joseph Schwartz is sixty-two.
 
This is young Isaac Asimov's first novel, full of wonders and ideas, the book that launched the novels of the Galactic Empire, culminating in the Foundation series. This is Golden Age SF at its finest.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:23:33 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

One moment Joseph Schwartz is a happily retired tailor in 1949 Chicago. The next he?s a helpless stranger on Earth during the heyday of the first Galactic Empire. Earth, he soon learns, is a backwater, just a pebble in the sky, despised by all the other 200 million planets of the Empire because its people dare to claim it?s the original home of man. And Earth is poor, with great areas of radioactivity ruining much of its soil?so poor that everyone is sentenced to death at the age of sixty. Joseph Schwartz is sixty-two. This is young Isaac Asimov?s first novel, full of wonders and ideas, the book that launched the novels of the Galactic Empire, culminating in the Foundation books and novels. It is also one of that select group of SF adventures that since the early 1950s has hooked generations of teenagers on reading science fiction. This is Golden Age SF at its finest.… (more)

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