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The Complete Stories Volume I: v. 1 by Isaac…

The Complete Stories Volume I: v. 1 (original 1990; edition 1993)

by Isaac Asimov

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952119,119 (4.18)None
Title:The Complete Stories Volume I: v. 1
Authors:Isaac Asimov
Info:Collins (1993), Hardcover, 624 pages
Collections:Fiction, Science Fiction, Read but unowned

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The Complete Stories, Volume 1 by Isaac Asimov (1990)



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This 600+ page book of short stories is a pretty good collection of Asimov's early 1950s work. Some of the stories are very, very good, such as "Nightfall," which I was delighted to find had been turned into a full novel later, which I recently bought and intend to read. Others are not quite as good. One that irritated me was "I'm in Marsport Without Hilda," where a man comes "home" to a space station after being out in space for a long time and as he'll be heading for the planet and his wife in another day, he contacts a local woman for a one nighter -- even though he's married. Events occur that delay their tryst and she gets impatient with him and I guess the humor lies in his attempts to solve everything so they can get together and hit the sack. Finally, everything has been taken care of and he's ready to go meet the whore, when he hears a woman call his name and turns around to find his wife unexpectedly greeting him -- and he's ticked. To me, this was a very offensive and sexist story. I didn't think it merited inclusion in an anthology of collected works since it was in such poor taste. But then, as I've discovered, Asimov -- if you go by his early work -- was a bit of a sexist himself, as he rarely used female characters and with one exception I can think of, when he did, they were typically window dressing -- poor, helpless, empty headed dullards completely dependent on men to save them from whatever was happening to them. Oh, and as we learn in one story here, woman like to talk. A lot. I guess that's all they do. Pig. I try to give him the benefit of the doubt by saying maybe he was a product of his times. It was the 1950s after all and women's lib hadn't occurred and a woman's place was in the home, so maybe.... And I haven't read enough of his later work to know differently, although I just finished Foundation's Edge today and it had strong female characters, although one was evil. It was written in the 1980s. Maybe he adjusted with the times.

In any event, the stories in the book are largely pretty good, until you get to about the last 100 pages or so and then the quality of the work drops off immensely. I'm not sure why that is, but the last several stories are quite bad. There's a marked difference between them and the earlier pieces. Again, I don't know why the editors decided to do it that way, but that's just the way it happened, so I guess you have to live with it. One thing that was interesting is Asimov's obsession with computers, using one giant computer he calls "Multivac" repeatedly in his stories. Multivac is a computer that pretty much runs the world and everything in it. It is hundreds of miles big and spits out data punch cards, much like the giant 1950s-era computers did, requiring specially trained computer programmers and operators to interpret its results and instructions. He also worries about man versus machine and sides with man virtually every time, which is interesting as he is constantly writing about machines such as robots. I find Multivac interesting because it's proof that Asimov had absolutely no sci fi foresight like other sci fi writers, such as Philip K. Dick, did. He never was really able to guess at desktops, laptops, smart phones, or anything like that. Meanwhile, so many other early sci fi writers were able to envision things such as these that I am continually amazed that Asimov maintains the massive sci fi reputation he enjoys. Personally, I think he was stuck in a 1950s nuclear-era technology rut with absolutely little ability to think ahead creatively like so many of his peers and while the stories in this book are generally pleasantly well written, except for much dialogue, which Asimov always seems to have problems writing, his writing skills don't even begin to measure up to so many other sci fi writers, it's not even funny. Personally, I think he had several decent ideas and could tell a decent story, but then so could hundreds of other writers, so in my opinion, he was just a hack. I can easily name numerous other sci fi writers who are infinitely better than he ever was.

Whatever the case, and no matter how poorly Asimov wrote most of his novels, most of these short stories are quite good and are pretty well written. I assume he must have had a good editor. This book is the highest rated book I have ever seen on Goodreads, with a 4.36 out of 5 score. I certainly don't think it deserves a 5 at all and I'm not even sure it deserves a 4, but I'm going ahead and giving it one just because so much of it was entertaining and after all, isn't that what you want out of a good short story? I'm curious, now, to see how his writing matured in the '60s, so if I see Volume 2 of this series, I'll probably get it. As for this book? Recommended. ( )
  scottcholstad | Nov 23, 2015 |
Dead Past (Far Ends of Time & Earth)
Foundation of SF Success
Franchise (Far Ends of Time & Earth)
Gimmicks Three (Far Ends of Time & Earth)
Kid Stuff (Far Ends of Time & Earth)
Watery Place (Far Ends of Time & Earth)
Living Space
Message (Far Ends of Time &Earth)
Satisfaction Guarenteed (Far ends of Time & Earth)
Hell Fire (Far Ends of Time & Earth)
Last Trump
Fun They Had (Far Ends of Time & Earth)
Jokester (Far Ends... ( )
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  Tutter | Feb 23, 2015 |
From the author that inspired the I-Robot, and the Bicentennial man movie, this is a collection of some of his short works. I particularly liked `Profession', `Franchise', `Satisfaction guaranteed' , `Nightfall', oh heck, I liked each and every one of them! ( )
  IAmAndyPieters | Feb 27, 2013 |
I sometimes joke that Isaac Asimov is my intellectual father: although that's not that far from the truth. His essays, pro-reason and pro-science, had a huge influence upon me growing up. He's probably best known for his science fiction novels, but I think his best fiction by far is to be found in his short stories. This first volume collecting his short stories has several of his best. There are 46 short stories here, one from 1941, five from the 1960s, but the bulk are from the fifties. Some details are dated, certainly, especially in social matters. Asimov considered himself a feminist and he created one of the most brilliant female characters in science fiction in robotologist Susan Calvin. But in these stories that men make all the important decisions, both at work and home, is taken for granted. Central planning--done by computers, of course--is also taken for granted as the wave of the future. But what strikes me nevertheless is how well these stories hold up, and how memorable they are. The stories come from three previous anthologies I had read: Earth is Room Enough, Nine Tomorrows and Nightfall and Other Stories. With many I only had to see the title to remember the story--even though it had been decades. With others it didn't take many pages for them to come back to me. The ideas are clever, the twists unforgettable. Below I name my five favorites:

1) "The Dead Past" - This is my favorite Asimov story, not just of the collection, but of any I've read. It might very well have been the first Asimov, maybe even the first work of science fiction, I ever read, and it's amazing, because it forever shifted my perception of the meaning of time. And more than that, it's psychologically penetrating and emotionally moving in ways Asimov rarely managed.

2) "The Ugly Little Boy" - And this is my second favorite Asimov story of any I've read. Asimov in the 1990 Introduction calls it his "third-favorite story." He noted his "takes tend to be cerebral, but I count on this one to bring about a tear or two." One of his most powerful and moving stories.

3) "The Last Question" - In the Introduction he claims that this "of all the stories I have written, is my absolute favorite." It's certainly a favorite of mine. I'd even bow enough to his judgement to place it third among all his short stories.

4) "Nightfall" - arguably the most famous and popular of all his short stories. As he mentions in the Introduction, it's one the "Science Fiction Writers of America have voted the best science fiction story ever written." It's certainly a contender.

5) "Profession" - One of those I immediately remembered just from the title. Too many times Asimov seems to align with a rather regimented utopia. I loved that this one rather cut against that in terms of the nature of genius.

I have to say that while it was easy to name my top four--they'd be the same four in the same order if you were to ask me to rank all of Asimov's stories, choosing which among the rest to be the fifth was hard. I could think of at least ten contenders that deserve mention just as much. Which says a lot about the strength of this collection, a great introduction to Asimov's fiction. ( )
2 vote LisaMaria_C | Oct 16, 2012 |
Treasure beyond compare. Because of Isaac I have had a long and enduring love of robots, space, and science fiction in general. There are many wonderful authors out there but Isaac stands alone, and I for one are extremely grateful that he was so prolific in his art. My only wish now is that I had the second volume of his works. ( )
  kpolhuis | May 18, 2010 |
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Isaac Asimovprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Shaw, BarclayCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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This is the volume 1 of the Complete Stories. Do not combine with volume 2.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 038541627X, Paperback)

The first book of the definitive three-volume collection of short stories by the prolific Isaac Asimov, whose tales have delighted countless fans for over half a century--a must for every science fiction bookshelf.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:18:08 -0400)

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Collection of 48 science fiction stories by Isaac Asimov.

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