Thursday, February 11, 2016
REVIEW: Pebble in the Sky
Author: Isaac Asimov
Publisher: Tor Books
Joseph Schwartz, retired tailor, is walking in Chicago in 1949. Suddenly, mid-stride, he finds himself thousands of years in the future. The Universe is much different. Earth, and its inhabitants, are despised. The Galactic Empire views Earth as a radioactive wasteland, populated with a sub-species of human. The Empire wants to stop any belief that the human race began on Earth, and they want Earthlings controlled and limited to their own planet. Some Earthlings, however, are plotting to take their revenge for years of discrimination and abuse at the hands of the Empire, with a plan that could potentially wipe out most of humanity across the universe. Can an Archeologist from Sirius, an Earthling scientist and his daughter, and a man from 1949 foil the plot before it's too late?
I enjoyed this story immensely! This was Asimov's first published book. He wrote it in 1947 for publication in a magazine. When that fell through, he added to the story and it was published as a book in 1950. It was easy to pinpoint this story as coming from that post World War II era because Asimov's story discusses nuclear weapons, radioactivity and its effect on the planet and humanity. Through his writing, Asimov was questioning the use of nuclear weaponry, not only because of the devastation and loss of life, but because its full, lasting effect on the environment was not fully known.
The story is more than just a diatribe about nuclear ethics. It is a statement about human nature. Even when human kind has evolved fundamentally and spread throughout the universe, humanity is still held back by its basic nature -- racism, violence, and greed.
I found this story a bit more simplistic than other Asimov works that I have read. This being his first book, I think his writing gained complexity through the years.
Pebble in the Sky is actually book #3 of the Galactic Empire Series. Asimov wrote it first, but later wrote two other books giving more of the history and background of the Empire. I definitely want to read the other two books now!
My Rating: 9/10