“The Currents of Space is a 1952 novel by the American science fiction author Isaac Asimov. It is the second of three books labelled the Galactic Empire series. Each occurs after humans have settled many worlds in the galaxy after the second wave of colonisation that went beyond the Spacer worlds and before the era of decline that was the setting for the original Foundation series. Each of the three is only loosely connected to other works, being separated by a fairly large gulf of centuries.”
That’s the description from Wikipedia. This book is completely separate from The Stars Like Dust, in that while it might use the same universe the characters are entirely different and there quite a distance between the books in the time line of the series. Really, they’re separate novels entirely.
I found it quite hard to get into this book, and I don’t think it is as well written as The Stars Like Dust. The problem might have been that I found it pretty hard to care about Rik, and the Florina / Sark division was a bit shallowly constructed. Its hard to imagine a segregation system which is as completely effective as the one described. How did it ever occur? Why didn’t people fight back? Did people never randomly fall in love with the “wrong” set of have affairs?
I persevered however, and the second half of the book is much better that the first, including some twists I didn’t expect. Overall an ok book, but not fantastic.
This is a short book, and quite different from the other Asimovs I’ve read recently. Specifically it doesn’t have any robots, and isn’t a murder mystery. Its also set about 1,000 years into the future from the previous Robot Mysteries. Its a good book, with a style similar to the original Robot Mysteries (distinct from the newer ones written 40 years later). Its short and an easy read. I liked it.
Update: I originally thought the space between the Robot Mysteries and this book was much bigger than apparently it is meant to be. According to Wikipedia’s page on the empire series:
“Some sources further this argument by asserting that The Stars, Like Dust takes place about one thousand years following the events of Robots and Empire.”
I find the newer Asimovs harder to read for some reason — I think it might be because they are more inclined to introspection that the earlier ones, but that might not be all of it. Overall I enjoyed this book, although I did find that I lost enthusiasm briefly in the middle. Overall, worth the effort though.
You can tell that Asimov was getting old at the time that he wrote this book, as he dwells extensively on the importance of living an interesting and worthwhile life, instead of necessarily a long life. Overall he makes the argument that this is what is wrong with Spacer society — life is so long that its inconceivable to take risks early in life that might shorten that life. Later in life its too late however, as you are by then trapped in your comfortable rut. Its an interesting concept, and one which bears further consideration.
This book is the third in the third in the Robot mystery series, and is once again set on a Spacer world. This one was written 30 years after the first two, and Asimov’s style has noticeably changed between the 1950s and 1980s.
The book starts off slowly, with a lecturing tone which I found quite annoying. For example, devoting an entire page to a discussion of whether the deliberate death of a a robot (even a human shaped on) is murder. Often the first part of the book feels like it is going excessively slowly.
However, its only the first third of so of the book which suffers this flaw. Its as if Asimov realized after a while that he also had a story to tell, and got on with it. The book then improves massively and has a good story.
So, overall I liked this book, although the first part of the book wasn’t as good as the rest of the Asimov I’ve read.
[award: nominee hugo 1984]
Bill Clarke was kind enough to lend me a compendium of Asimov that contained the next book in the series I’m reading at the moment. I’ve had to skip over some of the earlier collections of robot short stories, because they’re quite hard to find. Specifically, I haven’t been able to find anyone with a copy of The Complete Robot for sale, even new.
This book is the next in the Robot series, and the second which features Detective Baley. Again Baley is solving a murder, although this time its occurred on a Spacer world instead of his own Earth. Along the way he has to confront his own fear of open spaces, as well as other’s fear of proximity to other humans.
This was again another excellent book. I enjoyed it a lot.
Caves of Steel is interesting because it is a murder mystery set in the future, which at the time this book was written was a novel concept. It also presents an interesting almost-communist view of the future, where individual liberties are surrendered one by one in order to improve economic efficiency in order to support Earth’s ever growing population. Implicit in that is the assertion that capitalism is inherently inefficient, but I’ll leave that discussion alone.
This book is a really quick read. It took me a day (including actually going to work) to knock it over, which was fun. The book is a good, light read.
[award: nominee hugo 1954]