Posts tagged asimov
Science Fiction Author Primer

More than in many genres the freedom allowed in science fiction leads to the necessity of finding good authors. Without knowing who the author of a story was it is difficult to have any idea what to expect. Consider the story of a detective investigating the suspected murder of a human by a robot. Written by Philip K. Dick you have a tale of paranoia and questioning of reality, written by Isaac Asimov you have "I, Robot", and both of these are good authors. So who are the authors the most famous science fiction authors, the ones who can be relied upon to tell a good story every time?

Starting at the beginning you have Jules Verne and H.G. Wells. Their stories are sometimes a bit dated but they are almost always good stories with nearly every element of more modern science fiction in their pages at some point. With these writers you can travel to the center of the earth, the moon, through time, meet alien and more.

Throughout the early part of the century there were many good science fiction authors but the golden age of science fiction didn't start until the late 1930's. At this point man began to understand his own ability to destroy himself and the power at his hands. The world seemed on the edge of either destruction or a golden age and we didn't know which. At this time I like to go with the ABC route of authors: Asimov, Bradbury, and Clarke. This leaves out a great many excellent authors out but is a fantastic place to start.

Isaac Asimov is one of the most prolific authors in history. Asimov wrote over 400 books including "Foundation", "I, Robot" and "Nightfall", as well as a great many short stories, and numerous non-fiction works on science.

Ray Bradbury didn't limit himself purely to science fiction sometimes writing stories that were horror but he is best known for "The Martian Chronicles" and "Fahrenheit 451" two of the best known science fiction stories of all time.

Arthur C. Clarke is a British author and one of the harder writers of hard science fiction. Often sticking with stories nearer in the future he is best known for "Childhood's End" and "2001: A Space Odyssey" and many others.

There are simply too many great authors of science fiction to list them all and at some point you will learn the style of story you want to hear. Asimov often deals more with psychology than hard science, while Frank Herbert will give you every detail of the world and Robert A. Heinlein will give entertaining wish fulfillment.

There are fantastic modern authors as well but their body of works is often much smaller and still growing. In repayment for often having less work they are able to relate their stories more specifically to the world we live in now. Two of the better ones are Orson Scott Card, who wrote "Ender's Game", and Neil Stephenson who wrote "Snow Crash".

Any time you try a new author it is like meeting a new person. You may like them but do you have anything in common? Do your views meet, your ideas of fun? Yet meeting people is necessary or your world will quickly grow very small so pick up books from the most famous of science fiction authors and see which you like.

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Nightfall by Isaac Asimov: Review
I haven't written nearly as much as I want to about one of my favorite Science Fiction formats, short stories. There is something about science fiction that fits the short story format perfects. I suppose it is that often the main point of the story is the idea and if you can put that across in 5 pages that's better than 300. So I am going to begin to discuss short stories more and I am going to start with my favorite Nightfall. Nightfall was written by Isaac Asimov and is about a world with 6 suns. They are at our general level of technology so this isn't a story of fantastic technology, just fantastic science. Because they have six suns there is a nightfall only once every 2049 years. As this date approaches the scientists try to discover why civilization collapses whenever there is nightfall. Here I would like to say that if you have a choice get the short story. There is a novel and in my oppionon was completely unnecessary. The short story by itself tells everything that the story needed to tell. Now to the spoilers of the story. If you haven't read it then consider skipping the end. The punch at the end when you find out what is driving them insane is worth reading. I can't speak with complete authority, but I suspect that Asimov used social science more than most writers. He had characters with phobias in his robot series, psycho-history in the foundation books and in this book he deals with a sudden revelation that destroys their minds. It seems so obvious to us we don't even think about it. Stars, and not just a few. The planet of nightfall is far closer to the center of the galaxy than ours so there world is completely filled with stars. The sheer immensity of the galaxy is what breaks their minds. Perhaps the complete collapse of their civilization is a bit more than should be expectud but when you think about the way humans reacted to the information it becomes a bit easier to see. Humans have always seen the starts yet when it first was suggested that these could be stars as big and important as ours they were burnt at the stake. There is a great deal to discuss in nightfall. The characters are well written, a society with a fear of the dark is unique and interesting, even the science of how a solar system with 6 stars would work can keep your mind busy and that is what Asimov did best. Creating ideas that make you think about the way you look at the universe.
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