17 July 2012
Authors: Dr Isaac Asimov and Sir Arthur C Clarke
More classic science fiction authors this week. For details use your search engine of choice. Wikipedia links are at bottom. I’m not sure when I started reading either one. Both Asimov and Clarke write non-fiction as well as fiction. Their science fiction tends to be more science based. I’ve enjoyed stories from both, but I have never been a consistent reader of either. It has been a long time since I read a story or novel by either one. I have enjoyed their short stories more than their novels.
I’ve only read the first two books of the Clarke’s 2001 series. Enjoyed the first book and the movie based on it. I don’t really remember anything about the second book. Same happened with the Rama series. There are a couple of short story collections out that I’ve read and enjoyed. He has written a number of other novels that I haven’t yet read. A major novel that I did read was Childhood’s End. I read that novel while on a remote duty station assignment. That was the wrong place to read that novel. I needed people, lots of people, to be around at the end of that book and there weren’t a lot of people available. Few of the people around read a lot of science fiction. The end was very unsettling to me and no one around to talk with about it added to being unsettled about the story.
The one stand out short story, for me, from Clarke, is The Star. This one has a nice twist at the end. The Sentinel is the short story that 2001: a Space Odyssey is based on. Against the Fall of Night and the expanded revision The City and the Stars were both enjoyable to read and also had interesting twist on things.
I know I read the Asimov’s Foundation Trilogy Series, original ones only. The middle one was not all that good as I recall. Interesting concept ‘psych history’ that was proposed in the books. Also read a few of the robot books/stories. I read more of his short stories in science fiction and mysteries. He wrote a lot of popular science books. He had a way of explaining things so non-science people could understand the concepts. He also wrote a series about the Bible and some annotated works on classic novels.
He liked puns and twists at the end of his short stories and would usually have the end be a sentence or two on the last page. The one stand out short story, for me, is Nightfall. It won a few awards with good reason. It has a bit of a twist at the end. No details, no spoilers, go find it and read it. It is well worth the effort.
While stationed at McGuire AFB in NJ, I attended a lecture by Dr Asimov for Library Week. The title of the talk was “Escape to Reality”. He repudiated the idea that reading science fiction was to escape. As I recall, the talk was both entertaining and enlightening. Unfortunately, I was too intimidated to take any books with me to get signed or a camera. I did hang around and listen in while he chatted with other attendees after the lecture and signed books. He was very nice to all those that wanted books signed.