Review of “Pebble in the Sky” by Isaac Asimov

This was the best of the Galactic Empire books, but I couldn’t get past the fact that I found the story totally unbelievable.

A guy from Earth gets transported many millennia into the future, where he finds an Earth that’s a backwater outpost of the Galactic Empire (which we don’t know much about). He’s then made super smart. He and several others discover a plot to destroy the Empire. Earth is de facto run by a council of elders who believe that Earth was the birthplace of mankind. These elders plan to destroy the empire with biological weapons. Luckily, our newly smart guy and his friends foil the plot.

Setting aside the time travel elements, I found it hard to believe that such advanced people wouldn’t have better methods of recording events, such that they’d entirely forget that Earth was the original home of humans. Additionally, like much sci-fi it assumes huge advances in physics and chemistry but complete stagnation in biology.

The books in this series are underdeveloped. The Empire isn’t really explained (I believe the Foundation Series will rectify this) and so the events have little or no context. I’m happy to be moving on to the Foundation Series.

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4 Responses to Review of “Pebble in the Sky” by Isaac Asimov

  1. ivvenalis says:

    “better methods of recording events”

    The star ships in Foundation are reliant on paper star charts and presumably slide rules for FTL travel. Also, nuclear fission.

  2. jim says:

    The guys that built the great Zimbabwe have a vague recollection of coming from a land far away to mine gold, and marrying the local black females. They have somewhat Jewish practices, and genetic examination shows that their priestly class has the Cohen gene, hence are descendents of Aaron in the male line, and that all of them are descended in the male line from Hebrews or Canaanites. Presumably they are a branch of the lost tribes of Israel. They don’t remember much.

  3. Zimriel says:

    Asimov cooked up a pretty good explanation for the lack of progress in robotics – Robots of Dawn and its sequel explain it as evolution, basically. Men who build robots to take care of them – the Spacers – fall into luxury and decadence. Men without robots need other men to help them – so they have a motive to procreate and occupy their time. It was less blunt a plot device than the Butlerian Jihad, anyway. (And we somewhat see the results in today’s Japan.)

    As for Asimov’s parallel neglect of genetics, I can’t tell you. He SHOULD have at least read Brave New World and formed an opinion on that.

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