Monday, March 18, 2013

Buy Jupiter and Other Stories by Isaac Asimov

Title:  Buy Jupiter and Other Stories
Author:  Isaac Asimov
First Publication:  1975
Cover Artist:  John Harris

Anthologies can be hard to review.  The quality of stories tend to vary.  Sometimes one type of story might appeal to the reader but other types might not.  It becomes a battle between “greatest strength” and “greatest weakness”.  I have always enjoyed the variety of stories in good anthologies.  Early in my science fiction reading years, I was a big fan of Donald A. Wollheim’s “World’s Best SF” series (especially the ones from the late 60s).  From there I moved on to reading single author anthologies such as “The Wind’s Twelve Quarters” by Ursula K. Le Guin, “Songs of Stars and Shadows” by George R. R. Martin, “Four for Tomorrow” by Roger Zelazny, “I, Robot”  and “The Early Asimov” by Isaac Asimov, “Tales of Ten Worlds” by Arthur C. Clarke, and many others.  A couple of years ago, I decided to re-read my collection of Isaac Asimov and Roger Zelazny books.  This year I putting more of a focus on reading these old favorites.  And that brings me to this anthology.

Asimov was the first author I know of who did not just put out collections of his stories in anthologies.  He incorporated sections of his autobiography in the books.  The first time I read one of these was in Asimov’s “Before the Golden Age” collections.  I was fascinated by his comments on what was going on in his life when he read the stories in “Before the Golden Age”. In addition to loving his books, the snapshots of his life helped make me a fan for life.

Cover by Peter Jones

Asimov was not modest.  In reading the “Buy Jupiter and Other Stories” I learned that he went through a time where he doubted his writing skills.  When he and his first wife split up, he moved into an apartment in New York.  This move was what brought about his doubts.  It did not take that long for him to start selling stories and the doubts disappeared.

How are the stories?  This collection does not contain any of his classic short fiction but even his lesser efforts are worth reading.  Asimov’s sense of humor shines with such stories as “Shah Guido G”.  Some of the ones I liked best were “Exile to Hell”, “Does a Bee Care?”, “The Pause” and “Buy Jupiter”.

In my opinion you can’t go wrong with any anthology by Asimov.  If you have never read an Asimov collection, I would recommend starting with “I, Robot” but this is still a good collection.

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