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Asimov's Mysteries (Panther science fiction) Paperback – Dec 1969

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Paperback, Dec 1969

Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Grafton; New edition edition (Dec. 1969)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 058602929X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0586029299
  • Product Dimensions: 18.5 x 11.7 x 1.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 295,144 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By I Read, Therefore I Blog VINE VOICE on 6 Jun. 2007
Format: Paperback
Whilst the science behind the stories is now a little dated, the joy is that the mysteries themselves still work. What is particularly interesting is that the science became outdated even as Asimov presented these tales and he himself recognises the fact - for example, the twist in The Dying Light depends on the then current knowledge of Mercury, which was that it was a planet that did not spin - in an edit for the collection written in 1965, Asimov notes that this is now incorrect and there's a certain charm about that but the testament to his skill is that even when you know this, it doesn't detract from enjoying the story.

Some of the stories feature a character called Dr Urth, an extraterrologist who refuses to travel on any space device and is confined to leaving his home only by foot. He reminds me a great deal of Nero Wolfe (who similarly will not leave his house) and like Nero Wolfe, he has great deductive powers. Stories such as The Singing Bell and The Key make great use of his deductive reasoning in a way that makes him human (albeit a slightly pompous, odd-bird of a human) but will also have you slapping your forehead as you wonder how come you didn't come to that conclusion.

My favourite story in this particular collection is the last - The Billiard Ball is a murder mystery that combines billiards, arrogance, one-upmanship and murder in an ingenious and utterly delightful way that will make you pleased to see the criminal get away with it.

Whilst some of the science is a little complicated, you never feel overwhelmed and Asimov's careful explanations are not partonising but instead, enlightening and even more enjoyable. These stories work both as science fiction and as mysteries and as such will stand the test of time.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By John M. Ford TOP 500 REVIEWER on 10 Jun. 2011
Format: Paperback
These thirteen stories from one of science fiction's grand masters inform as well as entertain. Originally published during the 1950's and 60's, some of the stories show their age with old technology and sometimes outdated visions of the future. But all encourage readers to draw on scientific principles and logical thinking to solve a mystery before the Good Doctor brings the story to a close.

My three favorites:

In "The Singing Bell" it is clear from the beginning that Lois Peyton murdered Albert Cornwell. It may not be possible to prove it, even with the legal use of a psychprobe.

"Loint of Paw" is a short short story about a court case that ends badly. So very badly.

In "Star Light" the perfect crime is followed by the perfect getaway, planned with all the options in view.

The author's commentaries are as much fun as the stories. This book is recommended for Asimov fans and those who enjoy 1950's-era science fiction. Readers might also enjoy The 13 (Thirteen) Crimes of Science Fiction which assembles science fiction mysteries from several of Asimov's contemporaries.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By R. J. Artley on 15 Jun. 2009
Format: Paperback
A series of short-story mysteries with a science-fiction bent, some set in the present, some in the future, all turning on the correct interpretation of a particular clue - can you spot it first? Some involve Asimov's amateur-detective character 'Wendell Urth'. In style similar to Asimov's 'Black Widowers' series and his 'Union Club Mysteries'.
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By L K Denyer on 9 Jun. 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a fantastic mixture of intriguing stories. There is something for anyone who loves a mystery with a scientifiic twist.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 10 reviews
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Mysteries for the scientific mind 6 Dec. 2001
By Charles Ashbacher - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I love cerebral mysteries, so when I read this book, I was rapturous. The mysteries involve scientific principles, so as a scientist, I was pleased with that as well. As you read the thirteen short stories in the book, your brain cells are exercised, as you try to mix the clues with scientific facts to piece together the solution. The only drawback is that the stories were written before 1970, so some of the �facts� about the planets have been shown to be inaccurate. However, that does not detract from the quality of the story, it just requires you to set aside some of the knowledge that you may have.
To many, these mysteries will be of marginal interest, in that there is no sex whatsoever, very little in the way of violence and the mildest of harsh language. I found that appealing, not out of a sense of being prudish, but because their absence forces the story to succeed without titillating distractions, and Asimov has certainly accomplished that admirable feat.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Mystery and Science Theater 3 April 2008
By Andrew McCaffrey - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Many of Isaac Asimov's science-fiction stories contained elements of mystery tales, even if they were not full blown mystery stories themselves. Indeed, I remember reading a quote from the Good Doctor in which he pointed out that scientific discovery and the unfolding of many fictional plots held similarities to detective stories. But ASIMOV'S MYSTERIES is a collection of straight up science-fiction/mystery hybrids. Fourteen such short stories make up this anthology which range in publication date from 1939 (his first published short story) to 1967.

Note that while Asimov did occasionally write mysteries with no science fiction aspects to the story -- his Black Widowers series -- no such stories appear in this collection. These stories are mysteries which usually turn on a point of science. Criminals are caught up by Newton's Laws. Murderers take full advantage of Einstein's General Theory of Relativity. By the way, don't be intimidated. Even if you struggled with your Middle School science classes, Asimov always had the ability to convey the more esoteric scientific concepts in easy to understand language. And -- as he acknowledges in the introduction -- he doesn't try to fool the audience by having the final mystery solved by a random law of nature being revealed to a scientifically-illeterate reader. As with most true detective novels, the audience is not cheated; any scientific knowledge which is necessarily for the climax will have been mentioned (perhaps subtly) by the author during the story's build-up.

Although I've read quite a number of Asimov's stories, this was the first time I encountered the character of Wendell Urth who appears a handful of times here. He's the scientist-turned-detective who is called upon to solve cases in which scientific expertise about extraterrestrial bodies is required. He's a very typical Asimov scientist in that he's logical, extremely intelligent and carries with him a few of Asimov's own personality quirks.

Like the characters, the stories and the prose are exactly what you would expect from Asimov: simple, direct and fun. Asimov's style was always very consistent; this is no exception. I can't really point to any particular standout story from this collection as I enjoyed them all about equally (even the ones I had read in other compilations). For me it was nice to finally read "Marooned Off Vesta" which was the first story Asimov ever had published and which I had never read before. I also enjoyed reading the sequel -- "Anniversary" -- which had been written to celebrate the twentieth year since the story's original publication.

These stories are enjoyable and relaxing. I read the bulk of these while making a couple of airplane flights (the thought of which would have made Asimov's skin crawl) and it's great to read something that can make the reader think while at the same time being genuinely fun and absorbing reads.

For convenience's sake, I'm including the table of contents here:

"The Singing Bell" (1955)
"The Talking Stone" (1955)
"What's in a Name?" (1956)
"The Dying Night" (1956)
"Pâté de Foie Gras" (1956)
"The Dust of Death" (1957)
"A Loint of Paw" (1957)
"I'm in Marsport Without Hilda" (1957)
"Marooned Off Vesta" (1939)
"Anniversary" (1959)
"Obituary" (1959)
"Star Light" (1962)
"The Key" (1966)
"The Billiard Ball" (1967)
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Asimov's Mysteries 19 Feb. 2000
By "shaeun" - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Isaac was the first person to sucessfully blend mystery and science fiction. This book contains most of the mysteries of his best Sci-Fi Detective, Edward Urth. Dr. Urth is a exoterrologist who solves mysteries at his armschair that happened thousands of miles away. Also includes a funny one "I'm In Marsport Without Hilda", the perfect murder with a time machine "Obituary", and more! Dr. Asimov's mysteries are short, well-written, intelligent and as satisfying as a chocolate covered granola bar. A must read for all mystery fans. If you loved the Black Widowers mysteries you'll love this.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
A classic collection of short stories 27 July 2001
By Fred Camfield - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
This book is a collection of 14 short stories (two of which are paired) that Issac Asimov classified as mysteries. They range from humorous stories like "Pate de Foie Gras," to actual murder mysteries such as "The Dust of Death." In the murder mysteries, the guilty person is not always caught. Victims sometimes set themselves up for the perfect crime. Two of the stories involve time travel. Some of the stories are traditional science fiction, while others are standard mysteries involving a little science, e.g., "What's in a Name." The stories are all entertaining, with some unexpected twists. Asimov had a tendency to occasionally include a horrid pun.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Description 14 Aug. 2005
By Dennis Gerlits - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
13 Incredible tales by the incomparable master of science fiction: The Singing Bell; The Talking Stone; What's in a Name; The Dying Night; Pate de Fois Gras; The Dust of Death; A Loint of Paw; I'm in Marsport Without Hilda; Marooned Off Vesta; Anniversary; Obituary; Star Light; The Key
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