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The Currents of Space (The Empire Novels) Mass Market Paperback – Sep 1994

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Mass Market Paperback, Sep 1994
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Product details

  • Mass Market Paperback
  • Publisher: Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group; Reprint edition (Sept. 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553293419
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553293418
  • Product Dimensions: 2.5 x 10.8 x 17.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,919,818 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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About the Author

Isaac Asimov was the Grand Master of the Science Fiction Writers of America, the founder of robot ethics, the world’s most prolific author of fiction and non-fiction. The Good Doctor’s fiction has been enjoyed by millions for more than half a century.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By S. P. Maxwell VINE VOICE on 4 Jun. 2004
Format: Paperback
I read this book after the robot novels and the Foundation series, and it is definitely best read when you are already an Asimov fan. If this were the only Asimov book you had read, you would not be able to understand his reputation as a Science Fiction master. I enjoyed it, and it's nice to read something set in between the two great series he wrote, but it's a pretty workmanlike effort. I recommend it only to those who have finished all his more famous works and fancy exploring the world he created a bit further. In fact, the best thing about this book is the political and social world Asimov creates, especially as it acts as a link in the chain between the robot novels and the time of the Foundation era, being set in a time when Trantor is powerful, but has not yet dominated the whole galaxy. Overall: decent early Asimov, but not for the casual reader.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Neal Reynolds on 29 May 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Of course this is science fiction and quite notable science fiction at that. But in the hands of Isaac Asimov, it's also a mystery although not in the style of the first three robot novels. Somebody used a psychic probe on an Earthman, wiping out his memory, and dumped him in a small village on the planet, Florina. The woman who takes charge of him and the village's townsman eventually team up as the man begins regaining memory, and all become embroiled in political machinations. We're introduced to the planet Trantor, the center of the Galactic Empire.
While this is the last of the Empire trilogy written by Asimov, it's the earliest in the fictional time sequence, occuring in an era much later than that era covered in the Robot novels.
This is an engaging, tightly written novel with twists which will keep the reader involved.
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By VV TSONKOV on 3 Mar. 2013
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is a great intro book for space and sciences. I loved it since I was a kid. Great value!
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By J. Challinor on 4 Nov. 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 71 reviews
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
The Best Of The Galactic Empire Novels 1 Jan. 2007
By Dave_42 - Published on
Format: Mass Market Paperback
After finishing "The Stars, Like Dust", Asimov started working on a third novel which would be called "The Currents of Space", which he was intending to publish in "Astounding". After discussing the idea with Walter Bradbury of Doubleday & Co., Bradbury expressed interest in publishing the third novel as he had the first two. The novel was published in October - December of 1952 in "Astounding", and by Doubleday in December.

"The Currents of Space" is easily the best of the three precursor novels to the Foundation series which have become known as the Galactic Empire Series; however that is not all that difficult. This story takes place in Asimov's universe chronologically between the other two books, at a time when Trantor had become an empire, but not the Galactic Empire that it would become later.

The story is centered on the planet Florina and on a man named Rik, who initially appears to be mentally challenged, but who is in fact a spatio-analyst from Earth who has had much of his mind erased by a Psychic Probe after he tried to warn of the impending destruction of the planet. When Rik's memory starts to return, people from Trantor and Sark (the world which rules Florina), and perhaps others as well become aware of his existence and try to find and control him.

As with the first two Galactic Empire novels, Asimov wrote an afterword where he explains the scientific errors in the story. In this story the error is rather significant to the plot; however, the other elements of this story do not suffer as badly as they did in "Pebble in The Sky" or "The Stars, Like Dust". Regardless, this is only a fairly average novel, and not the best place to start if you are unfamiliar with Isaac Asimov.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
The end of the world will come when it darn well feels like it, thank you very much 19 Dec. 2012
By Michael Battaglia - Published on
Format: Mass Market Paperback
It's actually nice to finally be able to read this novel. I bought the darn thing probably around fifteen years ago when I was a teenager and on an Asimov kick. What I didn't realize at the time was that it was the only novel in the Empire series in print. Being slightly picky about such things (and probably not totally realizing that the novels aren't all that related) I tried to order the other two, failed, and then put this volume aside for quite some time. Eventually due to the magic of the Internet, I was able to find used copies of the other two and I was able to satisfy my strange urge to read them all in a row.

Was it worth it? Actually, it was. I'm glad that I read it after the first two volumes because there's such an uptick in . . . I won't say "quality" because all three are decent but however you want to quantify the elusive factor known as "knowing what you're doing." Inspiration, maybe? That could be it. This one feels more inspired.

After a beginning where a scientist predicts that a planet will be destroyed to someone who not only openly scoffs but then proceeds to drug and mindwipe the poor guy, we're shifted to the world of Florina, ruled by Sark. Upon arriving we discover worker Rik, who was mysteriously found in a field a year ago knowing little more than a baby did and slowly putting himself back together and learning basic skills. Until more than basic science skills come back to him, kicking off a search that threatens to drag every conceivable faction into the mess.

Of all the Empire novels, this one shows off Asimov's sometimes underrated skill at building intensity, something that we only really saw in the early Robot novels. Far from being bound to acting like a SF novel, at times it seems more like a political thriller with SF trappings as everyone seeks to gain the upper hand by finding out who knows what and when, and more importantly, what they don't know. Meanwhile Rik is caught in events without having much idea how he even got involved in this stuff in the first place. A vast stretch of the novel doesn't even involve him, as the faction on Sark and the agents from Trantor all vie to intimidate each other and figure out who the mole might be, almost like Asimov had gotten bored with good ol' Rik (who isn't much of a character beyond the amnesiac scientist type). In fact, when the novel isn't ignoring Rik, it's looking at the Townsman as he goes on a minor killing spree as he tries to evade the authorities, coming as close as Asimov ever did to that slippery beast he called "action." His quirk of staking anything that might quicken your pulse in the periphery is already in full force, with killings being described after the fact, or in such clinical brushed off detail that a friend of a friend of a friend might as well be telling you about it. It becomes maddening after a while, especially when you're waiting for a fight scene to break up all the people talking at each other and the book decides to give you more people talking about the fight scene you just missed. Gah.

But his footing is surer here than the other Empire novels and you finally get a sense that he's figuring this stuff out. The relationship between Sark and Florina is fairly well thought out in its totalitarian complexity and the tangled politics between Sark and Trantor ground the settings with a new urgency, so that it feels like the events that are happening here matter. All the political maneuvering between the Squires and Trantor doesn't quite reach the sophisticated heights of CJ Cherryh but comes close to stuff that Poul Anderson would be doing in his own series of novels. You can see a lot of instances here where other SF writers would take and refine these concepts further (the whole Spatio-analytics concept seems like something Van Vogt would have had fun with). I don't know who did it first, or if this book was influential at all but it's always neat to see the roots.

Still, it's got flaws. As I mentioned, its talky in that Asimov way, where pages and pages go by of people debating things. This would be less of a problem when the central conceptual hook was good enough to justify all that chatter (the Robot novels, mostly, as most of the Foundation stories are shorter) but here it's not quite enough. Rik isn't a very strong character, we're supposed to feel bad that he's being buffeted by events out of his control and thus feel sorry for him but it's hard to get too worked up when his initial warnings are ignored by even the novel. It also seems like Asimov treated romance much the same way as action, handled off screen, which means that anyone who is a woman gets a bit of the shaft in terms of their narrative potential, mostly being around to add some local color. But what's worse is that the idea that is supposed to get us into the novel, the imminent destruction of the world, almost becomes a MacGuffin of sorts, in the background until the plot requires it to be and handled with any sort of sense of urgency or worry.

Which means you stick around for the scenery and the political action. In this case it's strong enough to save the novel. Not enough to make it one of his all time classics but such a cut above the other two that you can definitely see the well from which the actual classics would eventually spring.
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
In any setting but sci-fi, this would be Wouk via Ludlum 18 July 2000
By R. L. MILLER - Published on
Format: Mass Market Paperback
One day, on an agricultural colony planet run by a empire as harsh as the Roman Empire in biblical times, a local functionary finds a man whose mind has been destroyed in one of his town's fields. A peasant woman is tasked to re-raise this man from pretty much a second infancy. But now things are starting to come back, and the supervisor, although a native himself, sees the threat this poses to his masters' power. The principal crop on this world is a form of cotton that grows only this way on his planet--it's used in expensive clothing. But before his mind was "wiped", the victim was a scientist who had discovered a menace which threatened that planet. Although the story has Ludlumesque head games by people in power, its strong point is in the human factor in the form of the victim, his female protector, as well as his former boss who's concerned about what became of him. That's why I say Wouk. But this is a sci fi book, right? Well, don't let that scare you off. It's a hell of a story in a middlin' size book--you don't get the two in a single package all that often.
11 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Best of the Empire and Robot novels 10 Nov. 2000
By Craig MACKINNON - Published on
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Having read all of Asimov's early works, it's fair to say that this is the best of the crop of the Empire novels, and is better than all the Robot novels as well. It's not quite up to the Foundation stories, hence the rating of 4 stars.
The plot is interesting, and has aged well. There is not very much that makes you snicker in the light of current scientific knowledge. He has a lot of characters for a 200 page book, but it is never confusing; they are individuals and it's easy to keep them separated in your mind. The story draws you in and keeps you interested from beginning to end.
Asimov had the tendency to throw too many cliffhangers/revelations that didn't go anywhere in his early novels (as compared to, say, Nightfall), and it feels like he's cheaply manipulating the reader. This book, while containing some of these events, are far more logical and less contrived than in the other Empire and Robot novels. This makes it a far more enjoyable read.
It is a shame that these books are out of print. I think the fact that 14 people have written reviews of this book points to the fact that there is still a following for Asimov out there, and maybe the publishers should print another edition of these early books, even in a single volume (as each Empire book is only 200 pages or so).
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Gripping and well thought-out sceince fiction 29 Jan. 2010
By Matthew Schwarz - Published on
Format: Hardcover
While clearly science fiction by its setting, this novel also contains elements of detective novel, future history/social commentary, and espionage. The setting is an agricultural planet (Florinia) that yields a unique and highly valuable crop (a high-quality luxury cloth fiber), and the natives are exploited at a peasant/slave level by the rich and oppresive Squires from nearby planet Sark. Meanwhile, Sark is, due to its rich export, able to stave off conquest by the encroaching Trantorian empire. Within this setting, a scientist has discovered a danger to Florinia, but before he can alert officials, he is captured and his memory erased (with a sci-fi device) by an unknown party. The story begins with the scientist, renamed Rik, barely able to function and not knowing who he is, working amongst the Florinians and remembering things piecemeal. From here, the various sides are all trying to figure out what is going on, and struggling to get their hands on Rik, as he and his companions try to elude capture. Asimov keeps both the action and the ideas going to keep the reader interested, and creates a beleivable and sensible "world" and plot, without resorting to two-dimensional stereotypes or suspension-of-disbelief moments. Even the overlords come across as human beings, despite their reprehensible social system (one remembers even America's "founding fathers" included slave-owners). Everything makes perfect sense at the end, yet I didn't guess the truth before I read it. Although written over 50 years ago, the science-fiction aspects don't come across as dated (although the underlying science of Rik's belief of danger for the planet has been discredited, it was beyond my scientific knowledge until I looked it up).
Asimov's genius lies in the ability to tell an engrossing adventure story intelligently. Although well crafted, lthis IS a quick read - I'm surprised to find it listed only as an expensive hardcover; this is prime mass-market material; and at 200 pages each, they really should bind Asimov's three similar novels (this, "Pebble In The Sky", and "The Stars Like Dust" - not closely related, but all set in the same "universe" between his "Robot" and "Foundation" series) into one 600-page paperback! So, I suggest reading it, but (unless you like to collect hardcovers) pick up a used copy at a reasonable price.
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