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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An undisputable SF classic, 24 Jun 2013
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John M "John M" (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Gods Themselves (S.F. MASTERWORKS) (Paperback)
It seems incredible that with around a hundred titles published in the SF Masterworks series, this is the first novel by Isaac Asimov. But I guess it's better late than never. The Gods Themselves was first published in the early 1970s and won both Hugo and Nebula Awards for best novel, a rare double which was richly deserved.
The novel is written in three sections, the first concentrating on the concept and invention of the Electron Pump, a potential solution to the World's energy problems, by exchanging material with a parallel universe where the laws of physics are subtely different. However the resultant changes in the strong nuclear force may be more immediate than predicted. The alien counterpart in the parallel universe seem aware and may be trying to warn of future catastrophe. The second section concentrates on the problem from the perspective of the alien intelligence, and the final section presents a solution to humanity.
In my opinion the mid-sction contains the most unique and intriguing portrait of an alien species and alternative universe found in any work of SF. The concepts of the Electon Pump and the Pionizer are also amazing in their concepts and prescience, bearing in mind the speculation in theoretical physics about the existence of alternative universes with different values for the fundamental forces.
As ever, great SF is ahead of it's time.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Flawed, but nevertheless essential, 1 Oct 2013
This review is from: The Gods Themselves (S.F. MASTERWORKS) (Paperback)
You are going to love The Gods Themselves completely, or not at all. But you cannot deny its cleverness and ambition.

It is an essential addition to the SF canon because it is stylistically different from almost any other novel: a triptych of mysteries, tied together by an entirely whimsical scientific premise. The unfolding of this bizarre thought experiment is sublimely elegant and the whole story is about scientists and the nature of science.

There are three parts to this story, each in a different style. Part One is written as the journal of an academic whose discoveries are suppressed by his seniors when he inconveniently points out the risks of a seemingly limitless source of cheap, clean energy. Part Two made this book famous; we step over into a parallel universe, the source of the energy exchange that allows the scientific revolutions described in Part One. There are two mysteries in this second section: The key mystery is investigated by Dua, the protagonist, a jellyfish-like alien who becomes a self-taught scientist and discovers the sinister motive behind the exchange of energy with the human universe. The second mystery is for us; what is the true nature of the alien race we are confronted with? We see through this one pretty quickly, and it's a shame that Asimov didn't add a bit more biodiversity to his oceanic otherworld to make it less obvious, but nevertheless, it's all very neat and satisfying when the mystery is revealed.

Both of the first two sub-stories work well in Asimov's characteristic style; logical, professorial exposition, simple characters, and little need for description. ...The gears grind a little in the third act; Part three is a more traditional sci-fi story about a human researcher, visiting a space colony on the moon. This section is essential for tying up the plot, and it is rounded off so neatly that you forgive Asimov his missteps, but nevertheless this is the least successful of the three acts, with some awkwardly-played romance elements.

In spite of its failings, this is Asimov's greatest achievement as a writer and one of the most individual and worthy pieces of hard science fiction that will ever be conceived.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Never challenge a master !, 13 Aug 2013
This review is from: The Gods Themselves (S.F. MASTERWORKS) (Paperback)
The story goes that Isaac Asimov was once challenged by a "critic" that he cannot write about two things.Alien races and sex.He was ,of course,right,but only in part.I.A.had pesrsistently stuck,to that date, to the concepts of "humans only universe" and "no sex whatsoever"in all his works.
But one should never interpret "I don't want to" as "I cannot do it".
The result is this masterful novel.Which not only introduces a brand new idea-getting unlimited energy from another universe-but also a totally new concept of what an intelligent race could be like,and how it procreates.The triad !It does,also,include one of the sexiest scenes ever written-but only if one is an alien !
A master is a master - and he can prove it when the need arises!
I did enjoy this novel immensely.And the phrase that inspired the title,"Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain("Mit der Dummheit kämpfen Götter selbst vergebens")by Friedrich von Schiller ,poet ,historian and playwrite, (1759 - 1805))became one of my all time favorite mottos !
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Gods Themselves., 16 Nov 2013
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This review is from: The Gods Themselves (S.F. MASTERWORKS) (Paperback)
I now have all of Azimov's full-length novels. Over the years, Azimov's style has changed significantly the years and are very 'wordy' but the books are still very readable.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fantastically imaginative Sci-Fi, just peters out a little bit at the end, 9 Jan 2014
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This review is from: The Gods Themselves (S.F. MASTERWORKS) (Paperback)
One naturally expects great things of Isaac Asimov and in this case, one is not disappointed. This is a gripping, thought provoking story of the struggle against human arrogance and self deception. I must confess that once I picked it up I found it very difficult put down again and I finished it within 3 days.

The book is split into 3 parts, and the middle part is some of the most imaginative story telling I have ever come across. It describes a dis-functional family of totally alien beings, with their distinct society, physical drives, biological mechanics and three sexes, set in another universe where the fundamental physical laws differ from our own. The relationship between these beings and our own universe is one of the chief plot devices in the book.

An important aspect for me personally in a Sci-Fi story is that the inevitably made-up science is relatively sensible, and Asimov does not disappoint. If you have a degree in Physics then you may be able to poke a few holes in the underlying theories, but in general the science is very well thought out and well presented.

This is a real Sci-Fi classic.

The only problem that I did have with this book was that I found the ending to be slightly underwhelming. There was some tension building - both scientific and political - throughout the last third of the story and I felt that this tension was swept under the carpet. The climax which I had been expecting never really happened and everything just sort of turns out fine.

But still. A cracking read.
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The Gods Themselves (S.F. MASTERWORKS)
The Gods Themselves (S.F. MASTERWORKS) by Isaac Asimov (Paperback - 13 Jun 2013)
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