The Gods Themselves (S.F. MASTERWORKS) Paperback – 13 Jun 2013
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For 14 years of a career stretching from 1939 to his death in 1992, Isaac Asimov wrote little SF and instead produced popular non-fiction in enormous quantities. The Gods Themselves (1972) was his "comeback" SF novel, welcomed by both Hugo and Nebula awards.
It opens in the world of Big Science that Asimov knew well, full of in-fighting and the race to publish first. The Inter-Universe Electron Pump sucks unlimited energy from nothing, making all power stations obsolete and bringing a new golden age. No one--especially not the scientist who got the credit--wants to listen to the doomsayer Lamont who calculates that the pump's side effects may detonate the Sun. Worse, there's no kudos for him: "And no one on Earth will live to know I was right".
Part two moves to the dying parallel universe whose hyper-intelligent aliens actually invented the pump and don't care what happens to our Sun. Asimov cleverly focuses on three immature aliens whose intelligence is less daunting and who slowly learn--with very different personal reactions--about their race's weird analogue of sex, about the pump's moral implications, and eventually about the unexpected meaning of maturity. These are the most original, engaging aliens Asimov ever created.
Part three is set in a carefully worked-out Moon colony and grapples with the "para-physics" of inter-universe loopholes. Can a politically acceptable replacement for the pump be developed? Solid, workmanlike SF with far more talk than action: one of Asimov's rare standalone novels. --David Langford --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
The HUGO and NEBULA AWARD-winning novel.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
One of the things I like about this novel is the way the Friedrich von Schiller quotation "Against stupidity, the [very] Gods themselves contend in vain" is worked into the story. The three phrases that make up this quote - "Against Stupidity...", "...The Gods Themselves...", and "...Contend In Vain?" are used as chapter titles - and, what's more, these titles are quite appropos to the theme of each chapter.
One of the most enjoyable parts of the novel is the second chapter, which portrays a most unusual, and wholly believable and consistent alien race. Science fiction authors often struggle with the difficulty of portraying an alien race that is different enough from humans to be believable as aliens, yet similar enough to make their motives and culture graspable by a human reader. Asimov succeeds brilliantly in this task, something I can say for only a few other SF titles.
At the risk of sounding PC, I was also pleased that Asimov introduced a strong female supporting character, something not usually found in most of his works. The "Selene" character introduced in the third chapter is reminescent of the strong female leads found in many Heinlien novels.
Any fan of Asimov's works - or, for that matter, any fan of good science fiction should add this book to their essential collection.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
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.
This book was something of a departure for him, not being related to any of his other SF works, but still shows his sure hand at plotting and his deft melding of real science with a literally out-of-this-world idea. The story is told in three completely different segments, related only by the commonality of the scientific idea that drives this book, the Electron Pump, a device that can, apparently, deliver infinite free energy by trading material with a universe that operates on slightly different physical laws than our own.
The first segment is a beautiful glimpse into the sometimes not-so-nice world of the academic researcher, into who gets credit (not necessarily the deserving one) for an idea, how animosities begin and are nurtured, about the crassness of public policy being determined by those who do not and cannot understand the basics of the science that delivers the technological goodies.
The second segment is the part that makes this book deserving of its Hugo Award. Shifting from our universe to the para-universe that initiated the transfer that began the Electron Pump, Asimov invents a truly alien race that is at once believable and violently different from our own. Here we meet Odeen, Tritt, and Dua, who each form one part of tri-sexed whole.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Another of Azimov's most brilliant, award-winning SF novels! Where did he get his amazing ideas from? He really did think 'outside the box' for this one! Read morePublished 1 month ago by Mr. Steven J. Parkes
The "goodies" win, the "baddies" get their come-uppance. I enjoyed the book.Published 4 months ago by Ken Davies
First book purchased for Kindle, replacing very old paper copy - very easy to read on this device.
The book is one of the better stories by Asimov and although the technology... Read more
'The plutonium/tungsten can make its cycle endlessly back and forth between Universe and para- Universe, yielding energy first in one and then in another . . . Read morePublished 10 months ago by A. G. Lockhart
I rate this book very highly. Let's have an AUDIO BOOK of it PLEASE. Satisfying on every level. Also, it introduced me to one of the most useful sayings that I have ever come... Read morePublished 11 months ago by R. T.
Isaac Asimov is America's most published author, at 440 books. I find myself wondering if it is possible to maintain a high standard over such a long distance? Read morePublished 12 months ago by D. F. PENNANT
I congratulate Asimov on writing this novel. Someone said that Asimov wrote this for a personal dare. I can understand that. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Martin