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The Gods Themselves

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Author: Isaac Asimov

Published: February 10th 2000 by Millenium (first published 1972)

Format: Paperback , 288 pages

Isbn: 9781857989342

Language: English


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In the twenty-second century Earth obtains limitless, free energy from a source science little understands: an exchange between Earth and a parallel universe, using a process devised by the aliens. But even free energy has a price. The transference process itself will eventually lead to the destruction of the Earth's Sun--and of Earth itself. Only a few know the terrifying In the twenty-second century Earth obtains limitless, free energy from a source science little understands: an exchange between Earth and a parallel universe, using a process devised by the aliens. But even free energy has a price. The transference process itself will eventually lead to the destruction of the Earth's Sun--and of Earth itself. Only a few know the terrifying truth--an outcast Earth scientist, a rebellious alien inhabitant of a dying planet, a lunar-born human intuitionist who senses the imminent annihilation of the Sun.  They know the truth--but who will listen?  They have foreseen the cost of abundant energy--but who will believe?  These few beings, human and alien, hold the key to the Earth's survival.

30 review for The Gods Themselves

  1. 5 out of 5

    Richard

    Isaac Asimov rarely wrote about either aliens or sex. In response to critics who complained about these omissions, he wrote a book about alien sex. Rather, a book whose middle third is mostly about alien sex. (Mostly.) The other two thirds of the book tell one of the "purest" and "hardest" science fiction stories I've ever read. By pure, I mean that there's a single, science-related "what-if," and that the story hinges upon that. (In contrast to, for example, a space opera such as Star Trek, in w Isaac Asimov rarely wrote about either aliens or sex. In response to critics who complained about these omissions, he wrote a book about alien sex. Rather, a book whose middle third is mostly about alien sex. (Mostly.) The other two thirds of the book tell one of the "purest" and "hardest" science fiction stories I've ever read. By pure, I mean that there's a single, science-related "what-if," and that the story hinges upon that. (In contrast to, for example, a space opera such as Star Trek, in which there are many imaginary technologies, most of which serve as background, rather than as the impetus of the story. Not that there's anything at all wrong with a good space opera.) The motivator for The Gods Themselves is the question, "what if there were a parallel universe in which the laws of physics were a little different?" By hard, I mean that the science is accurate. Which is not to suggest that this reads like a textbook at all; only that the fiction is grounded in reality, as it should be.

  2. 5 out of 5

    BlackOxford

    There’s No Free Lunch The wonder of Asimov’s fiction is that it has so many possible interpretations, many of which are acutely philosophical and often counter-cultural. Here’s one about The Gods Themselves: Scientific method is the modern intellectual fetish. We talk like we know what it means; and that what it means is the rational expansion of knowledge, leading to an improvement in the human condition. But both presumptions are questionable. Historically, scientific progress has been more acci There’s No Free Lunch The wonder of Asimov’s fiction is that it has so many possible interpretations, many of which are acutely philosophical and often counter-cultural. Here’s one about The Gods Themselves: Scientific method is the modern intellectual fetish. We talk like we know what it means; and that what it means is the rational expansion of knowledge, leading to an improvement in the human condition. But both presumptions are questionable. Historically, scientific progress has been more accidental and the consequence of less than creditable emotions than a rational search for knowledge. And the real value of scientific results can’t be assessed by the method that produces them. In other words, as with Asimov’s Electron Pump (or with nuclear power which is a bit closer to home), we can’t tell if science is rational or not in its output. We’re flying blind, celebrating the fact that we’re flying without caring in the least about our destination or that flying might be dangerous. Our blind spot about scientific method is its source: Thought. There is a cost to the ability to think. But because this cost is deferred, it looks like its a free gift in and to the universe - mind appears as something different than body. As if thinking were a character of existence rather than of something that exists. Cogito ergo sum: Descartes’ dualism is the practical philosophy of everyday life even if the professionals have debunked it long ago. So, for example, those things associated with thinking - language, mathematical analysis, contemplation, meditation, reading, story-telling - are considered more or less spiritual. That is, they appear unaffected by the iron laws of material economics. But the reality is a very strict physical law: Think now, pay later; and pay big. Thinking takes energy. Not just the energy required of the organism in which thinking is taking place, but also the energy required to execute the ideas that thinking produces. The central resource of the cosmos is the local differentials in energy. To the extent these are present, work is possible. Thought is the instrument that seeks to minimize work by minimizing the potential for work. Thought seeks to exploit these differentials, and thus annihilates them. The ultimate victim is thought itself. The more we think, the closer to death we come. Thought is a suicide mission. Consequently, the evolution of thinking beings is an ecological disaster for the universe. The universe, and its separate components like the Earth, consume themselves much more quickly with the existence of thought than without it. Thinking sucks up energy differentials and flattens them. Thinking then begets technology which begets waste heat which begets entropy which is another name for death. Thinking beings have an inevitable death wish that even Freud never considered. Therefore to the extent that Asimov is thought-provoking (and he clearly is that), he is destroying the capability of the universe to maintain thinking beings at all. Makes one think, doesn’t it? Postscript: Perhaps Asimov anticipated Alain de Botton. See: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

  3. 5 out of 5

    Dirk Grobbelaar

    What’s a man supposed to do? Here is a novel that is greatly revered by critics and fans alike. It received both the Nebula and Hugo awards for best novel (1972 and 1973 respectively). Asimov himself identified this as his favourite. And yet… I normally really enjoy Asimov’s works. Foundation, especially, is one of my favourite SF novels. I am going to go against what appears to be the norm by not giving this novel four or five stars. It’s a novel I respected rather than enjoyed. I can certainly What’s a man supposed to do? Here is a novel that is greatly revered by critics and fans alike. It received both the Nebula and Hugo awards for best novel (1972 and 1973 respectively). Asimov himself identified this as his favourite. And yet… I normally really enjoy Asimov’s works. Foundation, especially, is one of my favourite SF novels. I am going to go against what appears to be the norm by not giving this novel four or five stars. It’s a novel I respected rather than enjoyed. I can certainly recognise The Gods Themselves as a good Science Fiction novel. It’s no surprise it won awards. The science is hard enough to break rocks, even in one sixth of gravity. No doubt using this book to teach some of the fundamentals surrounding atoms and isotopes would be a good ploy for a science teacher. This is Asimov in full-lecture mode. There is also a lot of dialogue as characters use one another as sounding boards to drive the science home. To borrow from the comment below: it’s a bit wordy. And perhaps most importantly. The novel opens with an apocalyptic notion of epic proportions. The universe is going to explode! Or, more specifically, our “arm of the galaxy is going to be turned into a quasar”. You’d think this garnered some sense of urgency. You’d be dead wrong. The story plods along at its own pace, focusing on relationships and theories to a mind-numbing extent. But what about the imminent end of all things? Oh, well, I suppose we’ll get to that later. In the end it would have been more satisfying if the universe did explode, just to shut up all these people. Now before I get crucified. I liked the novel (hence the three stars), I just didn’t like it quite enough. In fact I feel that it is far inferior to Foundation. That is just my two cents’ worth, and looking at the current rate of exchange it probably isn’t much at all.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Manny

    One of the Holy Grails of science-fiction writing is the Convincing Alien Sex Scene. Has it ever been done? You get these claimed sightings, but then the sceptics move in. Okay, it's sexy and alien, but is it really convincing? Or, it's alien and convincing, but does it come across as sexy? Anyway, this book is one of the stronger contenders, as Asimov treats us to a graphic, no-holds-barred description of how a three-gendered species get it on. I found it convincing, and many people agree that i One of the Holy Grails of science-fiction writing is the Convincing Alien Sex Scene. Has it ever been done? You get these claimed sightings, but then the sceptics move in. Okay, it's sexy and alien, but is it really convincing? Or, it's alien and convincing, but does it come across as sexy? Anyway, this book is one of the stronger contenders, as Asimov treats us to a graphic, no-holds-barred description of how a three-gendered species get it on. I found it convincing, and many people agree that it's sexy. But is it truly alien? It's been said more than once that you just need to make a few substitutions of words, and it all becomes disappointingly mundane. I'm not sure I agree though. What exactly are these substitutions? I'm curious to know what other candidates there might be. Philip Jose Farmer's The Lovers must get an honourable mention at the very least. And then there's the bizarre sequence from Brian Aldiss's little-known novel The Interpreter, where the human hero gets trapped inside an alien porn cinema and experiences an extraterrestrial erotic movie with full touch and smell. Any more suggestions?

  5. 4 out of 5

    seak

    Though a science fiction novel, The Gods Themselves is also primarily about magic. Throughout the courses I took for my my undergraduate degree in Economics, we talked a lot about the driving forces behind the choices people make. One of the greatest is magic. We all want to find that magical thing that makes us not have to work as hard; magic makes life easier. This quest for magic has helped us innovate on a grand scale and use the resources around us for our own benefit. Whether it's been good Though a science fiction novel, The Gods Themselves is also primarily about magic. Throughout the courses I took for my my undergraduate degree in Economics, we talked a lot about the driving forces behind the choices people make. One of the greatest is magic. We all want to find that magical thing that makes us not have to work as hard; magic makes life easier. This quest for magic has helped us innovate on a grand scale and use the resources around us for our own benefit. Whether it's been good in the long run, I'll not get into just this second. In The Gods Themselves, a magic is found which makes life easier and it's the Electron Pump. Somehow, some beings have reached across the universe, time, or something, to impress themselves upon our world and made possible an endless energy source, which benefits all of humanity. The only problem is whether it is really for our benefit and what happens when the worst is found out? Would humanity easily give up such a gift? It's interesting to read this book, published in 1972, in light of today's problems with humanity's stewardship of the world. I'm sure, actually, that Mr. Asimov thought his day was bad. This book is told in three separate parts, each of which was published independently in Galaxy Magazine and Worlds of If. They focus on three quite different groups of people and their interaction with the Electron Pump. The first focuses on the physicists who discover and deal with the Electron Pump. The second focuses on those others and it's absolutely otherworldly, so much so, that it was quite difficult to read at first until you understood what was going on a bit more. It reminded me a little of Orson Scott Card's Mithermages series. The final part focuses on a human colony on the moon. One of the parts I can talk about without spoiling things is the description of gravity on the moon. Those who've lived there all their lives are essentially trapped there because their bones couldn't survive Earth's gravity and those who travel there have to take frequent, excruciating, trips home to Earth to keep their bodies in shape. After listening to a Star Wars book, it's interesting to note how little they care about the different gravities of worlds. Must be some hyper-technology that accounts for it right? Because Asimov is himself a scientist, the physics are competently explained, at least to a lay person like myself, and the dire consequences of humanity's actions are understood ... through science. Amazing! And a note on the audiobook reader, Scott Brick. Brick has been around the block, I don't know how many times I've come across his recordings. You can always trust him to bring the gravitas to any recording and you'll find nothing less here. This cleverly named book won both the Nebula Award in 1972 and the Hugo in 1973. And as the origin of the name of the book says, quoted from Friedriech Schiller, "Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain." (for the German speakers: "Mit der Dummheit kämpfen Götter selbst vergebens.") As apt today as it was ... when it was written. 4 out of 5 Stars (highly recommended)

  6. 5 out of 5

    Nandakishore Varma

    Isaac Asimov is a writer of ideas: and this is one of his best. The concept is mind-boggling. Energy transfer between parallel universes, a universe which contains a three-gendered species, a convincing thermodynamic problem solved in a convincing way: it's all there for the aficionado of Hard SF. Also, the shortsightedness of governments regarding possible disasters, when there are goodies available for the taking by ignoring the dangers seem strangely prophetic in the face of the Climate Change Isaac Asimov is a writer of ideas: and this is one of his best. The concept is mind-boggling. Energy transfer between parallel universes, a universe which contains a three-gendered species, a convincing thermodynamic problem solved in a convincing way: it's all there for the aficionado of Hard SF. Also, the shortsightedness of governments regarding possible disasters, when there are goodies available for the taking by ignoring the dangers seem strangely prophetic in the face of the Climate Change controversy we are going through now. The Schiller quote, which gives the novel its title, is strangely apt. Against stupidity, the gods themselves contend in vain. I am deducting a star for the structure of the novel, which is a mess.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Robert

    I just reread this book for the umptieth time over many years, and was struck once again by what a fine piece of work it is. This is one of the best pieces of pure science fiction every written. It isn't the best STORY, of course -- Asimov himself has better ones, as do many other science fiction authors from the post WWII era. But only a handful of other stories such as Forward's Dragon's Egg come to mind as being such excellent science fiction. I am a physicist, mind you. The amazing thing abou I just reread this book for the umptieth time over many years, and was struck once again by what a fine piece of work it is. This is one of the best pieces of pure science fiction every written. It isn't the best STORY, of course -- Asimov himself has better ones, as do many other science fiction authors from the post WWII era. But only a handful of other stories such as Forward's Dragon's Egg come to mind as being such excellent science fiction. I am a physicist, mind you. The amazing thing about this book is that it was written decades ago and yet STILL I find the underlying physical premise plausible. This is one of the earliest, and best, multiple universe theory books out there, and actually implicitly postulates physics that explains e.g. the big bang by means of a directed coupling across those Universes. They are differentiated, for example, by the strength of the strong nuclear interaction. Places where it is weak do not experience a big bang, but as they couple to universes with a stronger one, the strong interaction "bleeds through" and eventually tips a pre-bang state over to where it explodes. The story itself isn't bad. Some of the characters are overdrawn -- the bad-guy physicist is a bit too petty, the rest of the world's scientists a bit too pusillanimous to be strictly believable, and yet we all know at least SOME people who are actually like the caricatures. The inhabitants of the second universe who make up the middle third of the book are almost as spectacular as the underlying physical theory -- very, very different and yet not entirely implausible. Again, just as much fun as the cheela in Dragon's Egg. At this point, some of it is period piece. Nudity on Luna, the Heinleinian, slightly repressed sexual tension that is taken to an entirely romantic conclusion, the politics. At the time, perhaps, daring -- now merely quaint. Still, this is a book I'd definitely recommend to people wanting to explore the roots of science fiction as portrayed by one of its Grand Masters. rgb

  8. 4 out of 5

    Fran

    This book came along in 1973, at the time Asimov was dedicated to write books which were all connected; not exactly in a series but with common themes and even characters. So, looking at it from that point, The Gods Themselves is an outcast that doesn't follow the pattern. It's a book with marked differences to much of what Asimov wrote, and that's exactly one of the reasons why I like it so much. One of the first interesting differences is that this book is told from two quite opposite points of This book came along in 1973, at the time Asimov was dedicated to write books which were all connected; not exactly in a series but with common themes and even characters. So, looking at it from that point, The Gods Themselves is an outcast that doesn't follow the pattern. It's a book with marked differences to much of what Asimov wrote, and that's exactly one of the reasons why I like it so much. One of the first interesting differences is that this book is told from two quite opposite points of view: a human one and an alien one. The first section of the book is all humans. It tells about how Lamont (a self-obsessed scientist) is set to prove that Hallam's (an ego-maniacal scientist) new energy source and the answer to all mankind's energy problems (an electron pump that relies on the transfer of radioactive matter from a parallel universe) is actually going to destroy the earth. The relation between these two scientists, and the portrayals of many other scientists and politicians, reminds me of the realities of academic life: lots of bitchiness and back stabbing. It's all egos trumping scientific significance, even evidence. It seems to me, Asimov was perhaps disenchanted with academic life and decided to let it show. Of course, this overlaying scientific bitchiness is one of the things I enjoyed the most. The small, mean personalities shine hard, and even Lamont's last sentence, "No one on earth will live to know I was right," brings to mind the image of a spoiled brat angrier at his parents not believing him than at the world ending. The next section of the book is the one adding another dimension to this story (both literally and metaphorically) as Asimov takes us into a parallel universe. We go all the way to the place supplying all that free energy earth's enjoying. Suddenly, we find ourselves in an unmanned planet, populated by beings that survive by absorbing all their sustenance from a cooling sun. Two groups seem to co-exist in this world: The Soft Ones (which are divided in three different types: Rationals, Parentals and Emotionals) and, The Hard Ones. Again, Asimov is anything but subtle, and not disappoint after such names, there are long passages given over to the mating habits and even the auto-erotic proclivities of these aliens. Passages that are a testament to Asimov's matter-of-fact writing style. It's like watching a documentary on matting otters, all fact, no emotion but oh so much fun! Of course we could not go all the way to the Para-universe just to learn how these aliens like to get freaky, so there's also a lot said about what the aliens think of us and about their no-so-secret agenda for our world. The next and last section is where the action takes place. Here, Asimov takes us to the moon, our moon, where a large station has been active for decades and where, finally, someone tries to understand and counteract the ill effects of the electron pump. The moon people, all looking young and liking to go semi-naked around, showing the advantages of reduced gravity, are good people but they distrust Earthies (and not without good reason). Moon people can't go back to earth, because gravity will crush them, so they are fiercely protective of their native world, the barren moon. The book comes to a great conclusion with wild ideas flying left and right, and clear warnings about not listening to what scientists have to say because you're just to happy enjoying a convenient type of energy. So, swap electron pump for climate change and you turn Asimov's warnings into present life realities. An excellent book, entertaining, original and oh so naughty!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Adrian

    More tomorrow, but it’s Asimov and 5 stars⭐️ , what did you really expect? I have to say up front that Isaac Asimov is probably my favourite author. Yes I have favourite books by other authors, but taking into account that a large percentage of my favourite novels and stories are by this fantastic author, I think it qualifies him (today at least) as my favourite. So, I am guessing that I first read this book back in the mid 1970s, and maybe I haven't read it since as I remembered very little of it More tomorrow, but it’s Asimov and 5 stars⭐️ , what did you really expect? I have to say up front that Isaac Asimov is probably my favourite author. Yes I have favourite books by other authors, but taking into account that a large percentage of my favourite novels and stories are by this fantastic author, I think it qualifies him (today at least) as my favourite. So, I am guessing that I first read this book back in the mid 1970s, and maybe I haven't read it since as I remembered very little of it. The book has three distinctly separate sections. Initially we are focussed on the work of the Electron Pump and its founder Dr Hallam. This wonder machine provides unlimited energy for the Earth and seems to have no drawbacks. Dr Peter Lamont newly appointed to the project fears otherwise. The second section switches to the para universe where the power is transferred from. Here we meet the para creatures who designed the pump and sent the plans to Earth where Dr Hallam, used them to build the pump. The third section is located on the moon, where a (now middle aged) discredited scientist who had tried to criticise Dr Hallam, works with a lunar "Intuitionist" to prove his discredited theories and help solve Earth and the moon's energy problems. A fantastic book, with some great hard science , but also some excellent characters and Asimov's recognisable conversations that move the story along.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    This reread for me was still fun, well-paced, imaginative, and thought provoking. The tale concerns an opening with a parallel universe discovered by a physicist whose tungsten is converted into an impossible isotope of plutonium. When it decays usable energy is produced. At the point of the story when a science historian is interviewing this scientist, the massive construction of “Electron Pumps” is producing free energy on a scale sufficient hold the prospect of a coming shift to utopia for hu This reread for me was still fun, well-paced, imaginative, and thought provoking. The tale concerns an opening with a parallel universe discovered by a physicist whose tungsten is converted into an impossible isotope of plutonium. When it decays usable energy is produced. At the point of the story when a science historian is interviewing this scientist, the massive construction of “Electron Pumps” is producing free energy on a scale sufficient hold the prospect of a coming shift to utopia for humanity. The journalist gets onto the trail of secret knowledge that aliens in the alternate universe are the true inventors of the interuniverse pump and that initial warnings of dangers to our universe by a now discredited scientist are well-founded. The strange matter that results from the process implies a universe where the strong nuclear force is stronger, making fusion more likely and fission less likely. Enough matter exchanged could lead to a local build-up of a stronger nuclear force and theoretically cause the sun to explode. The motivation to ignore or not accept the danger is high among the economic powers and the stupid scientist who built his empire on harnessing the phenomenon. A method of marking the tungsten that gets swapped away leads to the beginnings of communication. The big question is whether the apparently smarter aliens know better or possibly continue with the pumping without concern for the risks to our universe. For a third of the book we slip into the story of on particular alien who is struggling with the knowledge of dangers to the other universe, ours. Most science fiction writers fail at creating really believable aliens because they end up infusing human characteristics to make them comprehensible. The best succeed by keeping their mentality at a distance and giving us only outward signs and behaviors that speak inscrutable otherness. Here Asimov puts us in their minds and society, a bold move worthy of respect for the care he takes. Inevitably, however, it only becomes engaging when human-related behaviors and emotions come into play. He envisions a three-gender photosynthetic species composed of Rationals, Emotionals, and Parentals, with the corresponding basic modes for life roles. A fourth type of alien, the Hard Ones, are running the society and keep knowledge of their lives to a minimum. Jealousy, pride, ambition, loyalty, shame, and fear are all key human emotions that come into play with the otherwise plausibly plot concerning the threat from insights that come when the Emotional member of the triad transgresses her role by learning more about the physics of the Electron Pump (Positron Pump in their universe). In the third section, decades later, the discredited scientist who prophesied doom arrives as an immigrant to a long-established colony on the Moon. As the society receives no benefits from the Electron Pump, the people are more open to more serious studies on its dangers or on solutions to the problem, and the scientist gets a chance to return to his interrupted work. With a little showing and more telling, Asimov takes a great stab at the likely open, progressive society that might develop on such a colony. I like how the scientist comes to value the society for its frontier qualities: The Moon is a world constructed by man from the start and out of basics. …On the Moon, there is no past to long for or dream about. There is no direction but forward. . Since the late 50’s we have been faced with the theoretical reality of parallel universes splitting off from own, but it is only in recent decades has modern physics made a strong case for a multiverse of alternate universes within which physical laws may vary. From this perspective this 1972 novel is prescient and pretty plausible in imagined details of the scenario, which is rare to this day. He may not achieve in-depth characters, Asimov has plenty of strength in a good storytelling, compelling ideas, and deep knowledge of the foibles of the scientific enterprise due to his career in biochemistry. For someone who wrote hundreds of books, one has to be selective, and this one should be lumped in with “I, Robot” and his Foundation series as among his best. P.S. The title comes from Shiller: Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain.

  11. 5 out of 5

    David Sarkies

    Asimov foresees the climate change debate 29 May 2012 The title of this book is a part of a longer title, which is used to split up the three sections of the book: Against Stupidity the Gods Themselves Contend in Vain'. I believe that that is actually an Ancient Greek saying, which is not surprising at all. Nope, as it turns out I am incorrect (thankyou Internet), it was in fact a saying of a German Poet named Friedrich von Schiller, but it is not the saying or the meaning of the saying that I re Asimov foresees the climate change debate 29 May 2012 The title of this book is a part of a longer title, which is used to split up the three sections of the book: Against Stupidity the Gods Themselves Contend in Vain'. I believe that that is actually an Ancient Greek saying, which is not surprising at all. Nope, as it turns out I am incorrect (thankyou Internet), it was in fact a saying of a German Poet named Friedrich von Schiller, but it is not the saying or the meaning of the saying that I really want to write about here, though I must admit that it is something that I can relate to because, in a way, it is true: even the gods themselves cannot deal with stupid people. This is the first Asimov book that I have read that deals with aliens, but then again Asimov never really wrote about aliens, and I suspect it is because he never really saw a need. His science-fiction explores ideas and concepts, ones that could be theoretically possible (such as the positronic brain, which is a device that allows robots to think, learn, and to grow) and it is quite possible that he saw aliens as being a little too speculative for his tastes. However, in this book we do have a taste of a non-human culture, and one cannot get more non-human than these aliens because they exist as three parts which at maturity come together to form a new entity. It is interesting because the middle section of the book, which deals with the aliens, has us follow one particular trinity to the point where they metamoph into the new form. The other interesting aspect of this book is about energy. Earth has discovered an infinite source of energy from a device known as an electron pump and it appears to be cheap, clean, and unlimited. However a scientist has discovered a flaw in the pump, in that quite subtly it is destroying the sun. However people either do not care, or simply write him off as a quack. The middle section is important though because it also deals with the electron pump and suggests that not only is the pump subtly destroying our universe, but it is destroying this second universe as well, and there is no way for them to be able to communicate with us to tell us what is happening. As I look back at this book I notice that the timing is quite impeccable simply because it was published at the beginning of the 70s, which was seen as the end of the twenty year bull market that began at the end of World War II, and the main reason for the end of this bull market was an event known as the oil shock. Up until this time, the United States believed that they had enough oil to last them for a very long time, when suddenly the tap was turned off by the Arabs (and that was namely due to the Israel problem). Suddenly they discovered that their almost unlimited supply was not as unlimited as they expected, and this sent shockwaves across the world. Yet in another was it is very prescient. Oil is our electron pump: it allows our society to function and without it we are in a lot of trouble. However, there are concerns being raised as to the effect of our dependence on oil and there are debates in the scientific community as to whether our over use of oil is destroying the planet (and I fall on the side of the argument saying that it is). In a way we are seeing the events in this novel being played out on the world stage as we speak. We are so dependant on oil that to suddenly stop using it would destroy our society however we cannot help but use it because we want our luxuries and there is no viable alternative (though since I wrote this there has been a significant increase in the use of renewable energy). Further, we consider that the problem is not ours and leave it for our children and our grandchildren to solve. One thing we should remember: we have only one Earth and if we don't look after it, then it does not matter how rich we are we are all in the same boat.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Manuel Antão

    If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review. Dua, Odeen, and Tritt: "The Gods Themselves" by Isaac Asimov "Mit der Dummheit kämpfen Götter selbst vergebens." Friedrich Schiller I admired it much more than I actually enjoyed it. Asimov's ideas are brilliant but his characters are somewhat bloodless and cardboard. Even when he tries to work against this it comes out all embarrassing. The third section on the moon is a pale imitation to Heinlein's 'Moon is a Harsh Mistress'. Given the If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review. Dua, Odeen, and Tritt: "The Gods Themselves" by Isaac Asimov "Mit der Dummheit kämpfen Götter selbst vergebens." Friedrich Schiller I admired it much more than I actually enjoyed it. Asimov's ideas are brilliant but his characters are somewhat bloodless and cardboard. Even when he tries to work against this it comes out all embarrassing. The third section on the moon is a pale imitation to Heinlein's 'Moon is a Harsh Mistress'. Given the timing on the publication that can't have been an accident.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Joy D

    "Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain." – Johann Christoph Friedrich von Schiller, The Maid of Orleans The overarching storyline involves a method by which matter is exchanged between our universe and a parallel universe, resulting in what at first appears to be an unlimited supply of free energy to both. The process has been initiated by otherworldly beings, but Dr. Hallam, a scientist from earth, takes credit for it, to great acclaim. Later, a lone dissenter, Dr. Lamont, believ "Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain." – Johann Christoph Friedrich von Schiller, The Maid of Orleans The overarching storyline involves a method by which matter is exchanged between our universe and a parallel universe, resulting in what at first appears to be an unlimited supply of free energy to both. The process has been initiated by otherworldly beings, but Dr. Hallam, a scientist from earth, takes credit for it, to great acclaim. Later, a lone dissenter, Dr. Lamont, believes the exchange may cause our sun to explode, but faces tremendous opposition from Hallam and those who are enjoying the unlimited free energy and don’t want to give it up. They say there is no proof of an upcoming explosion and dismiss Lamont as a crackpot. This is hard science fiction. In order to fully enjoy it, the reader will need to internalize the overall concept and follow the scientists’ trains of thought, and in order to do so, will need to have a certain level of interest in scientific detail. It does not require advanced knowledge of physics or chemistry, as the principles and processes are described in layman’s terms. For example, it references such topics as the Second Law of Thermodynamics, radioactive isotopes, electrons, protons, fusion, fission, electromagnetism, quarks, and the like. Here’s an example of what to expect: “We are faced with a substance, plutonium-186, that cannot exist at all, let alone as an even momentarily stable substance, if the natural laws of the Universe have any validity at all. It follows, then, that since it does indubitably exist and did exist as a stable substance to begin with, it must have existed, at least to begin with, in a place or at a time or under circumstances where the natural laws of the Universe were other than they are. To put it bluntly, the substance we are studying did not originate in our Universe at all, but in another—an alternate Universe—a parallel Universe. Call it what you want.” It is divided into three sections, which are related only by the overall story arc. Section 1 sets the stage, beginning in the year 2070. It shows how the universes interacted initially to establish the energy exchange, and how the rivalry between Hallam and Lamont developed. Section 2 is my personal favorite. It describes the lives of the beings in the para-universe, comprised of “hard ones” and “soft ones,” who have differing levels of ability to move through each other. The “soft ones” live in triads: one rational, one parental, and one emotional, who bond together in a reproductive process called melting to produce offspring. A “hard one” is assigned to each triad as a mentor. Dua, an emotional “soft one” is the protagonist of this section. She is an atypical emotional, and anyone that has ever felt “otherness” will easily identify with her. She brings up the ethical questions of what the energy exchange is doing to the two universes. Section 3 takes place on the moon, with one of Hallam’s discredited rivals, Dr. Dennison, doing research in conjunction with the Lunarites (humans born on the moon) to either prove or disprove Lamont’s hypothesis regarding whether or not the sun will explode. It provides an engaging picture of what life on the moon is like and how that proof is obtained. As with all great science fiction, it not only tells a great story, it imparts plenty of observations about our own time. People with power are not easily persuaded to release it, even for the greater good. People live in denial and engage in short-term thinking, even when the results could be disastrous. I’m thinking specifically of the climate change debate. I find it amazing that it was published so long ago (1972) and yet the themes are still very relevant.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jan-Maat

    Sometimes particularly when reading about Octopuses editing their DNA, giant fungi in the USA, or super Ant colonies I wonder why anyone ever bothered to write any science fiction - the variety and strangeness of actual life on earth seems to trump with ease the modest products of human imagination, perhaps that is precisely the point, the story is a way of controlling the world, of reducing its complexity to the manageable oddness of a novel. In this case if it looks too good to be true - it pro Sometimes particularly when reading about Octopuses editing their DNA, giant fungi in the USA, or super Ant colonies I wonder why anyone ever bothered to write any science fiction - the variety and strangeness of actual life on earth seems to trump with ease the modest products of human imagination, perhaps that is precisely the point, the story is a way of controlling the world, of reducing its complexity to the manageable oddness of a novel. In this case if it looks too good to be true - it probably is. Or as Montaigne asked, when I think I am playing with my cat, is my cat playing with me? The publication date is the same as the club of Rome's the Limits of Growth, a curious coincidence as both deal with the unexpectedly high cost of that free lunch we were all enjoying.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Ivana Books Are Magic

    I remember reading the first few sentence of this novel not being terribly impressed, not that I would ever considered giving up reading of one of HIS novel, but the descriptions of character seemed childish and I may have even though (blasphemy) there is something lacking there, but then I pulled myself together and told myself 'What do you know? This is Asimov. Have you ever read anything by Asimov that didn’t amaze you? Off course not. So shut up.' Anyhow, it didn’t take me long to become eng I remember reading the first few sentence of this novel not being terribly impressed, not that I would ever considered giving up reading of one of HIS novel, but the descriptions of character seemed childish and I may have even though (blasphemy) there is something lacking there, but then I pulled myself together and told myself 'What do you know? This is Asimov. Have you ever read anything by Asimov that didn’t amaze you? Off course not. So shut up.' Anyhow, it didn’t take me long to become engrossed in the story (all it took was a page or two). After the introduction of characters, the story takes off quickly and develops quite nicely. Without further ado, we find out what the problem is. The world might be destroyed. How dramatic! What is need is bravery and intelligence, for this is not the kind of crisis that is easy to resolve. The first part of the novel takes place on Earth in 22th century, where our protagonist Peter is trying to prove how and why using the revolutionary clean energy source i.e. Electron pump might destroy the world. The second part of the novel is placed in a parallel Universe and the third part (and the final part) of the novel is situated on the Moon. As for the science aspect of this book, it is brilliant. Not that I can vouch for it as a physicist, because I’m clearly not one, but the science part sounds absolutely logical, with the added plus of being wonderfully imaginative. The idea of parallel universe is masterfully handled. The narrative is easy to follow. I can’t say that there isn’t a dull moment in book, but I can say that for me there wasn’t one. Once I got over those opening paragraphs, I was absolutely amazed with the story, the setting and the characters. I enjoyed greately the philosophical,the psychological and the scientific aspect of the story. The novel itself is divided into three parts. They work well together and they made perfect sense to me. My personal favourite is the second part of the novel, it is the one that captivated me the most. I will touch up a bit on all three parts of the novel, trying my best to avoid spoilers. The first part: Against stupidity….. Mediocre scientist Hallam accidentally makes a great discovery. He is a predictable villain, one that doesn’t care about anything but himself. You might say that the writer created a character that is too one dimensional, but you know what? Some people are really like that. Anyway, Hallam’s sample get changed and after accusing a co-worker of pampering with it, he figures out that it might have been changed in a parallel universe. Here comes the “Electron Pump” and humanity gets free energy. How marvellous! I found that part pretty plausible and I liked the irony of a great scientific discovery occurring to someone who isn’t exactly brilliant but just lucky to find himself at the right place at the right time. Moreover, the fact that the human kind never dared to explore the parallel universe or try to find out how this contact with the parallel universe came to be…. now, that is something that I found even more convincing. Hallam gets his Nobel prize and all he wants to do now is to live off his fame. Who is it then that will to do something? Not the society. Not the government for every government is a living organism with a strong instinct for survival that will act with the sole purpose of defending itself (I’ve also been rereading Heinlein tonight- Stranger in a Strange World and I’m stealing his line). So, who is about to ask questions? Individualist. Physicist Peter Lamont makes the discovery that the Electron pump might destroy not just our world but the parallel one as well. Needless to say, the politicians and the man of science aren’t too anxious to hear Peter out. Wait a second! Shouldn’t man of science and the brightest minds of humankind be prepared to take dramatic actions to save the planet? Aren’t they the ones who will use their supreme intellect and won’t stand at nothing to save our planet? Think again. Yes, I found this part pretty believable. I won’t say anything else, because I don’t want to spoil it for you. What will Peter too? How will he save the world? How will he get attention? You will have to read to find out. I liked the first part a lot. I could relate to the protagonist and feel his frustration but I could also understand the others (by understand I don’t mean that I approved of people being people, not willing to be brave and think with their head but that I got it. We're all like that most of the time, content to live our lives and not willing to act with courage). Let’s face it. Human kind isn’t exactly famous for long term planning and getting rid of treats to our kind. So, that's the first part. That was some great science right there and the fiction part was darn good ! Fantastic news? It gets better. The second part: The Gods themselves….. Here comes my favourite part. Why? Because it presented beings in another universe that felt completely unique and different from us, yet it was possible to relate to them on many levels. Very few writers have succeeded in that. To create aliens that feel alien, but that you can still connect with. To create a whole society of aliens that feels real and unique is always a challange, but to create it and place a memorable set of characters who also happen to be the protagnists in an epic story. Now, that's something! This parallel world is inhabited by ‘hard’ ones and ‘cold one’. Hard ones appear to be teachers or mentors of the soft ones who are divided in 3 sexes. In the very beginning of the story, we get familiar with our protagonist Dua. Dua is a she (in a matter of speaking). You see the soft ones are divided into three genders:rationals (he pronoun), emotionals (she pronoun) and parentals(he pronoun). Together they form families. To simplify (perhaps too much) rationals are the intellectuals, emotionals are the intuitive ones and parentals take care of children. They can reproduce only by coming together in an unison. However, Dua is an independent spirit, the sort that most question everything and will hence set things into parallel universe into movement. Did I mention that the parallel universe is also in danger? But let get back to the characters. Dua forms a family with Odeen and Tritt and their family dynamics is very interesting to observe. I absolutely love the characterization of them as individuals and as a part of a family. The exploration of the genre identity in this one was brilliant. The narrative flows effortlessly, the story pick up right where it stopped in part two and it proceeded to the part three. When we think of ourselves limited by our biology, by that physical aspect, we don’t think of what another being in another (material) universe might be facing. Possibly the same thing. We each in our own way have to struggle to overcome our biological impulses and that doesn’t mean ignoring them (for a creature can’t ignore eating for example), but seeing the bigger picture and developing a sophistication of spirit. The third part: Contend in Vain? I can’t really say too much about the narrative part three because I don’t want to ruin this read to you. In fact, I think it is best I refrain from mentioning who the protagonist is or what happens on the Moon. All I’m going to say is that there is a new set of protagonist and that I find it to be a satisfying conclusion to the novel. Getting the story out of the way, I can say something about the setting because to do so won’t be really giving too much away. Asimov created another memorable setting. The moon is inhabited by good-looking and highly intelligent people (supposedly because it was originally populated by scientists) and its society is very different from that on Earth. Being able to theorize and create new cultures and worlds to contrast our own is one of the best things about SF. It was quite a joy seeing Asimov’s version of this new society. It made me think of Heinlein, his short stories and naturally The Luna is a a Harsh Mistress novel. It is interesting how well the narrative worked its way through different settings and universes. The science aspect of this book was fascinating, but the fiction part was just as fabulous. To develop so many characters and yet to find a place for them all, to manage to make them all an integral part of the story is quite an accomplishment! The characterization was pretty good, I found all the protagonists quite convincingly and well written. There is no much soul- searching (except in Dua’s case) and novel doesn’t go into great depth in that sense. There is linear switching between the settings and the protagonists so it is not hard to follow. If you have a strong preferance for a solo protagonist, you might be put off by that. To whom would I recommend this book? To Asimov's fans and lovers of science fiction obviously. Is it a good introduction to Asimov? I'm not sure, it was not my first read, I was already a fan of his when I picked this one. However, if you want to read an Asimov's book that is not part of a series, try this one. It is set in future, but it is not an integral part of any of his series and it can be read on its own. It is said that it was the author's favourite and I can certainly see why. There is something optimistic about it, I feel that at its core it brings a message of hope. Receiving such a message in a form of intelligent writing is always good, right? This novel made me believe that we should always do our best and try our hardest, I know it sounds cheesy but so it is. Despite it being quite entertaining, The Gods Themselves is actually a very profound story and it did make me think a great deal about gender, identity, politics, morality, society and the individual.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Bradley

    *sigh* Some books should remain fond memories. I'm dropping a star on the re-read. Enjoying the insistence of intuitionalism doesn't make up for the abysmally uninteresting aliens or the 1970's culturally-locked ideas surrounding smart human women and smart alien women. It was actually pretty groan-worthy. As for the actual story idea, I enjoyed the extrapolation of a modified natural law and the SF conversation Asimov was having with Silverberg, but it turns out that a tiny handful of ideas isn' *sigh* Some books should remain fond memories. I'm dropping a star on the re-read. Enjoying the insistence of intuitionalism doesn't make up for the abysmally uninteresting aliens or the 1970's culturally-locked ideas surrounding smart human women and smart alien women. It was actually pretty groan-worthy. As for the actual story idea, I enjoyed the extrapolation of a modified natural law and the SF conversation Asimov was having with Silverberg, but it turns out that a tiny handful of ideas isn't enough to carry the novel. I'm a firm believer in truly excellent characters and story. As this novel is, it's more of a thinly-veiled science instructional tidied up with a few SF tropes and a single good Science Idea mixed with a single good cultural/mental/personal Idea. I like intuition. I love it, even. Asimov does, too. Bravo. Moving on. Destruction of two universes feeding off each other. Sound cool? It is. But even Lensman did it better than this. :) Alas, this is NOT Asimov's best work. Foundation is much better and I had a grand lot of fun with the Robot books. This one is Far down that list, and I'm sad. I can't believe this made a Hugo. 1972 must have been a very lean year.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Jason Pettus

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. (Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [cclapcenter.com]. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted here illegally.) The CCLaP 100: In which I read for the first time a hundred so-called "classic" books, then write reports on whether or not they deserve the label Book #12: The Gods Themselves, by Isaac Asimov (1972) The story in a nutshell: Originally published as three interrelated novellas in magazine form, Isaac Asi (Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [cclapcenter.com]. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted here illegally.) The CCLaP 100: In which I read for the first time a hundred so-called "classic" books, then write reports on whether or not they deserve the label Book #12: The Gods Themselves, by Isaac Asimov (1972) The story in a nutshell: Originally published as three interrelated novellas in magazine form, Isaac Asimov's 1972 The Gods Themselves is a "hard science-fiction" tale in every sense of the term; so look out, because things are about to get a little complicated... Set in the year 2100, part 1 starts with a prickly and arrogant scientist named Frederick Hallam, who accidentally discovers one day that someone has swapped a dusty old test tube of congealed tungsten in his lab for what appears to be a beaker full of plutonium-186, apparently as a practical joke...except for the fact that plutonium-186 should theoretically not be able to actually exist in our universe. And indeed, after lots of testing and theorizing, the scientific community determines that the mysterious plutonium is actually the work of a parallel universe (or "para-universe" as they call it), one filled with people either smarter than us or more evolutionarily advanced, who have figured out how to "pump" such material into our own universe in the hope (presumably) that we will pump tungsten back to them, thus creating a form of free energy for both worlds based on the nuclear reactions these elements have in their unnatural environments. The remainder of part 1, then, concerns the growing conflict between the now Nobel-winning Hallam (who is desperately trying to hide the fact that he doesn't understand how any of this actually works) and another young physicist named Lamont, who has become convinced that this energy exchange spells the doom of our universe, even while leaving this theoretical para-universe in fine shape (in fact, maybe even better than before if our sun just happens to go supernova, which Lamont is convinced more and more will exactly happen the longer we let this "electron pump" run). In part 2, then, we suddenly shift to this para-universe only talked about in theory during part 1; and it is indeed a strange place, a planet that appears to actually have two different forms of intelligent life, so-called "Hard Ones" (their equivalent of humans) and also what they call "Soft Ones" (eight-foot-tall gelatinous amoebas, who through the different laws of physics in this para-universe actually exist in only a semi-solid form, so that they "eat" by directly absorbing nutrients from sunlight and "have sex" by basically melting into each other). The plot of part 2 is much too difficult to summarize here; but let's just say that it takes a detailed look at one of the three-member "family units" of this Soft society (a Rational, an Emotional, and a Parental), and their growing realization not only about what adult life has in store for them in the near future, not only what the relationship is between their species and the advanced Hard Ones, but also the fact that what Lamont in part 1 theorized is actually true, that this energy exchange actually does threaten to cause a supernova on the Earth side, and that the para-universe of their own side would actually benefit if such a thing were to happen. (WARNING: The next paragraph reveals important information about the end of this book.) In part 3, then, we switch back to our universe but again travel to a strange society, Asimov's version of what a permanent Moon population might be like a century after breaking off from Earth culture (which is exotic, sexy and highly titillating, by the way -- imagine an entire populace who because of selective breeding all look vaguely like the love-child of Angelina Jolie and Tiger Woods, who foster an environment of casual nudity and even more casual sex partners, and who also happen on average to be twice as intelligent as the average 'Earthie' as well, because of it being mostly scientists and artists who initially flocked to the Moon in the first place). To tell you the truth, Asimov seems more interested in part 3 in simply detailing what kind of society such a populace might produce, and all the ways it would be so much better than contemporary Earth society; it seems like only an afterthought near the end that one of these people actually comes up with a way to avert the looming crisis being talked about throughout the manuscript, by tapping into yet another para-universe that is in its pre-Big-Bang phase, thus offsetting the massive amounts of nuclear energy that the first para-universe has been pumping into our own. (Spoilers finished!) The argument for it being a classic: Of all the writers in the so-called "Golden Age" of science-fiction, fans say, none were quite as important as Isaac Asimov; he brought to the genre all the mainstream respect of an Arthur C Clarke, the audacity of a Robert Heinlein, the prolific nature of a Ray Bradbury, and an enthusiasm usually only seen in fanboys. (For example, for those who don't know, Asimov actually published over 500 books while he was alive, and is the only person in human history to have books published in nine of the ten major divisions of the Dewey Decimal system.) So how do you even begin to start picking what might possibly be considered the "best" out of all this? Well, in this particular case, the argument goes that you start with outside sources; because of all the books Asimov ever wrote, The Gods Themselves was the only one to win both the Hugo and Nebula awards in the same year (a pretty big feat unto itself, in that these are competing organizations), a standalone book that you can simply read and enjoy on its own, unlike the vast majority of Asimov's best-known works that in one way or another always seem to be part of some giant 75-book series that you will never get caught up with before you freaking die. There might be specific books of Asimov's that are better in nature than The Gods Themselves, but only if you take them in context with a whole group of pieces published both before and after them; if you're looking for a single manuscript, though, that plainly shows why people go so nuts about his work, you could do a lot worse than to pick this one. The argument against: As you can tell, the main argument against this being a classic is that it simply isn't his best work; that it won all the awards it did mostly because it came late in Asimov's life, at a point when the community suddenly wanted to start recognizing him in a way they never had when he was younger. And besides, critics of the novel would reluctantly argue, Asimov was actually at his best back in the squeaky-clean times of the Modernist '50s and '60s; that he was already approaching old-man status even by the 1970s, and did not transition into that looser, sexually freer era nearly as well as such young SF authors at the time like Philip K Dick, Robert Zelazny and Ursula Le Guin. Asimov should certainly be considered in the "classic" realm of SF, most everyone will agree to by now; just that The Gods Themselves might not be the best one to add to the canon, some would say, but rather one of the series of books he is better known for at this point. My verdict: So let me freely confess off the bat that this is something like the 30th book of Asimov's I've now read, so am in a position to judge both his standalone work and his never-ending long series of books. And that's what makes my reaction to The Gods Themselves so frustrating too, because I can understand and empathize with both of the attitudes described above; it is in fact a great introduction to Asimov's work, and also a letdown to those who become bigger and more obsessive fans. And as a matter of fact, this is a persistent problem with all genre work when it comes to talking about "classic" examples, of books that non-fans can read to understand why fans become fans; because that's the nature of genre work, that you become an obsessive fan in the first place by reading and enjoying an entire series of books by a particular author, not simply by plucking one single book out of the fray with no historical context whatsoever. To truly love Asimov, I and other obsessive fanboys would say, what you really need to do is read the remarkable 15-book series he wrote over the course of his life that detailed the next ten thousand years of human history: the "Robot" series (set in the near future, as humans expand into neighboring galaxies for the first time), "Empire" series (in which all these now-mature galaxies go to war with each other), and "Foundation" series (regarding the next stage of human evolution, set thousands of years from now). But that's a ridiculous amount of books for a mere casual fan to take on; hence the constant struggle like today to find a single book of Asimov's that can stand as the best self-contained example of his work. This is always the biggest challenge with Golden Age science-fiction authors, to tell you the truth; that since they were such prolific writers, working in a genre that was still widely considered a minor pulpish one when they were alive, their work is usually best considered when looked at as a whole, not as a sum of its parts. It's always something to keep in mind while reading Asimov's work, as well as any other SF writer from the 1950s and '60s. Is it a classic? Yes

  18. 4 out of 5

    Brian

    Another "one off" from a major sci-fi master. Totally unrelated to any of his other stories, this one is a mind-bender. A trans-universal thriller in which everything depends upon a near-impossible cooperation between physicists here on earth, and beings in another existence so alien and bizarre it disrupts your basic understanding of what it might mean to be alive and conscious. Bonus: alien "marriage" and reproduction so inventive it's not even sexy. But it is kind of sweet, and romantic in its Another "one off" from a major sci-fi master. Totally unrelated to any of his other stories, this one is a mind-bender. A trans-universal thriller in which everything depends upon a near-impossible cooperation between physicists here on earth, and beings in another existence so alien and bizarre it disrupts your basic understanding of what it might mean to be alive and conscious. Bonus: alien "marriage" and reproduction so inventive it's not even sexy. But it is kind of sweet, and romantic in its way. Caveat: I read this when I was pretty young, and my mind was more easily blown, but I still rank it as an all-time favorite. Fascinating and challenging ideas.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Breinholt Dorrough

    Asimov certainly plots his tales well. Most of his books I've read, this included, consist of a couple interrelated novellas as opposed to a single story - yet Asimov weaves the overall story together masterfully. The first section is a wonderful portrayal of how academia really works, the second section will have your chin on the floor the entire time, and the third section ties in all the details with (virtually) a whole new cast. The second section is so imaginative it would be simply unfilmabl Asimov certainly plots his tales well. Most of his books I've read, this included, consist of a couple interrelated novellas as opposed to a single story - yet Asimov weaves the overall story together masterfully. The first section is a wonderful portrayal of how academia really works, the second section will have your chin on the floor the entire time, and the third section ties in all the details with (virtually) a whole new cast. The second section is so imaginative it would be simply unfilmable. You can't make a movie out of this one.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Scott Sigler

    Loved this book! I adore science but don't have the mental horsepower to grok advanced physics. This book explores the concept of multiple universes via the drama of two sets of characters, one set in our universe, one in another where the rules of physics are different. Asimov uses the different laws of physics to set up a cool conceit that first promises unlimited energy for all, then threatens to destroy all existence. He worked hard to create a truly alien alien race, but uses conversational Loved this book! I adore science but don't have the mental horsepower to grok advanced physics. This book explores the concept of multiple universes via the drama of two sets of characters, one set in our universe, one in another where the rules of physics are different. Asimov uses the different laws of physics to set up a cool conceit that first promises unlimited energy for all, then threatens to destroy all existence. He worked hard to create a truly alien alien race, but uses conversational English dialogue to show us how much this race is like ourselves in the need for love, safety and procreation. It is, however, a bit long-winded. The explorations of the alien culture went more than a bit long for my tastes. It'd say that's my only ding on it. Scott Brick did the narration. His voice seems a perfect fit for old-school scifi.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Stephen

    4.0 to 4.5 stars. Along with "The End of Eternity" Asimov's best non "Robot" or "Foundation" novel. Winner: Hugo Award Best Science Fiction Novel (1973) Winner: Nebula Award Best Science Fiction Novel (1973) Winner: Locus Award Best Science Fiction Novel (1973) Voted to 1998 Locus List of "All Time Best" Science Fiction Novels (Pre 1990)

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jim

    A good foreword by Asimov. It's can be fun to find out the inspiration for a story & since this one involved Silverberg, another giant in the SF genre, that was even better. The basic premise is good, too. Actually, it might be great, especially the way he leverages it to show the realities & politics behind science & society. It's easy to see where a catch 22 can & would develop. Unfortunately, the narrative & characters are so flat that I kept zoning out. I didn't like any of the characters & t A good foreword by Asimov. It's can be fun to find out the inspiration for a story & since this one involved Silverberg, another giant in the SF genre, that was even better. The basic premise is good, too. Actually, it might be great, especially the way he leverages it to show the realities & politics behind science & society. It's easy to see where a catch 22 can & would develop. Unfortunately, the narrative & characters are so flat that I kept zoning out. I didn't like any of the characters & the story advanced ponderously. It was just stupefying, even with everything it had going for it.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Clarence Reed

    ReedIII Quick Review: This is a very good true science fiction novel heavy on theoretical physics without detracting from three perfectly linked stories. “What if we could access a parallel universe where the laws of physics were just a little different?” Final third weakest and could have been eliminated.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Silvana

    Maybe one of my favorite Asimov novels but mostly for 2/3 of it. I am too confused to rate it as a whole, so I'll just use the average. Part I: excellent and amusing scientific debate a la Asimov. 4 stars. Part II: heart-wrenching, beautiful story of three-gendered aliens. 5 stars. Part III: typical Golden Era of SF when it comes to the featured female character. But what's worse is that the dialogues and plot are not as good as the other parts. 1.5 stars. So, average 3.5 stars rounded down to 3 sin Maybe one of my favorite Asimov novels but mostly for 2/3 of it. I am too confused to rate it as a whole, so I'll just use the average. Part I: excellent and amusing scientific debate a la Asimov. 4 stars. Part II: heart-wrenching, beautiful story of three-gendered aliens. 5 stars. Part III: typical Golden Era of SF when it comes to the featured female character. But what's worse is that the dialogues and plot are not as good as the other parts. 1.5 stars. So, average 3.5 stars rounded down to 3 since there are four star books I enjoyed more than this one. Should I read more his novels? I read I, Robot, the first Foundation book, the first Robot series, and this one. Compared to other authors in his era, his writing is more enjoyable to me.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    One thing I always have to remind myself when it comes to reading Asimov is that even though I've seen some of his ideas and concepts before in other author's works, that Asimov was in many ways a pioneer in the field at the time he wrote. The Gods Themselves is no exception to that rule. Yes, there are elements in this novel that others have done but none of them really as well as Asimov. There are others here who have explained the premise of this novel far better than I could and without givi One thing I always have to remind myself when it comes to reading Asimov is that even though I've seen some of his ideas and concepts before in other author's works, that Asimov was in many ways a pioneer in the field at the time he wrote. The Gods Themselves is no exception to that rule. Yes, there are elements in this novel that others have done but none of them really as well as Asimov. There are others here who have explained the premise of this novel far better than I could and without giving away little nuggets of information that could, quite possibly ruin the narrative. Needless to say, Asimov does well with the science and consequences of the situation. What is lacking in the novel are characters of much depth and interest. Many of the players are one-dimensional and rarely break out of that mold. Asimov has shown he can write memorable and entertaining characters who have some depth (Bailey and R. Daneel Olivaw are two that spring to mind). However, here Asimov seems to fall too much in love with the science of what he is trying to explain rather than having interesting characters in the mix. Which takes away from an otherwise flawless novel. Certainly this book is recommended. It's just not my favorite Asimov.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Spiro

    Who knew that a novel written in 1972 could touch on global warming, woman empowerment, lax views on different sexual orientations, and foreign policy...all with very pristine and at times technically beautiful scientific writing. Some of my favorite quotes from this year come from this book: "Now then, young man, don't ask me to stop the Pumping. The economy and comfort of the entire planet depend on it. Tell me, instead, how to keep the Pumping from exploding the Sun." "There are no happy endings Who knew that a novel written in 1972 could touch on global warming, woman empowerment, lax views on different sexual orientations, and foreign policy...all with very pristine and at times technically beautiful scientific writing. Some of my favorite quotes from this year come from this book: "Now then, young man, don't ask me to stop the Pumping. The economy and comfort of the entire planet depend on it. Tell me, instead, how to keep the Pumping from exploding the Sun." "There are no happy endings in history, only crisis points that pass" This book should be turned into a play.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Olivia

    I heard good things about The Gods Themselves. It won a Hugo, Nebula and Locus award for best novel in 1973. The premise is a delight for the hard science fiction fan: In the twenty-second century Earth obtains limitless, free energy from a source science little understands: an exchange between Earth and a parallel universe, using a process devised by the aliens. Of course there's a catch. There's always a catch. It's a short and interesting read with believable aliens, who have a fascinating way I heard good things about The Gods Themselves. It won a Hugo, Nebula and Locus award for best novel in 1973. The premise is a delight for the hard science fiction fan: In the twenty-second century Earth obtains limitless, free energy from a source science little understands: an exchange between Earth and a parallel universe, using a process devised by the aliens. Of course there's a catch. There's always a catch. It's a short and interesting read with believable aliens, who have a fascinating way of structuring their families. It didn't wow me, but I'm glad I read it. I recommend this book to all science fiction fans who either want to read more Asimov, or more classic SF.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Muhaimeen

    Starting was kind of interesting. But then it got boring. Also the ending is not so appealing.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Tallise

    One of Asimov's must reads. The story could be cut into 3 distinct parts, the FIRST part had very interesting mystery and conflict and drew his characters quite well. I enjoyed it. The SECOND part made the book difficult to put down, a very unique/difficult type of character was portrayed here and Mr. Asimov did a wonderful job giving life to them. I strongly felt this was my favorite part and sympathized greatly. I also found my self betting the pages what would be the conflict resolution, and th One of Asimov's must reads. The story could be cut into 3 distinct parts, the FIRST part had very interesting mystery and conflict and drew his characters quite well. I enjoyed it. The SECOND part made the book difficult to put down, a very unique/difficult type of character was portrayed here and Mr. Asimov did a wonderful job giving life to them. I strongly felt this was my favorite part and sympathized greatly. I also found my self betting the pages what would be the conflict resolution, and though I was right (it wasn't too hard to guess) I still felt an intense drama leading to it and didn't want his words to end. The THIRD part, I regret to say, was boring and a drag through to the end. It was interesting in how he described life in this environment, however, I simply felt it was empty. The whole story (as you discover within the first few pages) is a reference to our world's dependence on fossil fuels and global warming. The idea that we would do anything, including willful ignorance/denial of destroying our entire planet/universe beyond repair for the sake of comfort.

  30. 5 out of 5

    spikeINflorida

    This supposed SF classic is too much talk and not enough walk. The characters are wooden, dry, and boooring.The Foundation and Robot trilogies had their high points...but sadly I came to the same conclusion with those novels as well. Please don't hate me, but IMHO...Isac Asimov is simply overated. The legendary Arthur C. Clarke blows this guy's pages right off the spine.

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