A Day Late and a Credit Short

Asimov’s 92nd birthday was celebrated the world over yesterday, and now that we’re all recovered from our hangovers and/or sugar rushes, I thought I should do what I ought to have done yesterday and provide a recommended reading list for the post-birthday celebrations.

Book 92. The Dark Ages. Having written numerous books on ancient history, Asimov for the first time turns to what happened in Western Europe after the collapse of the Western Roman Empire. Excellent.

Book 184. How Did We Find Out About Outer Space. Not bad for a science juvenile, but best read only if you’re in a hurry for something.

Book 276. Starships. A decent science fiction anthology but really Asimov-related. Feel free to skip it.

Book 368. How Did We Find Out About the Brain?. Like its cousin above, unobjectionable and short.

Book 460. The Mammoth Book of Vintage Science Fiction. This is the longest but probably the best of the lot overall. Asimov-wise, it’s only notable for including “The Martian Way,” but it’s a nice excuse to read (or reread) the whole book.

It’s harder to pin things down with the short stories, because there isn’t an official order, but roughly speaking (and assuming I’m doing this correctly), the choices would be “Gimmicks Three,” “Party by Satellite,” “The One Thing Lacking,” and “To Your Health.” None of these are major Asimov (although three of them do get two spaceship-and-suns), and unfortunately none is terribly easy to find these days. Unfortunately, “Party by Satellite” is the only one available as an ebook (from Fictionwise), and it is by far the worst of the lot.

Hopefully by 2 January 2013, I’ll have gone through Ed Seiler’s Asimov Online site and have determined the correct F&SF essays to read in celebration of Asimov’s 93d birthday. Meanwhile, you may as well go ahead and just read them all. You’ll thank yourself in the morning.

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