Cover of The Science Fiction of Isaac Asimov
  Joseph F. Patrouch, Jr. 1974
3 spaceships-and-suns
Asimov fan
3 spaceships-and-suns
Target reader


In this authoritative and stimulating survey of Asimov’s science fiction, the reader is offered a unique insight into the themes, stories, characters and settings that have enthralled millions of people for over thirty years. In a clear, easy-to-read style, the author investigates every aspect of the Master’s works from the early short stories, through the Robot Stories, the Foundation Series, the Lucky Starr novels, right up to and including The Gods Themselves.

The Science Fiction of Isaac Asimov is not only a thorough and illuminating analysis of Asimov the writer, but a rare and exciting glimpse of the man behind the words.

This is the great grand-daddy of books of Asimovian literary criticism. One of the earliest books to be devoted to analysis of Asimov’s fiction, it is still one of the best.

Patrouch approaches the subject as a fan who wants to analyze Asimov’s writing techniques in order to understand how better to write himself. He sees the strengths of Asimov’s work but also looks carefully at the flaws.

All of Asimov’s fiction through The Gods Themselves is covered, with the exception of a number of short stories which are (rightly) characterized as throw-aways.

Patrouch has a light prose style not entirely unlike Asimov’s own and reads very well. His analyses are thorough and insightful, and the book generally free of errors. (But not completely free of errors: He muffs the plot of “Kid Stuff,” for example.)

I don’t always agree with his assessments of individual stories, of course. It would be surprising if I did—but that’s immaterial. Patrouch covers more of Asimov’s fiction than anybody else and covers it at least as well. Even when I disagree, I find the reasons for disagreement well-presented and worth mulling over.

The main drawback of the book is that it is so old that it misses out on “The Bicentennial Man” and the later novels. One would like to urge Patrouch to write an updated version that rounds things off.

This is a delightful book. No Asimov scholar should be without a copy.

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