Celebrating nearly a half century of the work of Isaac Asimov, this volume contains eleven recent short stories, including his popular “The Bicentennial Man,” as well as the impromptu poem “Prime of Life” (otherwise known as “I’m in the Prime of Life, You Rotten Kid!”) and the never-filmed scenario, “Waterclap.”

Together with these stories by the grand master in his autobiographical commentary on them. They reveal not only his great storytelling wizardry but his profound understanding of our times…and future as well.

Appearing originally in publications ranging from the New York Times (its first science fiction tale ever published!) to the former If magazine (its last!), with themes leading from Women’s Liberation to “Feminine Intuition,” from the Bicentennial to “Death at the Tercentennial,” and from mathematical games to life-and-death struggles, these short stories examine the Asimovian landscape with typical wit and understanding.

Were it not for the presence of the title story and “The Prime of Life,” this would be a spectacularly unspectacular collection.

This is not to say that none of the other stories have any merit. “…That Thou Art Mindful of Him” is an interesting twist on the Three Laws, and “Feminine Intuition” is a solid Susan Calvin story. Most of the other stories, however, are distinctly sub-par for Asimov (“Waterclap,” “Stranger in Paradise,” “The Winnowing,” “The Tercentenary Incident”) and some are sub-sub-par (“Birth of a Notion,” “Marching In”).

The Bicentennial Man,” however, is a spectacular piece of work, well-deserving its Hugo and place as Asimov’s third-favorite of his own stories. Were it not that this particular story was anthologized to death by Asimov after being written and can therefore be found in several collections of considerably more merit than this one, it would be worth the price of the book to own it alone. However, it was anthologized to death and can be found in several collections of more merit than this, so only the truly avid collector would find any need to own this particular anthology.

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