This new collection of essays by America’s preeminent expositor of science ranges over the author’s famously wide spectrum of interests, from the scientific to the fanciful, from the historical to the futuristic.

In this volume, Asimov takes on many of today’s most controversial issues—Star Wars, nuclear power, the creation-evolution debate—with the flair, verve, and mastery that have won him millions of readers. He also includes many essays written in a personal vein, such as a humorous account of his triple-bypass surgery an the story of his “Hollywood Non-Career.”

On a grand tour of the years ahead, including “Living on the Moon,” “2084,” “Should We Fear the Computer?” and “The New Learning,” Asimov presents a future that is thrilling, fearsome, and, as he insists, our present responsibility.

Past, Present, and Future is as delightful and informal as it is argumentative and challenging. Several of these essays are published here for the first time.

There are no real surprises in this non-F&SF essay collection, but it does represent a good compendium of Asimov’s thought from the 1970’s and 1980’s— a period of time, in particular, when he was very concerned with the conservative swing American society was appearing to take. The result here is a number of essays, some very pointed or bitter, denouncing the limitations of this conservative world-view. (I think, too, that as Asimov got older and more worn out from fighting the same fights endlessly, he got a bit more bitter about some of them.)

So although there’s nothing really new in terms of Asimov’s presentation of science here, there are some interesting and, I think, important insights into Asimov’s thinking, and so I give the book a rather guarded recommendation.

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