We are not alone. Beyond planet Earth there are other planets and universes to be explored, to amaze, and to fascinate us. Their variety and diversity are endless, and, for an imaginative person, the chance to visualize and order other worlds offers rich and dazzling opportunities. For the creative mind of Isaac Asimov these possibilities produced a cornucopia of stories and novels, collected here in Other Worlds of Isaac Asimov. Asimov’s Foundation series and his Robot series are extremely popular, and they tend to overshadow his non-series stories, a situation now rectified by this fascinating collection. Gathered by Martin H. Greenberg in one comprehensive volume, these too-often neglected works include complete novels and twelve stories that show the varied worlds created by this most prolific of authors, in all their intricacy, humor, and ingenuity.

The first novel, The Gods Themselves, which won both the Hugo and Nebula awards, is Isaac Asimov’s favorite science fiction novel. This novel is followed by twelve short stories [sic]: “C-Chute,” “The Dead Past,” “Hostess,” “In a Good Cause—,” “The Key,” “Lest We Remember,” “The Martian Way,” “Nightfall,” “Profession,” “Sucker Bait,” “The Ugly Little Boy,” and “Youth.” Concluding the collection is another novel, The End of Eternity, a tale of time travel in which Asimov explores a number of paradoxes while still maintaining a very plausible plot.

Readers will be delighted to find these works colected for the first time in one volume. Newcomers to the works of Isaac Asimov will enjoy exploring fourteen unique worlds, which can only whet their appetites for Asimov’s more famou series worlds. Loyal readers will appreciate the easy access that Other Worlds of Isaac Asimov provides for these classic stories and novels.

This is a book which badly needed to be done—and was done badly.

Like the later The Asimov Chronicles, this book was actually edited by the indefatigable Martin Greenberg. Here the schtick is that a number of Asimov fans know his robot and Foundation books very well indeed—but not the rest of his science fiction. Asimov and Greenberg therefore decided to assemble a collection of Asimov’s best sf not set in the robot/Foundation “world” (hence the title).

Mistake one was to include novels, namely The Gods Themselves and The End of Eternity. I’m not objecting to the selection, mind, just the fact that the book includes the entire text of two novels. Something like that tends to kill paperback publication and hence limit the circulation of an anthology whose raison d’être is to bring some of Asimov’s less well-known works into broader circulation.

Moreover, the book was published by Avenel Books, a distinctly obscure publisher (have you ever heard of them?), which further limits circulation. And, to add insult to injury, Avenel put out a cheap edition—within the first decade of its life, the paper in my copy was badly yellowed and aging even as I watched. Again, that tends to subvert the purpose of the book.

Other than that, it’s an excellent anthology. With the exception of “Lest We Remember,” and with the understanding that it only includes novelettes and no short stories (hence leaving out, for example, “The Last Question” and “The Feeling of Power”), there’s nothing here that isn’t excellent and well worth rereading.

Indeed, there’s a particular bonus: the Galaxy version of “Hostess.” The editor of Galaxy, Horace L. Gold, forced Asimov to edit “Hostess” to change its mental parasites into pseudo-genes to avoid a thematic conflict with a story by Ted Sturgeon. Gold also altered the ending. Asimov generally restored “Hostess” to the pre-edit form when he reprinted it in his own books, this being an exception. (Strangely, Asimov never restored his original ending.)

This is a good book. One just wishes it were all wrapped up in a nicer package.

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