Another view of Robert L. Forward and his reversing machine.

At a “Science Fiction with Isaac Asimov” weekend at the Monhonk Mountain House early in 1987, Asimov read his story “Left to Right” as part of his opening remarks—or, rather, he read most of it. He omitted the ending, and teams of participants were challenged to come up with their own endings in competition for various prizes including a chance for their ending to be published in Analog. The winning entry was composed by a team that called itself “Volans,” but they insisted that one of their members, Harrison Roth, take full writing credit. The resulting story—first two-thirds Asimov, final third Roth—was published in the Probability Zero feature in the July 1987 issue of Analog as “Left to Right, and Beyond.”

I get the feeling that Roth’s entry won because it has not one, but two linguistic jokes at Asimov’s expense (plus other assorted gags). Otherwise, it borders on the incoherent and is hardly an improvement on the original. This is not necessarily to find fault with Roth’s work, because the gags are clever, and I rather doubt I would have done better—but the result is not really a story for which I can build the slightest enthusiasm to re-read.

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