I recently read Asimov’s Robot Series, and in the fly-leaf of the last book is a list of all his books. Since it was published in the 80’s and he died in ’92, it was a pretty comprehensive list. I was surprised to realize that I’ve read well more than half his fiction works, and most of his longer works.
I’ve noticed over the years that there isn’t any one genre that I like inherantly. It’s really good authors that get me. I don’t really like westerns, yet anyone who knows me knows that I really get into Louis L’Amour. In fantasy, I really like Tolkien, Robin McKinley, and David Eddings. In sci-fi, it’s Asimov.
I don’t really read any other sci-fi than Asimov. I’ve tried a good bit, but it generally doesn’t have the right flavor. Maybe I’m biased. Who knows?
Why do I like his stuff? Probably because it’s so varied. He has action stories, science stories, and sociological stories. The Robot series is primarily sociological. It’s almost like the mysteries are there just to give a platform for the discussion of over-population, under-population, casual sex, and the implications of those things to humanity. Yet the Empire series has a great deal more espionage, lasers, and general space exploration.
Many of his short stories are mysteries. He’s a master of the 5 minute mystery, where we’re presented with the problem, and then walked through an incredible solution.
He’s also a master at coming up with scenarios in which to put mankind, and then coming up with perfectly plausable outcomes. In Nightfall, a version of humanity lives on a planet with enough suns that it’s never dark, with one exception. Every thousand years, they get one night, in which they can see the stars. There are all kinds of theological explanations for what these things calles “stars” are, and most people don’t really believe that the world will end, nor even that “night” even exists. Yet, night does come, and the world does end. It ends because humanity is not prepared for the realization that space is that big, or that dark can be that dark, and they turn into a crazed mob, and burn everything.
So in the future, when I do a review, I’ll probably categorize the book as more action-y, sociological, or scientific. You’ve been warned.
UPDATE I have to say, by FAR the most entertaining Asimov I’ve ever read is his commentary in and around his stories. It’s a picture of the man, and a man I would dearly have loved to chat through dinner with. In the intro to The Best Of Isaac Asimov, he says
“Who is to say which stories are the best? Some may be shocked to find that their favorite story has been left out, and still others may cry out in amazment ‘Good heavens, this is his best?!?'”
That’s just really funny to me.