Book Review: Gold by Issac Asimov

Gold: The Final Science Fiction CollectionGold: The Final Science Fiction Collection by Isaac Asimov
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Read for the Genre Non-Fiction and the Collections! Reading Challenges.

This collection represents the last batch of stuff that Isaac Asimov gave to us. Half of it is stories, and the other half is a collection of essays about science fiction and writing in general that he produced, mostly as editor of some of the most legendary sci-fi magazines ever. As a result, it qualified for both a short story collections reading challenge and a genre-related non-fic challenge that I was doing, and I counted it for both.

This is going to be a short review because, in a nutshell, you can see why Asimov remains a legend. He was a master of his craft, and this writing spanned the breadth of his illustrious, long career.

I enjoyed his non-fiction writing immensely. He was a thoughtful, intelligent man with a self-deprecating, dry wit that I think tickles my Canadian sense of humour especially well. He was also capable of doing a great thing that I admire in intellectuals; he was capable of thinking harder about an issue and then changing his mind! Asimov is somewhat infamous for having directly contributed, for example, to the stereotype against women writing sci-fi. In one of these essays he apologizes and confesses that this view was mostly was the result of having been told this by people he admired when he was still a young writer, and he clearly begins to change his approach, including his use of pronouns in the course of these ongoing essays. I learned an amazing amount about the genre and its evolution through his eyes.

The short stories were like reading liquid light. I had forgotten, since it’s been a while since I’d read Asimov, what an amazing storyteller he could be. As a reader, I felt his prose flowed like magic. His stories were all page-turners that left me feeling satisfied, whether it was a light snack (there’s a couple of three-page stories) to a full meal deal (Gold, the title story).

And as a writer, I know enough about the craft to recognize the technical minutiae of his style and the way he told his stories, and I think I learned some things by watching this master at work that might help me to write better short stories.

Why did it take me so long to read it? I started with the non-fiction, and I tend to read non-fiction in snippets, and also the book was misplaced for a while. When I got into the fiction, I couldn’t put it down. Don’t think the long reading time is in any way a comment on its quality!

A must for anyone who considers themselves a sci-fi fan, and recommended for anyone else also.

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2 thoughts on “Book Review: Gold by Issac Asimov

  1. The short story “Cal” (at the start of this book) might be my favorite robot story by Asimov. Also, his commentary on topics such as the origins of psychohistory (in Part two: On Science Fiction) are very interesting. Thanks for your review.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That *was* an amazing story! One of my favourites too. Of the non-fic, I most enjoyed the essays that dealt specifically with the evolution of the field over the course of his lifetime. I don’t think anyone else has ever had such a broad perspective (and maybe never will again.)


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