Reviewed by Steven H Silver
Shortly after Isaac Asimov's death, HarperPrism published a collection of his science fiction stories and essays: Gold, subtitled The Final Science Fiction Collection. The book is divided into three sections. The first consists of fifteen previously uncollected short stories with the implication that now all of Asimov's shorts have been collected (although I seem to recall other stories which appeared after Asimov's death which are not included). Section two, entitled "On Science Fiction", contains the introductions which Asimov wrote to various short story anthologies. While many of these are interesting in their own right, it would have been nice if the editor (Janet Asimov?) would have included a source description so the reader could look up the original anthology if so desired. The final section is entitled "On Writing Science Fiction" and contains short bits which Asimov wrote about writing.
I was surprised to see that I had only read four of the short stories which appear in Gold, although the majority of the remaining eleven are short shorts and rather light weight. The fifteen stories take up 138 pages, three of the stories accounting for 80 of those pages, leaving an average of about 5 pages per story for the remainder.
The section on introductions is nice, but, as I said before, under-referenced. The final section is also a good read. In fact, the essays are more interesting than the stories Asimov wrote. The essays give us more insight into the author's mindset as he spent his final years helping to define what science fiction meant to him, frequently in the light of new subgenres with which he wasn't particularly comfortable.
As with much of Asimov's writing, perhaps the primary quality is its easiness to read. Just as his 500+ page biography, I. Asimov, can be read in a day or two, so can the 342 page Gold.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
|Left to Right||Feghoot and the Courts|
|The Instability||The Nations in Space|
|Alexander the God||The Smile of the Chipper|
|In the Canyon||Gold|
|Good-bye to Earth||Assorted Essays|
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