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Pebble in the Sky [Hardcover]

4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)

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4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
Pebble in the Sky is the last of Asimov's Galactic Empire trilogy, which precedes events described in the masterful Foundation Trilogy. Pebble adds further detail about the Empire of Trantor and the place of Earth within it, thousands of years in our future. Humanity is spread across the Galaxy, inhabiting a hundred million star systems and numbering in the quadrillions. Yet atomic warfare has reduced Earth to a radioactive backwater, despised by the other imperial citizens.
This is the world where Joseph Schwartz, a complacent and mild-mannered tailor, finds himself after being catapulted forward in time as a result of an accident in a nuclear lab in mid-20th century Chicago. He soon meets two brilliant scientists: Dr. Bel Arvardan, who is intent on proving that Earth is humanity's birthplace, and Dr. Affret Shekt, physicist and inventor of the Synapsifier, which can boost intelligence in astonishing ways. They team up to foil a plot that could destroy nearly every human alive in the Galaxy.
The book is not without weaknesses. The future science that drives the plot is often a bit dodgy and far-fetched. Schwartz is propelled into the future as a result of an experiment with crude uranium gone freakishly awry, but how exactly this happens is never explained. Nor does Asimov convincingly describe how the biological WMD at the heart of the plot could actually spread across the Galaxy so quickly without the many technologically-advanced worlds of the Empire discovering a way to stop it. Then there is some of the dialog. Even though most of the book takes place so far in the future that humans have evolved miniature appendices and no longer grow facial hair or wisdom teeth, the characters sometimes lapse into dialog reminiscent of American slang straight out of a bad 1950s detective novel. Dr.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Decent Asimov but not as good as his others Nov. 16 2001
So far I've read Asimov's four Robot novels and all three Empire novels. I haven't read the Foundation series yet. Pebble in the Sky is the last of the Empire trilogy. It's a good read but I didn't enjoy it as much as the other Empire books or the Robot series. I feel that science fiction is most enjoyable when it's somewhat believable, but Asimov nonchalantly combines three far-fetched concepts in this work: time travel, telepathy/ mind control, and a weapon of extreme mass destruction. It's a bit too much!
A man named Joseph Schwartz is for no reason warped in time to the far future when the Trantorian Empire (introduced in The Currents of Space) has conquered and brought general peace to the entire Milky Way galaxy. The novel takes place wholly on Earth but the Earth of the future is a shattered and largely radioactive planet that bears little resemblance to what it is today. There is no space travel in this book.
After the random time travel event, Schwartz proceeds to acquire superhuman powers and uncovers a conspiracy that threatens the Empire, helped by a couple people who really just end up being the supporting cast for Schwartz's show. The viewpoint of this book is interesting: the "good guys" are the vast and powerful galactic Empire and the "bad guys" are some militant activists on Earth!
Overall, this book was a letdown after The Currents of Space, my favorite of the seven Asimov novels I've read so far. Still, it gives you an interesting perspective on the Empire at the peak of its power. From what I've heard, the Foundation series is where the Empire begins to crumble. So read the Empire series if you want to get a better idea of what life in the early Trantorian regime was like!
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3.0 out of 5 stars Didn't match my expectations... Oct. 20 2001
I picked this book up expecting something grand. I mean, Isaac Asimov is a famous writer, if not THE famous SF writer. But after finishing this short book (around 230 pages) I believe he's overrated. At least, if all his books are as "not-awesome" as this one.
The main premise is good. 62-year-old male starts walking and with one step he goes a hundred thousand years in the future. All righty then...
The fallout Earth isn't described vividly enough. I often had to come up with details myself so I could picture it as vividly as I'm used to do with other books.
The characters varied from painfully artificial to amazingly natural. The main character is very human, and reacts as surprised as anyone would be jumping to the future, but he comes to that conclusion far slower than the average person would.
Also, I'm afraid a sad ending or even a not-so-happy ending would fit the story better than it's current "everyone-hugs-with-a-rainbow-on-the-sky-straight-outta-hollywood" ending.
But the conspiracy theories the villains create are surprisingly elaborate and very well thought-out...
On the whole, I'd still recommend this book, but don't expect the 4.5 out of 5 book that everyone's raving about here...
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4.0 out of 5 stars about dates and radiactivity Oct. 8 2000
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I'm writing this review in order to make clear some points which seem a bit confusing about the Empire novels. Dates: -Daneel Olivaw and Elijah Baley novels take place (more or less)in the year 5,000 a.C. -The Stars like Dust 6,000-7,000 a.C. -Pebble in the Sky 13,800 a.C. -Foundation 25,000 a.C. -Foundation and Earth 25,500 a.C.
you can calculate this following R. Daneel Olivaw's life, and knowing it was created in 5,000 and that Hari Seldon was born by 20,000.
It is true that its full of mistakes and errors if we believe what was explained in Robots and Empire: -Earth should be radiactive in 150 years more or less (mandamus said). Regarding this novel, Earth was still inhabited 8,800 years afterwards -It was Mandamus, allowed by R.Giskard Reventlov, who provoked this situation, and not any nuclear war. Anyway, you can imagine that the increase of radiactivity caused a number of wars which have been blamed (afterwards) of causing the increase of radiactivity.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book
I have read a few Asimov books lately and they are all very good I would recommend this one and all of his others.
Published 22 months ago by Jordan
4.0 out of 5 stars A very good bridge if nothing else
This story connects the Empire series together with the foundation series. On its own it is nothing spectacular--certainly not one of Asimov's finer works (though it may be... Read more
Published on Dec 15 2003 by Steven M. Balke Jr.
4.0 out of 5 stars Early Asimov still beats par
It is really an enormous tragedy that so many of Isaac Asimov's greatest Science Fiction works remain out of print. The three 'Empire' novels by Asimov are a great example. Read more
Published on May 30 2000 by Peter Dykhuis
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book, but...
I give this book 5 stars because it is classic Asimov. However, there are points in this book that are inconsistent with Asimov's later novels. Read more
Published on March 29 2000
5.0 out of 5 stars My personal Favorite
This book is great. The only problem with it is i didn't like the ending (same with Foundation Edge) but after reading it again , i decided that it was good one. Read more
Published on Sept. 17 1999
4.0 out of 5 stars Very Interesting story. Very insightful for its time.
Although technically incorrect on some points, i.e. the effects of radiation on humans, this can be excused for the fact that the novel was written in 1949 if I remember correctly. Read more
Published on July 11 1999
5.0 out of 5 stars I did not read this book.
I did not read this book because everyplace I looked it was out of stock. I've heard good things about this 'Isaac Asimov' and wish to read his other books.
Published on June 20 1999
4.0 out of 5 stars A displaced (in time) tailor, discrimination, and empires
This is Isaac Asimov's first published science fiction novel and a nice introduction to 1950s science fiction. I first read it when I was a teenager. Read more
Published on May 9 1999 by R. D. Allison (
5.0 out of 5 stars "Pebble" was my introduction to Issac Asimov
In an instant I became a huge Asimov fan. I have read nearly all of his Sci-Fi novels and a number of his Non-fiction titles as well, but I continually return to this book. Read more
Published on May 7 1999
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