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A READER'S TREASURY

Foundation and I, Robot
by
Isaac Asimov

Chapter: Reading for Enjoyment
Published by Octoplus Books, Ltd in 1984
A Book Review by Bobby Matherne ©1999

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This is a book by an author I don't respect due to the shabby way he treated Velikovsky when he called him a "psycho-ceramic" his facetious word for crackpot. I read so much science fiction during my youth that by the age of thirteen, I was burnt out on the genre. Heinlein and all the other greats who published during the decade of the 1940's I read from cover to cover, Green Hills of Earth, Red Planet Mars, etc. I spent more time in space before 1957 than any astronaut since that time.

This book sat on my shelf about ten years before I read it. I had encountered the three laws of robots referenced somewhere, so I thought it best that I read the original book. It was a fast read, and for you I have unearthed his three laws of robots and a few other worthy quotes such as the following, which undoubtedly he took from someone else without a citation, "Violence," came the retort, "is the last refuge of the incompetent." (Page 32) The thought shows up later on page 83 as follows: "I consider violence an uneconomical way of attaining an end. There are always better substitutes, though they may sometimes be a little less direct." This one appears to be original, so far as I can tell: "It pays to be obvious, especially if you have a reputation for subtlety." (Page 65)

This one is a gem:

[page 72] Wienis' gaze was cold. "May I refer to you as 'your majesty'?"

"Yes."

"Very well! You are a fool, your majesty!"

Ah, the following quotation includes a delightful metaphor, "an old fable" that explains the origin of the coercion by the state. My marginalia says "of spurious origin":

[page 90] "A horse having a wolf as a powerful and dangerous enemy lived in constant fear of his life. Being driven to desperation, it occurred to him to seek a strong ally. Whereupon he approached a man, and offered an alliance, pointing out that the wolf was likewise an enemy of the man. The man accepted the partnership at once and offered to kill the wolf immediately, if his new partner would only co-operate by placing his greater speed at the man's disposal. The horse was willing and allowed the man to place bridle and saddle upon him. The man mounted, hunted down the wolf, and killed him.


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