This article will detail the rankings of 23 of his most popular books.
1. The Complete Robot
The Complete Robot is a collection of stories that chronicle the future where robots are more human than their inventors.
I have the shape of a human being and organs equivalent to those of a human being. My organs, in fact, are identical to some of those in a prosthetized human being. I have contributed artistically, literally, and scientifically to human culture as much as any human being now alive. What more can one ask?
2. Second Foundation
The Foundation lies in ruins—destroyed by a mutant mind bent on humanity’s annihilation. But it’s rumored that there’s a Second Foundation hidden somewhere at the end of the Galaxy, established as insurance to preserve the knowledge of mankind.
The third installment of the Foundation series introduces the fact that there is a second Foundation, leaving the first as a decoy for those who seek to destroy it.
The Mule searches the galaxy looking for the second Foundation in the first part of the novel. The second part follows the Mule’s counterparts and their mission to seek out the Second Foundation. For those fascinated with the idea of telepathy, this novel has plenty of material to keep you engaged.
A circle has no end.
3. The End of Eternity
Andrew Harlan is an Eternal, a member of the elite of the future. One of the few who live in Eternity, a location outside of place and time, Harlan's job is to create carefully controlled and enacted Reality Changes.
The End of Eternity chronicles an immortal being responsible for travel between timelines to correct events that have had an impact on later timelines.
The Immortal falls in love with a mortal woman and uses his incredible powers to bend time to allow him to stay with his lover.
For the first time the specific and express thought came to him. And though he pushed it away in horror, he knew that, having once come, it would return. The thought was simply this: That he would ruin Eternity, if he had to. The worst of it was that he knew he had the power to do it.
4. Robot Visions
From the writer whose name is synonymous with the science of robotics comes five decades of robot visions-36 landmark stories and essays, plus three rare tales-gathered together in one volume.
Robot Visions is the counterpart to Robot Dreams. It is also a collection of short stories with factual essays peppered in.
Science fiction wasn’t Asimov’s only genre. He also penned 14 historical works in the 1960s. Additionally, he created annotated versions of other books including Shakespeare’s works and Gulliver Travels. Isaac even published Asimov’s Guide to the Bible, a factual approach to the Bible complete with maps and biographies of each character in the Old and New Testament.
Isaac Asimov led an extremely successful writing career while educating others through teaching and public speaking events. His death in 1992 didn’t bring an end to his fame, and he will always be remembered as one of the greatest writers of all time.
In a properly automated and educated world, then, machines may prove to be the true humanizing influence. It may be that machines will do the work that makes life possible and that human beings will do all the other things that make life pleasant and worthwhile.
5. Foundation and Empire
Led by its founding father, the psychohistorian Hari Seldon, and utilizing science and technology, the Foundation survived the greed and barbarism of its neighboring warrior-planets.
The suspenseful second installment of the Foundation trilogy chronicles the new civilization’s struggles to battle the darkness brought forth by other neighboring empires. Although this novel is based in the future of a fictional society, it does strike a similarity to mankind’s ever present struggle to fight against evil and move forward by whatever means necessary.
In this novel, you are introduced to the Mule, a spy sent to destroy the Foundation and its seemingly perfect society.
The laws of history are as absolute as the laws of physics, and if the probabilities of error are greater, it is only because history does not deal with as many humans as physics does atoms, so that individual variations count for more.
6. I, Robot
I, Robot is set in a not-so-distant future where robots are taking over the world. However, robots need humans to continue their life, and humans need robots to sustain theirs.
This tug of war is present throughout the thrilling novel that makes readers ask, “What is considered human?” Though not highly awarded, this title has been widely loved by Isaac Asimov’s fans and science fiction readers for decades.
The 2004 movie with the same title, starring Will Smith, was not a film adaptation of the novel. Ideas from the book were incorporated into the story, however.
Every period of human development has had its own particular type of human conflict—its own variety of problem that, apparently, could be settled only by force. And each time, frustratingly enough, force never really settled the problem. Instead, it persisted through a series of conflicts, then vanished of itself—what's the expression—ah, yes, 'not with a bang, but a whimper,' as the economic and social environment changed. And then, new problems, and a new series of wars.
For twelve thousand years the Galactic Empire has ruled supreme. Now it is dying. Only Hari Seldon, creator of the revolutionary science of psychohistory, can see into the future—a dark age of ignorance, barbarism, and warfare that will last thirty thousand years.
The most popular of Asimov’s novels is Foundation. In this science fiction novel, you follow Hari Seldon, a psychohistorian who brings the greatest minds of the planet together to create a new empire on the edge of the universe, dubbing it Foundation.
The fledgling civilization faces many challenges including a potential takeover by corrupt warlords from previous empires. This book is the introduction to the Foundation trilogy which earned Isaac the 1966 Hugo Award for All-Time Best Science Fiction Series.
Scientific truth is beyond loyalty and disloyalty.
8. Robot Dreams
Robot Dreams spans the body of Asimov's fiction from the 1940s to the mid-80s, and features classic Asimovian themes, from the scientific puzzle to the extraterrestrial thriller, all introduced in an exclusive essay written especially for this collection.
Robot Dreams is a collection of 21 short stories. Isaac Asimov tells enthralling accounts of robot life as technology advances in the future. Robot Dreams won the 1987 Locus Award for Best Short Story.
What kind of a ridiculous animal are we to be lords of the world after the dinosaurs had failed? Sure, we’re intelligent, but what’s intelligence? We think it is important because we have it. If the Tyrannosaurus could have picked out the one quality that he thought would ensure species domination, it would be size and strength. And he would make a better case for it. He lasted longer than we’re likely to.
9. The Caves of Steel
A millennium into the future two advancements have altered the course of human history: the colonization of the galaxy and the creation of the positronic brain. Isaac Asimov’s Robot novels chronicle the unlikely partnership between a New York City detective and a humanoid robot who must learn to work together.
The Caves of Steel combines two of the most popular book genres: murder mystery and science fiction. A New York City detective and a humanoid robot must work together to solve the murder of a prominent robot leader.
There was no doubt about it: the City was the culmination of man’s mastery over the environment. Not space travel, not the fifty colonized worlds that were now so haughtily independent, but the City.
10. The Naked Sun
A millennium into the future, two advancements have altered the course of human history: the colonization of the Galaxy and the creation of the positronic brain. On the beautiful Outer World planet of Solaria, a handful of human colonists lead a hermit-like existence, their every need attended to by their faithful robot servants.
A millennium from now, humanoid robots are commonplace. One secluded planet utilizes these robots as servants. Suddenly, one of the humans is murdered. The human’s reclusive lifestyle leads many to wonder if he was murdered by another human that was close to him, or if one of their faithful robots has committed this heinous act.
Civilizations have always been pyramidal in structure. As one climbs toward the apex of the social edifice, there is increased leisure and increasing opportunity to pursue happiness. As one climbs, one finds also fewer and fewer people to enjoy this more and more. Invariably, there is a preponderance of the dispossessed. And remember this, no matter how well off the bottom layers of the pyramid might be on an absolute scale, they are always dispossessed in comparison with the apex.
11. Robots and Empire
One man seeks to destroy the Earth, and the only forces stopping him are two humanoid robots. These robots are bound by the Three Laws of Robotics, forbidding them from harming humans. Is there any way they can skirt the rules that have defined their entire existences to defeat a man who threatens their home?
No individual death among human beings is important. Someone who dies leaves his work behind and that does not entirely die. It never entirely dies as long as humanity exists.
12. The Robots of Dawn
Detective Elijah Baiey is called to the Spacer world Aurora to solve a bizarre case of roboticide. The prime suspect is a gifted roboticist who had the means, the motive, and the opportunity to commit the crime. There's only one catch: Baley and his positronic partner, R. Daneel Olivaw, must prove the man innocent.
The story of an unlikely partnership between a human detective and a humanoid robot continues as they investigate a case of roboticide. The suspect has the means and the motives to commit the crime, but the crime solvers believe him to be innocent. How will they prove it?
The robot had no feelings, only positronic surges that mimicked those feelings. (And perhaps human beings had no feelings, only neuronic surges that were interpreted as feelings.)
13. Forward the Foundation
As Hari Seldon struggles to perfect his revolutionary theory of psychohistory and ensure a place for humanity among the stars, the great Galactic Empire totters on the brink of apocalyptic collapse.
Hari Seldon must protect the science of psychohistory with his life. Will he be able to thwart off the people who wish to turn his discovery into a weapon?
The pleasantness of their company outweighed the regret of their passing. On the whole, then, it is better to experience what you experience now than not to.
14. The Gods Themselves
In the twenty-second century Earth obtains limitless, free energy from a source science little understands: an exchange between Earth and a parallel universe, using a process devised by the aliens. But even free energy has a price.
The Earth has finally found an energy resource that is seemingly endless. However, using this resource could soon bring an end to the Sun and Earth as a whole. Only three people are aware of this impending doom, will they be able to get anyone to listen to them?
The Gods Themselves won three awards: the 1972 Nebula Award for Best Novel, the 1973 Hugo Award for Best Novel, and the 1973 Locus Award for Best Novel.
"It is a mistake," he said, "to suppose that the public wants the environment protected or their lives saved and that they will be grateful to any idealist who will fight for such ends. What the public wants is their own individual comfort. We know that well enough from our experience in the environmental crisis of the twentieth century. Once it was well known that cigarettes increased the incidence of lung cancer, the obvious remedy was to stop smoking, but the desired remedy was a cigarette that did not cause cancer. When it became clear that the internal-combustion engine was polluting the atmosphere dangerously, the obvious remedy was to abandon such engines, and the desired remedy was to develop non-polluting engines."
15. Foundation’s Edge
Now, 498 years after its founding, the Foundation seemed to be following the Seldon Plan perfectly. Too perfectly. Now an impossible planet -- with impossible powers -- threatens to upset the Seldon Plan for good unless two men, sworn enemies, can work together to save it!
The first and second Foundation are finally done feuding with one another. The first Foundation is still celebrating their victory when they hear word that there are some survivors of the second Foundation seeking revenge.
Foundation’s Edge earned Isaac two awards for his trophy case: the 1983 Hugo Award for Best Novel and Locus Award for Best Science Fiction Novel in 1983.
Pelorat sighed. "I will never understand people." "There's nothing to it. All you have to do is take a close look at yourself and you will understand everyone else."
The planet Kalgash is on the brink of chaos—but only a handful of people realize it. Kalgash knows only the perpetual light of day; for more than two millennia, some combination of its six suns has lit up the sky. But twilight is now gathering. Soon the suns will set all at one—and the terrifying splendor of Nightfall will call forth a madness that signals the end of civilization
Nightfall depicts a society that has never seen darkness. Their planet has six suns, and they are constantly basked in the glow of warmth and light. What kind of chaos will happen when a sudden eclipse plunges this society into the dark?
It's one thing to predict [the complete breakdown of civilization]. It's something else again to be right in the middle of it. It's a very humbling thing...for an academic like me to find his abstract theories turning into concrete reality... It was all just so many words to me, really, just a philosophical exercise, completely abstract.
17. Prelude to Foundation
It is the year 12,020 G.E. and Emperor Cleon I sits uneasily on the Imperial throne of Trantor. Here in the great multidomed capital of the Galactic Empire, forty billion people have created a civilization of unimaginable technological and cultural complexity.
This novel is where we are introduced to Hari Seldon, the inventor of psychohistory. His ability to predict the future of the universe through mathematical equations will soon make him the most wanted man in the galaxy.
Will he be able to keep his invention under wraps? Or will leaders of another planet stop at nothing to know what Hari knows?
Why, he wondered, did so many people spend their lives not trying to find answers to questions—not even thinking of questions to begin with? Was there anything more exciting in life than seeking answers?
18. Foundation and Earth
Trevize believes the answer lies at the site of humanity’s roots: fabled Earth . . . if it still exists. For no one is sure where the planet of Gaia’s first settlers is to be found in the immense wilderness of the Galaxy.
A new planet has emerged where privacy is not a concept, and every single thing on the planet has feelings. The founder of this planet thinks he has made the perfect choice, but he’s curious to know about the origins of mankind, those who lived on Earth.
With no record of Earth or its history kept on this planet, the founder of Gaia must go on an unimaginable quest to find Earth – if it still exists.
Where is the world whose people don't prefer a comfortable, warm, and well-worn belief, however illogical, to the chilly winds of uncertainty?
19. Pebble in the Sky
After years of bitter struggle, Trantor had at last completed its work—its Galactic Empire ruled all 200 million planets of the Galaxy . . . all but one. On a backward planet called Earth were those who nurtured bitter dreams of a mythical, half-remembered past when the planet was humanity’s only home.
Isaac Asimov’s first novel Pebble in the Sky showcases a man named Joseph Schwartz who is thrust forward in time to see the planet he loves, Earth, in ruins. Everyone over the age of 60 is sentenced to death due to limited resources on Earth. Joseph has just turned 62.
They won't listen. Do you know why? Because they have certain fixed notions about the past. Any change would be blasphemy in their eyes, even if it were the truth. They don't want the truth; they want their traditions.
20. Fantastic Voyage
Four men and one woman reduced to a microscopic fraction of their original size, boarding a miniaturized atomic sub and being injected into a dying man's carotid artery. Passing through the heart, entering the inner ear where even the slightest sound would destroy them, battling relentlessly into the cranium.
Five people are shrunk down to microscopic proportions and tasked with navigating a submarine through a powerful man’s carotid artery to clear a clot. If their mission is not successful, all of humanity is damned.
You see, I have cowardly feelings, but I try not to make cowardly decisions.
21. The Currents of Space
Trantor had extended its rule over half the Galaxy, but the other half defied its authority, defending their corrupt fiefdoms with violence and repression. On the planet Florina, the natives labored as slaves for their arrogant masters on nearby Sark. But now both worlds were hurtling toward a cataclysmic doom, and only one man knew the truth--a slave unaware of the secret knowledge locked inside his own brain.
How then to enforce peace? Not by reason, certainly, nor by education. If a man could not look at the fact of peace and the fact of war and choose the former in preference to the latter, what additional argument could persuade him? What could be more eloquent as a condemnation of war than war itself?
In the twenty-third century pioneers have escaped the crowded earth for life in self-sustaining orbital colonies. One of the colonies, Rotor, has broken away from the solar system to create its own renegade utopia around an unknown red star two light-years from Earth: a star named Nemesis.
A 15-year-old girl must find the courage and means to stop her planet and Earth from hurtling toward a death star named Nemesis. Her age and naiveté are only a few of the obstacles she will face trying to save the people she loves as well as the universe.
It's just that old people always think young people haven't really learned about love; and young people think that old people have forgotten about love; and, you know, they're both wrong.
23. The Stars, Like Dust
His name was Biron Farrill and he was a student at the University of Earth. A native of one of the helpless Nebular Kingdoms, he saw his home world conquered and controlled by the planet Tyrann—a ruthless, barbaric Empire that was building a dynasty of cruelty and domination among the stars.
A student at the University of Earth finds himself the target of an unknown assailant. His father is murdered light years away, and he must go embark on a mission to find who killed his father and why.
The stars, like dust, encircle me In living mists of light; And all of space I seem to see In one vast burst of sight
Complete Rankings of Isaac Asimov’s Best Books
|The Complete Robot||4.35||4.17||4.26|
|The End of Eternity||4.24||4.02||4.13|
|Foundation and Empire||4.21||3.97||4.09|
|The Caves of Steel||4.17||3.95||4.06|
|The Naked Sun||4.16||3.90||4.25|
|Robots and Empire||4.21||3.84||4.03|
|The Robots of Dawn||4.17||3.87||4.02|
|Forward the Foundation||4.16||3.79||3.98|
|The Gods Themselves||4.09||3.85||3.97|
|Prelude to Foundation||4.13||3.72||3.93|
|Foundation and Earth||4.06||3.78||3.92|
|Pebble in the Sky||3.89||3.63||3.76|
|The Currents of Space||3.85||3.60||3.73|
|The Stars, Like Dust||3.75||3.52||3.64|
About Isaac Asimov
Isaac Asimov began his life in Russia in 1920. When he was three years old, he and his family immigrated to the United States. Isaac taught himself to read at the age of five, and taught his siblings how to read soon after.
His family owned a string of candy stores in New York. The store also sold magazines and newspapers, giving Isaac endless reading material. He fell in love with the science fiction genre, which was largely centered on the science of the time, with storytelling being an afterthought.
After serving in World War II as a civilian chemist, he received an honorable discharge in 1946. He completed his doctorate degree shortly after, and accepted a position as a professor of chemistry at the Boston University School of Medicine. By this time, his earnings from writing surpassed his teaching salary.
Isaac cemented himself as a prolific writer, writing or editing nearly 500 novels.
What’s Your Take?
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