cover image Gold: The Final Science Fiction Collection

Gold: The Final Science Fiction Collection

Isaac Asimov. HarperPrism, $20 (345pp) ISBN 978-0-06-105206-4

Asimov, who died in 1992 and whose influence can hardly be exaggerated, is ill-served by this work, two-thirds of which consists of book introductions and editorials he wrote for Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine. The fiction included here, though a decidedly mixed bag (several pieces are short-shorts whose long-term value is dubious), includes two of Asimov's most important late stories, ``Cal'' and the title story. ``Cal'' is one of several tales here in which a robot's use of a word processor has unexpected consequences, but it stands above the others (such as ``Fault-Intolerant'') because Cal is as vibrant as the humans in the story. The Hugo-winning ``Gold,'' meanwhile, in which a ``compu-drama'' director agrees to adapt an SF novel to the new medium, is by itself worth the price of this book. The two nonfiction sections, by contrast, are sloppily compiled (``Suspense'' is the first part of a two-part editorial not continued here, for instance). Additionally, several of the editorials, by referring to stories published in the magazine but not here, have lost much of their effectiveness. A volume of Asimov's uncollected fantasy stories is promised by HarperPrism for 1996; one wishes that this book had included those stories instead of the nonfiction here. Even so, however, this collection presents enough valuable insight into Asimov's work to mitigate disappointment. (Mar.)