cover image The Alternate Asimovs

The Alternate Asimovs

Isaac Asimov. Doubleday Books, $16.95 (272pp) ISBN 978-0-385-19784-7

Asimov likes to boast that he seldom if ever revises his work, and as testimony to such heedless efficiency there is his mountain of some 300 booksfilled with reams of slapdash writing. It wasn't always so, as this volume of rejected first drafts shows. The story ""Belief'' is negligible with either of its different endings, but the two other entries are striking for the changes and added characterization that led to the published texts. While one became his weak first novel, Pebble in the Sky (1950), the other novelette was expanded into The End of Eternity (1955), which is arguably the best of his fiction works. Here, the original version is a bare gimmick and outline while the revision dramatizes an idea in a fully developed story. This otherwise inexcusable collection leaves the reader wondering how much better might much of Asimov's other work have been if he'd submitted them to the same process. January 3