cover image Isaac Asimov: Complete

Isaac Asimov: Complete

Isaac Asimov. Doubleday Books, $14 (560pp) ISBN 978-0-385-42079-2

This collection of 40 stories, ranging from the mundane to the inspired, offers a sufficient variety to tempt both the newcomer and the devoted fan. The difficulties of day-to-day life for settlers on the planet Mars are revealed in the classic ``The Martian Way.'' When an isolationist Earth government suddenly declares that it is cutting back on the water necessary for the Spacers to survive, these rugged pioneers must find the future on their own. Asimov's world-controlling super-computer Multivac appears in ``The Life and Times of Multivac.'' Although this man-made intelligence nurtures the tiny population of humans that survived the catastrophes of the 20th century, its good deeds are met with resentment. But when the computer is tricked into short-circuiting, the dazed humans aren't prepared to handle the responsibility of their own lives. Salvation, however, rests in the hands of Asimov's robots: devoted, patient, almost loving servants. In the award-winning ``The Bicentennial Man,'' a robot who is accidentally endowed with artistic ability is treated as a freak by his human betters, yet he spends his entire existence seeking only one thing: human form. (Apr.)