OPUS 200 by Isaac Asimov

OPUS 200

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KIRKUS REVIEW

No cookbooks, as yet--but among Asimov's first 199 works there's one of almost every other conceivable kind, an achievement celebrated in this cheerful rag-bag of Asimoviana. Here he is, discussing the orbit of Halley's Comet, telling us that the "reeking tube" (i.e., smoking gun) of Kipling's "Recessional" was even then being superseded by "various smokeless powders," discoursing on the "lesson of universalism" in the Book of Ruth, indulging his passion for historical exposition ("Orleans was the Stalingrad of the Hundred Years' War"). There is, in fact, a snippet from just about every Asimov line of endeavor, from physics for eight-year-olds to the "Black Widowers" mystery series. What is one to make of this human book factory? His propellants appear to be simple exhibitionism and a passion for explaining anything to anybody. He is undoubtedly the most lucid scientific popularizer of his day, a tireless if sometimes puerile humorist, an invincibly obtuse literary annotator, a capital limerick-writer, a science-fiction author of distinctly prosaic gifts out of which, by sheer intelligent hard work, he has wrung some surpassingly good stories. (The best of the famous "robotics" stories, "The Bicentennial Man," appears here in full.) Given the Good Doctor's lifelong case of hyperactive typewriter, it's not surprising that a great deal of this stuff is awful; what is remarkable is how much of it is excellent.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1979
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 1979




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