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The Gods Themselves Would Love This Book
Jul 22, 2001 07:31 AM 7558 Views

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Published in 1972 during the energy crisis in the United States, Isaac Asimov's The Gods Themselves offers up a solution - an unlimited energy source with no pollution. But a few scientists aren't sure that it really is a safe source of energy. The first part of the book delves into how the Electron Pump came to be, and one outcast scientist's attempt to determine if it's really safe. It examines our willingness to accept the quick fix, the easy solution, and our resistance to being told that which we want is bad for us.


The second part of the book looks at an alien civilization, a cohesively described completely different society and form of life. This section shines - it is perhaps the finest section of science fiction writing ever composed. Most aliens are two dimensional or human-like. These are neither. My only complaint is that I wish this section could have gone on forever.


The third part of the book takes place on the moon, and it examines both the feelings of alienation inherent in migrating to a new land and the resentment of the colonized moon toward its Earth-run government. It offers too a solution to the problems offered up in parts one and two - a way to safely use the Electron Pump and continue the energy supply it brings.


Parts one and two are brilliant, part three less so in its obvious attempts to tie up loose ends. The glimpse into the inner working of the scientific community found in part one are dead on. The construction of alien life in part two is so realistic it breathes. The speculation of what life would be like on the moon also seems realistic and is the highlight of part three.


The ending is a bit too tidy, and part three is a letdown after the glory that is part two, but this is still a book worth reading in its entirety at least once. Even the gods themselves would agree.


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