Pebble in the Sky by Isaac Asimov

Pico concentrating on the ruffled covers.
Pico concentrating on the ruffled covers.

Why I Read It: I had to see how the Galactic Empire trilogy ended.

Where I Got: My library.

Who I Recommend This To: Space opera lovers.

Narrator: Robert Fass

Publisher: BBC Audiobooks America (2009)

Length: 8 hours 6 minutes

Series: Book 3 Galactic Empire

While Pebble in the Sky is Book 3 in the Galactic Empire series, it can be read as a stand alone, just as the other two books in the same series. In this novel, initially published in 1950, Joseph Schwartz is inadvertently transported to the far future where Earth is one piddly little lightly populated planet in a galaxy of several million populated planets. Earth’s ancient history has been forgotten and poor Schwartz knows none of this, suddenly appearing in a field. He makes his way to the nearest house, only to discover he doesn’t understand the inhabitants, and they do not understand him. The people he has bumped into are farmers, and they believe he is an idiot. Then they hear about Dr. Affret Shekt’s synapsifier and how the good scientist needs human volunteers.

Off to Chica, the once large booming city of Chicago, to get Joseph zapped out of idiocy. While Joseph is coming up to speed with the local Galactic Empire language and settling into his new mental powers, we meet some of the other players. Bel Arvaden is an archaeologist with this wild theory that Earth may once have been the center of all human civilization, but mostly he is considered a crackpot for saying such things. Some typical bad guys (pretty forgettable) are introduced with wild dreams of galactic domination.

Overall, Isaac Asimov followed the same story arc as in the other two Galactic Empire series: Some crazy scientist with some odd gadgetry, young male hero that magically puts all the pieces together, desperate female that alternately needs rescuing or bedding. While a fun listen, it wasn’t anything shining. The space opera action was fun, the synapsifier was interesting, the characters one dimensional, the 3 female characters were wives or love interest. In fact, every time a woman walked on scene, everyone’s IQ dropped to 80. Woman walks out of the scene, and the IQs come back up to about normal. Sigh…. Can I blame it on the 1950s?

Robert Fass was easy to listen to. He had distinct voices for all the male characters and pulled off Joseph Schwartz’s near eternal confusion and despair quite admirably. He could use a little more work on his feminine voices as they basically sounded like young men.

VintageScifiBadgeWhat I Liked: The fast pace; the weird cultural norms built into Earth society; the lost history of Earth.

What I Disliked: Fairly predictable; cardboard cut-out women whose main role is to perform wifely duties or need rescuing.

January has been the Vintage Scifi Month over at Little Red Reviewer. I started with Asimov and it’s pretty cool that I was able to finish with Asimov. This month and next is The Science Fiction Experience over at Stainless Steel Droppings. Make sure to check out both blogs for more great SF.


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