The final book by Isaac Asimov on my shelves is another anthology. Nightfall One is the first half of a two volume collection of stories by Asimov, first published in 1969 (as a single volume). There are five stories in the book originally published between 1941 & 1951, with introductions by Asimov. One thing that struck me about these stories are that they have aliens in them, which is relatively unusual for Asimov. They're also further demonstrations that Asimov is more of an ideas storyteller than a character one.
This isn't quite the post I thought I'd be writing when I started the book, I thought I'd be concentrating on the details of the plot or the characters. Instead there was a scene in the middle that shifted my perception of the overall arc in an unexpected way.
I was a bit wary about reading this book, after not enjoying the first in the trilogy very much when I read it a few days ago (post). But this one went better. I think the problem I was having with the first one was that each section had different characters & was so short that none of the characters really got a chance to expand beyond a name & a handful of traits. There are only two sections in this book, and so the characters have more room to breathe.
This isn't one of the Asimov books we own - we've got the next two in the trilogy and I've had to get this out of the library so I could read it first. J bought the other two, in a second hand bookshop somewhere many many years ago. I did think about buying this one but as I'm just about to put the rest in a box it seemed silly to buy something only to box it up.
Pebble in the Sky was Asimov's first novel, published in 1950, and is one of the few Asimov novels I actually bought. My mother owns most of the ones I've read, and J brought copies of the Foundation ones that I'll be getting to next into the house so I've never actually got round to buying many.
I was a bit surprised when I saw this book was still on the shelf - I know I've boxed up some Asimov before (my librarything account lists a couple that aren't on the shelf) and I'm a little surprised that this one made the cut. It's a collection of three previously unpublished stories, one of which became "Pebble in the Sky", one of which became "The End of Eternity" and one of which was published with an alternate ending.
Nemesis is a book by Asimov written late in his career, published only a few years before his death. I think I might've bought it new (the edition I have says published in 1990, originally published 1989), and I'm not sure if I ever read it more than once. Certainly I had only the haziest recollection of the plot when I started reading it this time round - "something about a star on the way to the solar system", which is about as much as the blurb on the back says.
It turns out that this is where I picked up my ideas of what John Campbell looked for in a story when he was an editor. Asimov's introductions to a few of these stories refer to Campbell's liking for stories about supermen among us (preferably our descendants) and about plucky Earthmen outwitting the aliens. I think I liked those plots a bit more when I was a teenager, and certainly the dodgy biology irritates me more now.
This series of anthologies was published in the 1980s and was a retrospective of the best stories from years gone by as picked out by Isaac Asimov & Martin Greenberg (I possibly unfairly have the impression that Greenberg probably did most of the legwork, then Asimov made final decisions & wrote quirky little intros - no evidence for that tho).
The third and final volume of Isaac Asimov's autobiographical anthology of short stories from the 1930s covers 1935-1938. And as with the other volumes it's a bit hit & miss. Some of the misses have aged poorly, some I suspect I'd never've enjoyed even if I were a young lad in the 1930s.