One moment Joseph Schwartz is a happily retired tailor inChicago The next he s a helpless stranger on Earth during the heyday of the first Galactic Empire Earth, he soon learns, is a backwater, just a pebble in the sky, despised by all the othermillion planets of the Empire because its people dare to claim it s the original home of man And Earth is poor, with great areas of radioactivity ruining much of its soil so poor that everyone is sentenced to death at the age of sixtyJoseph Schwartz is sixty twoThis is young Isaac Asimov s first novel, full of wonders and ideas, the book that launched the novels of the Galactic Empire, culminating in the Foundation books and novels It is also one of that select group of SF adventures that since the early s has hooked generations of teenagers on reading science fiction This is Golden Age SF at its finest


10 thoughts on “Pebble in the Sky

  1. Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽ Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽ says:

    In Isaac Asimov s very first published novel, Joseph Schwartz, a retired Jewish tailor, is instantly transported from 1949 Brooklyn to a time many thousands of years in the future, through an odd nuclear accident scientific unlikelihood, but we ll let it pass He finds himself on an Earth marred by high levels of radiation, presumably from past nuclear wars, that scientific impossibility apparently hasn t resulted in any physical ill effects to Earth s population, but has resulted in Earthme In Isaac Asimov s very first published novel, Joseph Schwartz, a retired Jewish tailor, is instantly transported from 1949 Brooklyn to a time many thousands of years in the future, through an odd nuclear accident scientific unlikelihood, but we ll let it pass He finds himself on an Earth marred by high levels of radiation, presumably from past nuclear wars, that scientific impossibility apparently hasn t resulted in any physical ill effects to Earth s population, but has resulted in Earthmen being completely ostracized from humanity s galactic society as third class citizens Fan s of Asimov s The Foundation Trilogy will recognize references to Trantor here And although this future Earth has a far lower population than now, The Powers That Be believe that there are not enough resources to go around, so this is an Earth where everyone over age 60 is euthanized, unless you re a government bigwig or some such Bad luck for Schwartz, since he s already 62.Schwartz ends up getting treated by a local scientist s brain enhancing machineunlikely science and gets major view spoiler mind reading and mind control hide spoiler powers Meanwhile, the scientist and his of course beautiful daughter are caught in the middle of a deadly plot that could have galaxy wide consequences, which draws in a handsome of course galactic archeologist Pebble in the Sky is a little rough around the edges and shows its 1940s roots, with the outdated science and social attitudes Other than the love interest, who is occasionally awesome but too often of the hand wringing variety, and a cameo appearance by a farmer s wife, no women grace the pages of this book But there are also some creative and intense parts where you see what would make Asimov such a great SF writer It s kind of corny but it has its charms, if you like very old fashioned, Golden Age science fiction and are okay with some major disbelief suspension


  2. Fran Fran says:

    Joseph Schwartz, a retired tailor, walks along a street in 1949 Between one step and the next, suspecting nothing, he s caught by a side effect of a far future experiment and flung millennia into the future, to a forgotten Earth, the despised backwater of a far flung human galactic empire A violent history has turned far future Earth into a world whose surface is unpleasantly radioactive and which is ignored whenever possible Joseph, half scared to death, unable to speak the language and doub Joseph Schwartz, a retired tailor, walks along a street in 1949 Between one step and the next, suspecting nothing, he s caught by a side effect of a far future experiment and flung millennia into the future, to a forgotten Earth, the despised backwater of a far flung human galactic empire A violent history has turned far future Earth into a world whose surface is unpleasantly radioactive and which is ignored whenever possible Joseph, half scared to death, unable to speak the language and doubting his own sanity, is taken in by a farm family While Joseph struggles to understand his new circumstances, Bel Avardan, a renowned archaeologist from Sirius is visiting Earth to pursue his disregarded theory that humanity may have originated from a single planet rather than as is the prevailing theory evolving in parallel forms on many worlds His path crosses with Joseph s, and eventually, circumstances forced them to work to stop a nasty plot Pebble in the Sky was Asimov s first published novel, predating the collection of Foundation into a novel by a year So don t expect a well developed writing style but nonetheless this is a entertaining and well worth reading book.There is conflict, all types of conflict in this book, from internal conflict as Joseph questions his own sanity over and over, to conflicts between planets, people, societies Yes, the science may sound obsolete while the presented principles are still valid some of Asimov s interpretations may not be but the social conflict the us vs them and the we are all human but surely we are not the same is well portrayed by Asimov s characters, and those conflicts are too close to nowadays reality not to makes us think about our own prejudices and why we hold them.I like this book, with its twists and turns that give the story a good drive, and with all its flaws Not the best Sci Fi there is, but still pretty readable 70 years after being published


  3. Ahmad Sharabiani Ahmad Sharabiani says:

    Pebble in the Sky, Isaac AsimovPebble in the Sky is a science fiction novel by American writer Isaac Asimov, published in 1950 This work is his first novel parts of the Foundation series had appeared from 1942 on wards, in magazines, but Foundation was not published in book form until 1951 The original Foundation books are also a string of linked episodes, whereas this is a complete story involving a single group of characters The book begins with a retired tailor from the mid 20th Century, Pebble in the Sky, Isaac AsimovPebble in the Sky is a science fiction novel by American writer Isaac Asimov, published in 1950 This work is his first novel parts of the Foundation series had appeared from 1942 on wards, in magazines, but Foundation was not published in book form until 1951 The original Foundation books are also a string of linked episodes, whereas this is a complete story involving a single group of characters The book begins with a retired tailor from the mid 20th Century, who is accidentally pitched forward into the future By then, Earth has become radioactive and is a low status part of a vast Galactic Empire There is both a mystery and a power struggle, and a lot of debate and human choices The protagonist is a very ordinary man, rather than thetypical space opera hero 1995 1374 387 20 1396 310 9786001822971 20


  4. Sandy Sandy says:

    In a now famous interview, sci fi legend Isaac Asimov once revealed how he avoided getting stuck with writer s block The hugely prodigious author would often be working at four or five books at the same time, with five typewriters arrayed side by side, and when he would get inextricably bogged down with one book, he d simply move to the neighboring typewriter, and recommence work on that one Thus, one can almost understand how it was possible for Asimov who claimed, in his later years, to do In a now famous interview, sci fi legend Isaac Asimov once revealed how he avoided getting stuck with writer s block The hugely prodigious author would often be working at four or five books at the same time, with five typewriters arrayed side by side, and when he would get inextricably bogged down with one book, he d simply move to the neighboring typewriter, and recommence work on that one Thus, one can almost understand how it was possible for Asimov who claimed, in his later years, to do nothing but write, eat, sleep, and talk to his wife to rack up the almost superhuman tally of just over 500 books written before his death in 1992, in every subject category of the Dewey Decimal System does anybody here even remember the Dewey Decimal System, or am I just aging myself uselessly except, I believe, philosophy.Yes, over 500 books, 38 of them sci fi novels, not to mention 213 by my count short stories, and around 1,600 essays I urge you to go to the author s official website at asimovonline.com to check for yourself But every great novelist s career must begin somewhere, and for Doc Ike, that beginning was his very first sci fi novel, Pebble in the Sky, which was initially released in 1950, when Isaac was 30 years old Asimov had already come out with 37 short stories at that point since his very first, Marooned Off Vesta, had appeared in the 3 39 issue of Amazing Stories including several that would soon be collected to form his Foundation trilogy But Pebble in the Sky was his first genuine book I had not had the pleasure of reading this one in almost 30 years, but a recent perusal has served to remind me of what a terrific, exciting and genuinely fun first novel this is.In the book, the reader encounters a 62 year old, retired ex tailor, Joseph Schwartz, who is walking down the street in modern day i.e., 1949 Chicago when he is hit by an energy beam of some sort and instantaneously whisked far into the future Internal evidence would seem to suggest that Schwartz winds up at least some 50,000 years hence, in the year G.E 827 In this age, Earth is a largely radioactive pariah planet the lowliest member of a Galactic Empire that comprises some 200 million worlds Schwartz is taken in by a farming family and later brought to the local government laboratory, where volunteers are needed to test a new device, the Synapsifier Schwartz is treated by the gizmo s inventor, Dr Affret Shekt, with the result that Schwartz mental abilities are greatly enhanced, to the point where he can read minds, control the movements of others, and even slay a human being using his mind alone But what Schwartz is unaware of is that Earth s Society of Ancients, fed up with centuries of second class Galactic status, is fomenting a revolution against the Empire, and has acquired a weapon that might just enable them to lay waste to 200 million other worlds And through a series of wild coincidences and unlikely misreadings, the Ancients soon come to believe that Schwartz, as well as visiting Sirian archeologist Bel Arvardan, not to mention Shekt and his young daughter Pola, are all Galactic spies out to stop them Arvardan, who has really come to Earth to prove his pet theory that this lowly planet is the actual cradle of mankind, falls in love with Pola at their first chance meeting But can this love struck pair Asimov describes their first kiss as limitless seas of sweetness , her aged physicist father, and the befuddled Schwartz, even with his newly acquired powers of rapid learning and mind control, avail against the massed might of the Ancients and their superweapon At one point toward the end of this complexly plotted narrative, an Earth colonel, apprised of recent events by Arvardan, replies A very confusing story, all this, and indeed, one of the principal virtues of Pebble in the Sky is its complicated story line The capsule description that I have just offered here does not even begin to suggest the many twists and turns, the labyrinthine machinations, that the book dishes out Fortunately for the reader, we have Isaac Asimov at the controls, an author who would later admit that clarity in writing as opposed to such authorial tools as elegant purple prose, experiments in technique, symbolism and suchlike was the ability he most hoped to achieve Thus, even in his first novel, Asimov maintains a firm grasp on the book s constantly shifting developments.Schwartz, obviously a Jewish character close to the author s Jewish heart, is a hugely sympathetic fellow for the reader to identify with, as is Arvardan, a Galactic citizen who is liberal enough to accept the low grade Earthfolk as equals, and even fall in love with an Earthwoman At times, the people of Earth almost seem like stand ins for the blacks and other minorities of Earth s mid 20th century Thus, we have a despicable Galactic lieutenant telling Arvardan what I can t understand is the working of the mind of an Earthie lover When a mancan get so low in filth as to crawl in among them and go nosing after their womenfolk, I have no respect for him He s worse than they areYou ve got a black Earthman s heart By the same token, it is clear that the relationship between the Jews here Schwartz, the Shekts and the Galactic Empire is meant to suggest a tip of the hat to the Jews and the Roman Empire back in Earth s ancient times, and if that analogy isn t apparent enough, Asimov tells us that the title of the Empire s resident chief representative in the radiation free Himalayas isProcurator Interestingly, in Asimov s first book, it is the rulers of Earth who are the bad guys indeed, the Secretary of Earth s High Minister is a villain in the hissable classic mold , while a pudgy, 20th century tailor two years over the limit for mandatory euthanasia and a scholarly Galactic citizen are our heroes The Ancients completely and repeatedly misconstrue Schwartz presence and all subsequent actions, in a series of events that might be comic, if they were not so dire for the galaxy at large Pebble In The Sky enjoys a very solid reputation today, almost 70 years since its release Writing in his Ultimate Guide to Science Fiction, Scottish critic David Pringle calls it good fun, although he has elsewhere admitted to having little enthusiasm for the author Sci fi writer L Sprague de Camp, however, has said that the suspense is almost unbearable in Pebble in the Sky, and indeed, the ticking clock finale in the book really is kind of harrowing Personally, I found the novel to be absolutely unputdownable, and tore through this one over the course of three very pleasant evenings.All of which is not to say, of course, that Pebble is a perfect creation Its story line is a little too dependent on multiple coincidences to move things along, and the reason why Schwartz is zapped into the future is never satisfactorily explainedat least, for this reader Indeed, the lab accident in the 20th century physics lab something to do with a flask of crude uranium that seems to precipitate Schwartz walking in the city many miles away 50,000 years into the future is of so vague a nature that Asimov can only tell us nuclear physics had queer and dangerous crannies left in it Almost as unconvincing is this business of the Earthfolk of G.E 827 being able to live in the radioactive pesthole that Earth has become with few ill effects by dint of a heightened immunity As a matter of fact, in his introduction to Pebble In The Sky s 1982 edition, Asimov would admit that he had indeed underestimated the potential lethal nature of radiation when he had written his novel 33 years earlier.But these are quibbles The bottom line is that Pebble in the Sky is a most impressive debut novel, both exciting and highly imaginative As it turned out, the book was just Part 1 in what would eventually become Asimov s loosely linked Galactic Empire trilogy Part 2, The Stars Like Dust, was released the following year, and that book is where this reader will be heading next By the way, this review originally appeared on the FanLit website at a most ideal destination for all fans of Isaac Asimov


  5. Jim Jim says:

    Another interesting look into Asimov s Empire This was the first published in the Empire series, but the 3d overall I wound up reading it first, but it fits in well with his Foundation trilogy The same themes, overarching history, such.This one deals with a man of today suddenly transplanted into a far flung future where Earth is a pariah among worlds He has to deal with a little wild tech, but mostly this concentrates on prejudice fanatics Well done, especially for the times Another interesting look into Asimov s Empire This was the first published in the Empire series, but the 3d overall I wound up reading it first, but it fits in well with his Foundation trilogy The same themes, overarching history, such.This one deals with a man of today suddenly transplanted into a far flung future where Earth is a pariah among worlds He has to deal with a little wild tech, but mostly this concentrates on prejudice fanatics Well done, especially for the times


  6. Michael Battaglia Michael Battaglia says:

    Don t you just hate those days when you re walking down the street just minding your own business and then suddenly poof you re in another time completely That s how Joseph Schwartz s day starts, and itor less goes downhill from there Before too long he s volunteered for a scientific experiment because everyone assumes he s mentally damaged due to nobody being able to understand a word he s saying, and vice versa, thanks to a several thousand year language gap and that, hey, it can t Don t you just hate those days when you re walking down the street just minding your own business and then suddenly poof you re in another time completely That s how Joseph Schwartz s day starts, and itor less goes downhill from there Before too long he s volunteered for a scientific experiment because everyone assumes he s mentally damaged due to nobody being able to understand a word he s saying, and vice versa, thanks to a several thousand year language gap and that, hey, it can t make him any worse So what if all the animals we ve tried it on so far have died This time s the charm Besides, it s not like he ll be able to complain to anyone And that s all before the plot really begins to start.The Empire novels are kind of the misbegotten children of the Asimov stable of SF novels Not only were they early works this is apparently his first real novel, unlike stuff like Foundation and I, Robot, which were collections of linked short stories but they don t have the thematic weight that the other series have, basically winding up being those stories that were set between the Robot and Foundation years, and even that was kind of determined after the fact There don t seem to be continuing characters and are essentially a trilogy in all but name.But even here Asimov clearly has something going for him His idea of the future is topsyturvy in parts, with Earth being radioactive and an extremely minor player in galactic affairs Everyone is ruled by a massive empire now and no one believes that they all came from Earth, except for some archeologists The plot of the novel sneaks up on you, where you think it s going to mostly be able Schwartz and his acclimation into future society, but he hardly even gets a chance to become used to his surroundings before people start chasing him in the name of science, until he gets the ability to fight back His injection into sideways politics, a bystander who manages to upend the scene, isn t what you normally saw in Golden Age SF of the time, generally your protagonist was a go getter space hero character, where nobody here falls into that category It gives a weird everyman perspective to events, which only makes it seem stranger because everything is new for us, but with all the rapid changes even the characters don t seem to know which end is up.It makes for fun reading when it gets going, which like most Asimov books it takes a bit to really kick into gear Still, even at this point in time he had some of his old tricks, his allergy to anything resembling action is already apparent, with the ending coming along as people walking in from offscreen mopping their brows and going Whew, that was tough I almost didn t think we d make it through It s the collision of ideas that sparks the mind here, as everyone tries to imagine the future in their own way, and coming to a type of happy medium doesn t seem to be an option He makes you care, even though the stakes aren t anything we can really relate to and our one viewpoint character is absent for good chunks of a fairly short novel to begin with.For amusement purposes, it s also interesting to see a future that doesn t seem to involve computers or the Internet or famously, robots, which would get him into a pickle later when he tried to link the series but there s a reason why SF never attempted to predict the future But Asimov started out strong and while he s not in his prime here, he clearly has a taken on the genre that s groundbreaking in its own way, even if itsa quiet revolution than anything else


  7. Davyne DeSye Davyne DeSye says:

    Very enjoyable This is Asimov s first science fiction novel published in 1950 , and is a wonderful example of the science fiction of the era.This book has time travel, a galaxy wide human civilization, deadly viruses, hyperspace, blasters plenty of the traditional early sci fi necessities.It starts with time travel Schwartz, a 60 year old retired tailor, is enjoying his morning walk in downtown Chicago Because of an unexpected phenomenon at a nearby research facility, Schwartz, between one Very enjoyable This is Asimov s first science fiction novel published in 1950 , and is a wonderful example of the science fiction of the era.This book has time travel, a galaxy wide human civilization, deadly viruses, hyperspace, blasters plenty of the traditional early sci fi necessities.It starts with time travel Schwartz, a 60 year old retired tailor, is enjoying his morning walk in downtown Chicago Because of an unexpected phenomenon at a nearby research facility, Schwartz, between one step and the next, is whisked forward in time some 10,000 years to a spot near the much smaller future city of Chica Believing himself to be insane or an awakening amnesiac, he makes his way to a nearby house Naturally, the people there cannot understand his spoken English, nor can he understand their language Believing him to be an imbecile since he doesn t know how to put on their style of clothing or understand anything around him , they take him to a hospital in Chica to be put under the experimental Synapsifier a device which allegedly improves brain function Unbeknownst to even the scientist operating the Synapsifier, not only does it improve Schwartz s ability learn, it eventually brings him the power to read minds Wow Great stuff Now, add in a megalomaniac high in Earth s government who intends to bring the entire galaxy to its knees with his secret weapon, an Outworlder archaeologist who wants to prove that Earth is the original planet of humanity against great opposition and a pretty girl, and you have a wonderful story full of all the classic science fiction action and adventure you could want.On this background, Asimov also delves into racial prejudice, decries the atom bomb and comments on political ineptitude, making the novel richer than it otherwise would be.This is also the last of the trilogy now dubbed The Galactic Empire series although it certainly was not written as a series and is a standalone novel , leading me with great excitement and pleasure to Asmiov s Foundation series Highly recommended to lovers of the Golden Age of science fiction


  8. Manny Manny says:

    He steps through a wormhole in space and ends up in a future world where he has exotic Super Powers Like what, I hear you ask Right, listen to this He can obtain a deadly attack as White from the variation of the Spanish which starts 1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Bb5 a6 4 Ba4 Nf6 5 Nc3 Impressive, huh I know Alekhine showed it was possible a couple of times And then there was the game Spassky won against Beliavsky in 1988 If you can play through that and not conclude that Boris had Super Power He steps through a wormhole in space and ends up in a future world where he has exotic Super Powers Like what, I hear you ask Right, listen to this He can obtain a deadly attack as White from the variation of the Spanish which starts 1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Bb5 a6 4 Ba4 Nf6 5 Nc3 Impressive, huh I know Alekhine showed it was possible a couple of times And then there was the game Spassky won against Beliavsky in 1988 If you can play through that and not conclude that Boris had Super Powers, then all I can say is that you re a farskeptical person than I am_________________________________Another demonstration of how Google is steadily depriving us of our sacred right to bullshit I figure I d better post this correction before someone else does.Well, it occurred to me this morning that some chess geek must have determined by now where the game in Pebble comes from It only took a minute of searching to find out it s Verlinsky Levenfish, 1924, with a slightly altered conclusion But here s the really annoying part The game is indeed a Spanish with 5 Nc3 I remembered that correctly Unfortunately, the guy with the Super Powers is Black I could have sworn on a stack of bibles that he was White.Oh well By the way, if you re curious, the same source revealed that the chess game in 2001 A Space Odyssey is Roesch Schlage, 1910 So now you know too


  9. Sesana Sesana says:

    Greatly entertaining, though that s no surprise After a somewhat slow start, it turns wonderfully tense Although this is the most cartoonish villain I ve encountered in an Asimov book, the rest of the characters have the same realness that I ve come to expect from his casts Even though the Galactic Empire books don t really relate to each other on a plot or character level, it s been interesting to watch the Empire develop from one book to the next I don t know yet how it will relate to th Greatly entertaining, though that s no surprise After a somewhat slow start, it turns wonderfully tense Although this is the most cartoonish villain I ve encountered in an Asimov book, the rest of the characters have the same realness that I ve come to expect from his casts Even though the Galactic Empire books don t really relate to each other on a plot or character level, it s been interesting to watch the Empire develop from one book to the next I don t know yet how it will relate to the later Foundation books, but I m still interested in going forward chronologically


  10. Cheryl Cheryl says:

    Wow Holds up very well Even to the point where it s the bad guys who diss the female I don t know how readers who have never read the old stuff will like it, but I was weaned on these kinds of stories, this kind of writing and I love it so much I can t fully explain why Very thoughtful, with great lines, plot, and ideas The future may not be futuristic enough but then, we are on a backwater, primitive planet or the politics complicated enough thank goodness, as I do not like intrigue , b Wow Holds up very well Even to the point where it s the bad guys who diss the female I don t know how readers who have never read the old stuff will like it, but I was weaned on these kinds of stories, this kind of writing and I love it so much I can t fully explain why Very thoughtful, with great lines, plot, and ideas The future may not be futuristic enough but then, we are on a backwater, primitive planet or the politics complicated enough thank goodness, as I do not like intrigue , but overall a surprisingly interesting and satisfying read What was left then, but short snorts, long naps, and slow madness