Toby Hahn's Review on Pebble in the Sky

Pebble in the Sky Book Review

Pebble in the Sky was Isaac Asimov's first novel. It is part of the Empire series, which takes place in the Foundation universe. The Foundation series won a Hugo Award for “Best All-Time Series” in 1966. Pebble in the Sky was first written as a short story called “Grow Old Along with Me” and submitted to Startling Stories. It was rejected because the magazine's usual genre was adventure instead of science fiction. The story was then accepted by the Doubleday publishing company, as long as Asimov would expand it to 70,000 words and give the book a name that sounded more like a science fiction book. In 1951, a radio adaption, written by Ernest Kinoy, was aired on NBC. However, the radio adaption left most of the plot points out, including the entire concept of time travel.

In Pebble in the Sky, a man named Joseph Schwartz is inadvertently transported into the future because of an accident regarding a uranium sample at a nearby laboratory. He stumbles to the house of a couple who take him in nervously. They do this because the law is that anyone over sixty will be killed. They are hiding a relative who is over sixty, and they are worried Schwartz is a government agent. Earth is radioactive, and oppressed by the galactic empire who see earth's natives as a lesser race. Earth has attempted to rebel multiple times in the past. Schwartz is taken by the couple to a trial for a machine that is said to activate the synapses in the brain and make the subject smarter. Schwartz gains increased mental powers from the machine, allowing him to harm or even kill a person. Schwartz, the machine's inventor, his daughter, and an archeologist named Bel Avardan discover a plot by religious fanatics on earth to release a virus that would wipe out all the other planets. They are able to stop it, however, using Schwartz's mental powers. In the radio adaption, however, the rebels on Earth succeed in releasing the virus, making Earth the only planet left living in the galaxy, therefore the earth is a pebble in the sky.

There is a conflict in this book. The type of conflict is person versus society, because the conflict is Bel Avardan (who is from the Empire) trying to avoid the prejudices of the Empire when dealing with Earth. He has a very unpopular theory that Earth is the planet that humanity began on, which is proven in another Foundation universe novel, Foundation and Earth. The people of Earth are looked down upon by the Empire, and Avardan has to deal with this while trying to prove his theory.

My favorite character would have to be Joseph Schwartz, because of his unique mental abilities and predicament. Seeing him gradually become aware of his mental abilities and learning how to use them makes him a very interesting character. I think one of the ideas in this book is that keeping a group of people oppressed for a long time is a bad thing and can have dangerous results.

I cannot relate to this book because the characters and events in this book are so different than my life, because it is a science fiction book. What happens in this book is as far as we know impossible, so I can't relate to it. Although, I have trouble relating to books in general, even books that are not science fiction books. The fact that it is a science fiction book and the events within are impossible is just a reason that springs to mind. It may be the reason for this particular book, but since I have trouble relating to books other than science fiction books, there may be another reason.

However, I did enjoy this book. It is an exciting read that provides an interesting view of Asimov's Foundation universe. On the downside, the plot can be shallow, as much of it hinges on the coincidence of Schwartz being transported to the future and gaining mental powers that inevitably happen to save the galaxy. Pebble in the Sky lacks the deep and engaging plot of Asimov's Foundation series, but it is still an exciting and interesting book that is definitely worth your time.