Friday, August 19, 2011

Asimov's books: 1953

Lucky Starr and the Pirates of the Asteroid, as Paul French (Doubleday)

Asimov wrote the series near the beginning of the Cold War, when many concerned scientists, engineers and educators in the United States felt that their country, and the group of nations they identified as the Free World, was falling behind the Communists and the Eastern Bloc in scientific research and engineering developments. In this context, it was important that the youth of the country be given a solid scientific start, and the adventures of David Starr were as a result rather didactic in nature, despite all the action involved.

He carefully introduced astronomical and physical concepts which the scientific knowledge of the time supported. In later editions, he added a preface pointing out that new scientific discoveries have rendered some locations and concepts obsolete: Mercury does not only present one side to the Sun, and Venus is not covered by a global ocean, for example. The books offer more action scenes than Asimov's usual quota, but they are still filled with the scientific and sociological concerns Asimov used in all of his other fiction.

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