mgr's weblog


April 11, 2009, Literature

"Funny, funny word play! … I'd like to tell them, 'Look, madam, why the hell should we be interested in your damned world? We don't want to be hanging on the outside of any planet and waiting to fall off or get blown off. We don't want raw air puffing at us and dirty water falling on us. We don't want your damned germs and your smelly grass and your dull blue sky and your dull white clouds. We can see Earth in our own sky when we want to, and we don't often want to. The Moon is our home and it's what we make it; exactly what we make it. We own it and we build our own ecology, and we don't need you here being sorry for us going our own way. Go back to your own world and let your gravity pull your breasts down to your knees.' That's when I'd say."

Isaac Asimov, The Gods themselves, 1972, pp. 233/234.

Nice and well written book. Physics, science fiction, sex education / facts of life, emancipation of women. Really a book of the seventies!

Thanks, Johann, for the recommendation and for lending it to me!

The English Wikipedia mentions an interesting comment by Isaac Asimov concerning the middle section of the book:

Asimov was also criticized for the general absence of sexuality and of extraterrestrial life in his science fiction. Asimov once explained that his reluctance to write about aliens came from an incident early in his career when Astounding's editor John Campbell rejected one of his early science fiction stories because the alien characters were portrayed as superior to the humans. He decided that, rather than write weak alien characters, he would not write about aliens at all. Nevertheless, in response to these criticisms he wrote The Gods Themselves, which contains aliens, sex, and alien sex. Asimov said that of all his writings, he was most proud of the middle section of The Gods Themselves, the part which deals with those themes.

Isaac Asimov, I, Asimov: A Memoir, 1994, New York: Doubleday, p. 250.

The English Wikipedia, the page on Isaac Asimov, section Criticisms, online, accessed April 11th, 2009.

The little excerpt you've already read would generally be enough for me but on the first page of the book there is such a nice and well selected section of a conversation that's actually taken from the second half of the first part of the book. In short words it depicts the main topic of the book. Here you go:

'Then why worry?'

'Because, sir, upon the strength of the strong nuclear interaction rests the rate at which hydrogen fuses to helium in the core of the Sun. If the interaction strengthens even unnoticeably, the rate of hydrogen fusion in the sun will increase markedly. The Sun maintains the balance between radiation and gravitation with great delicacy and to upset that balance in favour of radiation, as we are now doing—'


'—will cause an enormous explosion. Under our laws of nature, it is impossible for a star as small as the Sun to become a supernova. Under the altered laws, it may not be. I doubt that we would have warning. The Sun would build up to a vast explosion and in eight minutes after that you and I will be dead and the Earth will quickly vaporize into an expanding puff of vapor.'

pp. 1 & 56.

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