Gold: The Final Science Fiction Collectionby Isaac Asimov
Gold is the final and crowning achievement of the fifty-year career of science fiction's transcendent genius, the world-famous author who defined the field of science fiction for its practitioners, its millions of readers, and the world at large. The first section contains stories that range from the humorous to the profound, at the heart of which is the title story, "Gold," a moving and revealing drama about a writer who gambles everything on a chance at immortality: a gamble Asimov himself made -- and won. The second section contains the grand master's ruminations on the SF genre itself. And the final section is comprised of Asimov's thoughts on the craft and writing of science fiction.
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The Final Science Fiction Collection
Jonas Willard looked from side to side and tapped his baton on the stand before him.
He said,"Understood now? This is just a practice scene, designed to find out if we know what we're doing. We've gone through this enough times so that I expect a professional performance now. Get ready. All of you get ready."
He looked again from side to side. There was a person at each of the voice-recorders, and there were three others working the image projection. A seventh was for the music and an eighth for the all-important background. Others waited to one side for their turn.
Willard said, "All right now. Remember this old man has spent his entire adult life as a tyrant. He is accustomed to having everyone jump at his slightest word, to having everyone tremble at his frown. That is all gone now but he doesn't know it. He faces his daughter whom he thinks of only as a bent-headed obsequious girl who will do anything he says,and he cannot believe that it is an imperious queen that he now faces. So let's have the King."
Lear appeared. Tall, white hair and beard, somewhat disheveled, eyes sharp and piercing.
Willard said, "Not bent. Not bent. He's eighty years old but he doesn't think of himself as old. Not now. Straight. Every inch a king." The image was adjusted. "That's right. And the voice has to be strong. No quavering. Not now. Right?"
"Right, chief," said the Lear voice-recorder, nodding.
"All right. The Queen."
And there she was, almost as tall as Lear, standing straight and rigid as a statue, her draped clothing in fine array, nothing out of place. Her beauty was as cold and unforgiving as ice.
"And the Fool."
A little fellow, thin and fragile, like a frightened teenager but with a face too old for a teenager and with a sharp look in eyes that seemed so large that they threatened to devour his face.
"Good," said Willard. "Be ready for Albany. He comes in pretty soon. Begin the scene." He tapped the podium again, took a quick glance at the marked-up play before him and said, "Lear!" and his baton pointed to the Lear voice-recorder, moving gently to mark the speech cadence that he wanted created.
Lear says, "How now, daughter? What makes that frontlet on? Methinks you are too much o'late i'th'frown."
The Fool's thin voice, fifelike, piping, interrupts, "Thou wast a pretty fellow when thou hadst no need to care for her frowning --"
Goneril, the Queen, turns slowly to face the Clown as he speaks, her eyes turning momentarily nto balls of lurid light -- doing it so momentarily that those watching caught the impression rather than viewed the fact. The Fool completes his speech in gathering fright and backs his way behind Lear n a blind search for protection against the searing glance.
Goneril proceeds to tell Lear the facts of life and there is the faint crackling of thin ice as she speaks, while the music plays in soft discords, barely heard.
Nor are Goneril's demands so out of line, for she wants an orderly court and there couldn't be one as long as Lear still thought of himself as tyrant. But Lear is in no mood to recognize reason. He breaks into a passion and begins railing.
Albany enters. He is Goneril's consort -- round-faced, innocent, eyes looking about n wonder. What is happening? He is completely drowned out by his dominating wife and by his raging father-in-law. It is at this point that Lear breaks nto one of the great piercing denunciations in all of literature. He is overreacting. Goneril has not as yet done anything to deserve this,but Lear knows no restraint. He says:
"Hear,Nature, hear! dear goddess, hear!
Suspend thy purpose, if thou didst intend
To make this creature fruitful.
Into her womb convey sterility;
Dry up in her the organs of increase;
And from her derogate body never spring
A babe to honour her! If she must teem,
Create her child of spleen, that it may live
And be a thwart disnatur'd torment to her.
Let it stamp wrinkles in her brow of youth,
With cadent tears fret channels in her cheeks,
Turn all her mother's pains and benefits
To laughter and contempt, that she may feel
How sharper than a serpent's tooth,it is
To have a thankless child!"
The voice-recorder strengthened Lear's voice for this speech, gave it a distant hiss, his body became taller and somehow less substantial as though it had been converted into a vengeful Fury.
As for Goneril, she remained untouched throughout, never flinching, never receding, but her beautiful face, without any change that could be described, seemed to accumulate evil so that by the end of Lear's curse, she had the appearance of an archangel still, but an archangel ruined. All possible pity had been wiped out of the countenance, leaving behind only a devil's dangerous magnificence.
The Fool remained behind Lear throughout, shuddering. Albany was the very epitome of confusion, asking useless questions, seeming to want to step between the two antagonists and clearly afraid to do so.
Willard tapped his baton and said, "All right. It's been recorded and I want you all to watch the scene." He lifted his baton high and the synthesizer at the rear of the set began what could only be called the instant replay.
It was watched in silence, and Willard said, "It was good, but I think you'll grant it was not good enough. I'm going to ask you all to listen to me, so that I can explain what we're trying to do. Computerized theater is not new, as you all know ...Gold
The Final Science Fiction Collection. Copyright © by Isaac Asimov. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
Meet the Author
To list Isaac Asimov's honors, as to list his books, would be excessive. Let it simply be noted that Isaac Asimov was the most famous, most honored, most widely read, and most beloved science fiction author of all time. In his five decades as an author, he wrote more than four hundred books, won every award his readers and colleagues could contrive to give him, and provided pleasure and insight to millions. He died in 1992, still at work.
- Date of Birth:
- January 20, 1920
- Date of Death:
- April 6, 1992
- Place of Birth:
- Petrovichi, Russia
- Place of Death:
- New York, New York
- Columbia University, B.S. in chemistry, 1939; M.A. in chemistry, 1941; Ph.D. in biochemistry, 1948
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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Ironically, even though this is one of the 'final' collections of Asimov's works, it is the first of his books that I read. It is divided into three parts. The first part has amazing short stories and the other two parts have essays about science fiction and writing science fiction. The entire book is wonderful. I read it during a vacation and I was actually more interested in reading the book than seeing the sights. Every single piece pulled me into the story. There was a good balance of seriousness and humor. Some stories were the kind you would read just for fun or a good laugh while others were more serious. Most were a little of both. The essays provided great insight about science fiction and about writing, probably because Asimov was an expert in these areas. I already liked science fiction before reading this book, but this book inspired me to become obsessed with it. Just read this book, and you'll become obsessed with Asimov and science fiction.
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This science fiction collection is one that is for the ones that don't like long novels and like short stories and how to write science fiction. This one is good if you like to read short stories and science fiction, but if you like a series and long gripping tales you might not like this one it is all a matter of opinion
Thank you for writing it! Sorry if it seemed kinda weird tht i asked you to write my story. It was really good! I really appreciate you doing that for me. Thanks again!
The leader of Streamclan, Dovestar, came forward. "One of our kits died from a hawk. Jaypaw was brave enough to save it, but failed and almost broke her paw. But she wears it with pride." Goldpaw looked at Jaypaw with her eyes. "Really?" She asked. "Yep." "That looks bad." Goldpaw pionted to her twisted paw. "It's alright. Like Dovestar already said, I wear it with pride." Then the leader of Marshclan came up and Dovestar step back. Oh no... Goldpaw thought. The Marshclan leader is going to say the battle! But all the Marshclan leader said was two new apprentices became warriors and now sitting vigil for the clan just like Wolfheart. The last leader came up and said that the deputy died and will appointed a new deputy at sunrise. Dovestar came up one last time. "One more announcement. Beware of three rouges with Streamclan scent. You do not want to mess around with them. Any more announcements?" All the leaders shook their head. "Then the gathering is over." Shadowstar meowed. "Come on, Jaypaw!" Two Streamclan apprentices who were unreconizable to Goldpaw urged Jaypaw. "I'm coming!" Jaypaw got up. "We might meet again, Goldpaw, also, keep a watch on those rouges." "I will." Goldpaw promised as Jaypaw padded over to her clanmates. Goldpaw got up and padded over to her clanmates. Author's note: this is not the author of Goldshine's story here. It is Jaysoar, the author of Jaysoar's story. The author asked me if I can continue the gathering for him/her because he/she ran out of ideas for the gathering. Take no credit to me. It is just a favor the author has asked me. To Nyanwolf/ author of Goldshine's story: I tried to copy what you do on your parts so it really looks like you made this instead of me. I did my best and tell everybody who read Goldshine's story up to this point that part ten is made. You can go back to making this story. May Starclan light your path...-Jaysoar