Monday, December 6, 2010

The Gods Themselves

Parallel Universes. Academic Politics. Alternative Energy. Interesting Science. Fascinating Aliens. The 1973 Hugo award winning novel The Gods Themselves by Isaac Asimov is a story about an energy technology created by the interaction of a parallel universe—one with different physical laws— and our own. I liked the novel, despite the slow moving plots and emphasis on politics in scientific circles.

The book is divided into three main sections. The middle section contains a story about life forms in a parallel universe. This section made the book memorable and worthwhile. The life forms were interesting and unique. I even found myself getting emotionally attached to the little fellows. The ending of the section was satisfying and surprising.

Some of the discussion in the book is timeless. A major part of the plot deals with the safety of the energy technology. If I hadn’t known that the book was written in the early 70’s, I would have thought it was inspired by the politics of Climate Change and Global Warming:

"It is a mistake,” he said, “to suppose that the public wants the environment protected or their lives saved and that they will be grateful to any idealist who will fight for such ends. What the public wants is their own individual comfort."
Asimov also offers wisdom on how to counteract some of those arguments. I think the Hugo voters got this one right.

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