Saturday, October 17, 2009


I decided, rather unwisely I'll admit, to read a novel this weekend. Asimov's Robots of Dawn. I was feeling swamped and in need of eloquence and adventure, and old Issac certainly provided.

A few comments, then.

"If the World of Dawn had a quite, sunlit Day, who on that world would clamor for a storm?"

This is a thought of Baley's to himself, reflecting on the peaceful, pleasant stagnation the extra-terrestrial human societies find themselves in. Specifically, he's speaking of the planet Aurora (ie: "Dawn"), the first human settlement. Simple enough statement, but it is a very eloquent summary of quite of bit of story-development. What amused me about this was that Asimov had seemingly been carrying about this little bit of poetry for a very long time; some of his earlier short stories contained references to "Aurora" and its clearly meant to be the same place. It made me wonder if he'd been waiting to use that turn of phrase for years and years, or if it fortuitously presented itself to him as he was writing this latter work.

More broadly, I continue to be impressed by how deeply human Asimov's writing is. The backdrop is technological, but the stories themselves are always much more about probing sensitive parts of human nature (though after all, we are really, really cool technology). His sense of humor and gravity both delight me. I laughed out loud and at length several times during the book, and several times I was impressed by its apparent (though subtle) profundity.

And unlike much of the sci-fi that has followed him, Asimov seems exuberantly hopeful about humanity's future, and confident that we can use technology for positive purposes.

But, now, I should really return to what I'm supposed to be doing; which is math.