Speculative essays by the world-famous author of science and science-fiction on:
Life on other worlds
And much more…
“This one is not to be missed; it’s appeal is wide and timely, and it is one of those rare books that will provoke its readers to think.”—Madison Capital Times
“This is the many-interested, many-talented, many-insighted Dr. Asimov at his best…It’s simply the best Asimov collection in a long, long time.”—Analog
As a rule, I don’t like the non-F&SF essay collections as much as the others. Only a Trillion is something of an exception to this rule, but Is Anyone There? isn’t. The style and tone are more uneven and the topics less cohesive. The fact articles tend to be a bit shallower, too, as Asimov is usually writing for a general interest audience and not the intellectual elite that reads F&SF (OK, OK, so I’m exaggerating—slightly. But somehow I think it’s fair to assume that the average reader of F&SF has a slightly stronger background in science than the average reader of Mademoiselle or TV Guide. That’s all.)
There also tend to be a lot of the “keen-eyed peerer into the future” type articles (to coin a phrase). Thus we have here “The World of 1990,” which was published forty years ago now and is rather interesting to look at in terms of the real world of 1990. Of course, Asimov would have been as astonished as anybody if he got the real future anywhere close— but that’s the point, that these essays are mere fluff pieces commissioned by some editor somewhere and not really intended to be much. And there are the funny articles for TV Guide about “My Favorite Martian” and “My Living Doll.” And so on.
Plus, of course, the science articles are some forty years out-of-date. In this collection, this isn’t a disaster, but it does tend to lower my estimation of the whole thing.
So this collection is a decidedly mixed bag, not entirely satisfactory, but not entirely disappointing, either.