Asimov on Today
Can we reset our biological clocks?…What are those mountains doing flying around in space?…Does the romance of life flourish on Mars?…Is there more to air than we think?
How can a cold, two-week lunar night benefit mankind?…Could the moon offer a safer environment than earth?…Why is it vital for women to get into outer space?…How do science fiction writers predict the future?
much, much more in this intriguing compendium of fascinating facts about our universe and ourselves.
As a rule, I don’t like Asimov’s non-F&SF essay collections as well as the F&SF ones: the style and tone are generally mixed, and there’s usually an awful lot of overlap in terms of contents.
This one, however, I think is unusually important.
For one thing, written as some of the essays are around the time of the Apollo 11 flight, Asimov has several essays on his rationales for the need for space flight, both the Apollo program itself and its logical continuation (which we have yet to make). He also editorializes on the need for women in space—which we have done—and has an essay which forms the germ for his description of lunar society in The Gods Themselves.
He also has, as usual, a couple of essays on overpopulation, and “The End” is particularly good because it actually includes the equations one can use it understanding how a geometric progression works.
And there’s an essay pushing for the metric system, “How Many Inches in a Mile?” which is definitely among my favorites, and the result of which I can answer that there are 63,360 inches in a mile in case anybody wants to know.
These are just the highlights. Much of the rest is pretty standard fare, nothing unusual or surprising, but there are a few other essays which are unusual and stand out. The result is one of the stronger of the non-F&SF essay collections, one that readily compares to its generally better siblings.