Three short stories written by Isaac Asimov that appeared in The Saturday Evening Post during 1974 and are being reprinted with his permission.
Benjamin Franklin’s dreams of a nation of free men were vital to the birth of the United States. The ghost of Franklin learns that some of his dreams came true and that some are still elusive hopes.
In these “dreams” he describes his visions of a Bicentennial worthy of the great American nation.
This is an odd little book, and not one that I’m terribly fond of. It consists of three of the four stories Asimov wrote at the request of the Saturday Evening Post, wherein he portrays himself as being visited by Benjamin Franklin in a series of dreams. Franklin queries Asimov about the state of the country and offers a suggestion as to how it could properly celebrate its bicentennial.
The book was privately printed by the New York branch of the Printers’ Union. Every year, they held a banquet to celebrate Franklin’s birthday and published a small book of interest to Franklin enthusiasts as part of the event. In this case, they took three of Asimov’s four stories in the Saturday Evening Post and reprinted them using the stories’ titles as the title of the book. Asimov never found out why they left out the fourth story, “Party by Satellite,” but it is available as an ebook, part of a series which also includes the other three as independent ebooks. I don’t know the history behind their publication, but they appear to be legitimate.
There are a couple of things which help lower my appreciation of the book. One is the fact that Asimov seems to write better work when he isn’t writing something specifically commissioned. This is certainly true of his non-fiction essays, and it is true of these three stories.
Another is that I’m simply not as fond of Franklin as Asimov was and tend to be distracted whenever Asimov drags him in. Given the book’s intended audience, I imagine that there were some Franklin enthusiasts who got annoyed whenever Asimov dragged himself in. Turnabout is fair play, after all.
In any event, the stories are not terribly memorable. Asimov never anthologized them elsewhere, but since they can be found easily enough as ebooks, one can read them easily enough if one wants. This is a volume only for completists.