THREE BY ASIMOV is number eleven of the TARG EDITIONS published in New York City on April 15th of 1981. Born of the musings of an Algonquin meeting and composed during Sirius’ February days, this book was designed and printed by hand on dampened sheets at the Grenfell Press in New York. The text, set in twelve point Bembo Monotype by the Stinehour Press in Luneburg, Vermont, is printed on J. Barcham Greene’s hand-made Cambersand, a 100% rag sheet. Bound in Belgian linen by hand by Colvin & Company and Leslie Miller, this first edition is limited to two hundred and fifty copies, each being signed by the author.
I long delayed purchasing a copy of this book; in my original review I said that I expected it to be among the last added to my Asimov collection.
One reason for this is that it consists of three rather weak stories, and to be frank, I don’t like any of them, least of all the execrable “True Love.” “Fair Exchange?” is possibly the best of the three, which is praising with faint damns indeed. As for “The Last Answer,” Asimov seems to have been fond of it, but I certainly am not—it’s talky and silly.
The other reason for delaying in purchasing this book is its cost. There were only 250 copies ever printed, and so the book is very expensive. I got a comparatively cheap copy at $195. For an eighteen-page book, that is decidedly steep and sets (I hope) a record high for a per-page cost of an Asimov book. (Ironically, the book is not the most difficult of Asimov’s books to acquire. There are many books by Asimov which are decidedly rarer, if not impossible altogether to find.)
There is one thing in favor of this book, and that is that it is gorgeously printed. It’s oversize, nearly the dimensions of a “legal sized” sheet of paper. The cover proper has a woven surface. The paper is ragged...well, just look above to what the publisher has to say about the volume.
And the stories have very nice line drawings—none of them really pertinent to the story, but they are nice.
This is by far the most beautiful of Asimov’s published works, even better than the overly elaborate Asimov’s Annotated “Don Juan” that Doubleday put out nearly a decade earlier. It is, however, really a shame that the contents are so unworthy of their pretty trappings.