Frontiers II is Isaac Asimov’s last full-length science book—the final testament of his genius for taking the reader to the cutting edge of scientific investigation and discovery. Gathering 125 of the celebrated science essays that represented the climactic chapter of Asimov’s legendary writing career, this wonder-filled volume spans the full spectrum of the excitement and enlightenment that is science on the bring of tomorrow.
With the intrigue and accessibility of a scientific Ripley’s Believe It or Not, Asimov reveals a riviting array of modern science breakthroughs. How has the probing of proteins brought us insights into the oirgin of life? How far have we come on the path to producing life in a laboratory? What are the latest revelations about the nature of dinosaurs and the mystery of their extinction? What recent startling sightings of planets, stars, and galaxies have astronomers made? What is the current thinking on the possibilities of establishing human colonies on Mars? What do we now know about black holes—and can one of them actually have landed on earth? Can computer intelligence ever surpass human intelligence—or even that of a cockroach? What are the gravest dangers to our environment—and the best solutions to date?
These compelling and important questions and their fascinating answers are but a sampling of the treasures that Isaac Asimov and his wife and collaborator Janet Asimov have searched out and translated into marvelously clear prose. It may be said that the guiding principle of Isaac Asimov’s life and work was that the knowledge and power of science should be for everyone to enjoy and employ. It is fitting that as scientifically illuminating a book as FRONTIERS II should be his parting gift to us all.
Like Frontiers: New Discoveries About Man and His Planet, Outer Space and the Universe, this is a selection of science columns Asimov wrote for the Los Angeles Times Syndicate. As Asimov’s health deteriorated, however, it became necessary for him to drop the column (as he did his F&SF essays), and it was taken over by his wife, Janet, who wrote or co-wrote about a quarter of the book.
The book suffers from the same defects as Frontiers—a certain choppiness, and the continual danger of commenting on results before they are disproved—and has the same strengths. It does have one additional weakness, however: it’s not any kind of insult to Janet Asimov to say that she isn’t as good as Isaac was. Her essays are fine, really, but they tend to suffer in comparison and bring the overall impression of the book down.