Intrepid astronauts go to Callisto to solve the mystery of why no expeditions to the planet have ever returned. It’s a stowaway, however, who proves the hero of the hour when they are themselves attacked by the moon’s killer slugs.
Well, this is Asimov’s first written story to see publication (as opposed to “Marooned Off Vesta,” which he wrote later but sold earlier). It’s pretty bad. The astronomy is ludicrous even by 1930’s standards, the story silly, the danger so laughable that it belongs on a TV show like “Lost in Space” or “Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea.” This is among the most “pulpish” of Asimov’s early efforts, writing a story much too much locked into the stereotypes of pre-Campbell sf to be of any inherent interest to a later, more sophisticated audience (which is why it would do well on TV).
But it’s Asimov’s first “successful” sf story (and has a narrator named Jenkins, to boot!), and so has a certain amount of historical significance. And it’s worth a laugh, perhaps, to read. It is certainly a most inauspicious start to a glorious career. So it gets a relatively high rating—not because it’s any good, but because no Asimov fan should fail to read it. Maybe even more than once. (And did I mention that the narrator’s name is Jenkins?)
|The Early Asimov|