Asimov overview and recommended reading order

Discussion in 'Isaac Asimov' started by Bierschneeman, May 24, 2018.

  1. Bierschneeman

    Bierschneeman Well-Known Member

    First the overview and list of books in "in universe" chronology

    Foundation Universe Overview.

    The following are in the universe
    the next three are skippable because they are only referenced in later books, BUT END OF ETERNITY is the best standalone Asimov wrote
    Fantastic Voyage 2 (but not one, this isn't a sequel despite the name)
    The End of Eternity

    The Robot Anthology series (honestly read I Robot, then skip the rest until Positronic Man)
    I Robot
    The Rest of the Robots
    The Complete Robot
    Robot Dreams
    Robot VIsions
    Positronic Man ( I have not read this, but it is a fll novel based on the Bicentennial Man Short Story)

    The Robot Detective Series
    1. Casves of Steel
    2. Naked Sun
    3. Robots of dawn
    5. Robots and Empire

    The Empire Series (skip the first two for sure)
    1. Stars Like Dust
    2. Currents in Space
    3. Pebble in the Sky (Have not read, but I just found a copy at the recycling center.)

    Foundation Series
    1. Foundation
    2. Foundation and Empire
    3. Second Foundation
    4. Foundation's Edge
    5. Foundation and Earth

    Foundation Prequels (technically come before Foundation DO NOT READ THEM BEFORE Foundation)
    1. Prelude to Foundation
    2. Forward to Foundation

    NOT in the foundation universe
    The Gods themselves (worth reading the first third of the book. the second, is at least one of the most ambitious and well written pieces in fiction, the down side it is so jarring against the rest of the book that it brings down the quality and appeal of the whole book.)
    the Norby Series (NOT ISAAC, its his wifes he just put his name on it to get it to sell. THESE SUCK)
    the Lucky Starr Space Opera seies (not read)
    The Black Widows (Anthology)(not Read)
    Buy Jupiter (Anthology) (its okay)
    Nightfall (the book not the Anthology, not read)
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  2. Bierschneeman

    Bierschneeman Well-Known Member

    Now reading orders and brief summary

    if you only plan to read one book, in foundation universe (or Asimov in general). "end of eternity" it is a fantastic time travel novel with a lot of great spins of logic. the bonus being it stands alone , you need no prerequisites and can read it without being tempted to see what happens next. the downside is you are missing out on his best stuff.

    but, if you want to read anywhere between 3 books and the whole set. START WITH FOUNDATION the original trilogy.

    IMHO the best 5 books in the whole universe (foundation that is) not in order. book two in foundation, "foundation and Empire" book three in the robot detective series, "Robots of Dawn" , book one on the prequel series "Prelude to Foundation", book one of the anthology series "i, robot" (you can read conplete robot instead)and "end of eternity"

    don't discount the robot detective series, it's really well done, and sets up a lot of what happens next (onwards to all that is next) and if you read passed foundation, it is best to have already read them than to go back.

    skip galactic Empire, the first two are poor space operas written like dimestore spy novels. pebble... might be worth it I have not read it.

    Fantastic Voyage was written as a short story by guy A) then a screenplay by Guy B) then a tv mini series by Guy C), Asimov is quick with the pen though, so when the screen play was finished he was tasked with writing a novelization, he managed to get the book released BEFORE the mini series, leaving America thinking the book came first, and that Asimov did it all.

    I HATED the book, because it is written like a screenplay, and it has all the bad plot points that the movie had (because he wasn't allowed to change ANYTHING, except some science things they got wrong.)

    number 2, is his version. but it is not a sequel, its like a reimagining. This one is much better, the plot is easier to follow, doesn't have bad twists that make you groan. The characters are move likable and less twodimensional.
    This is why I gave one, a 4. and two a 7.5.It also serves as part of the Foundation Universe. This story shows the inspiration for the Positronic Brain (in universe).

    If you read them all, do it in chronology as above, BUT read Foundation trilogy First, then Robot Detectives, and the two sequels after. If you end up reading the stand alones you can pick and choose when, I recommend after you read the Foundation series. hmm better yet,. here:
    Foundation Trilogy
    Stand Alones
    Robot Anthologies (you can just read I,robot and Positronic man)
    Robot Detectives
    (skip Empire trilogy)
    Foundation sequels
    Foundation Prequels.
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  3. Bierschneeman

    Bierschneeman Well-Known Member


    I didn't rate everything, Anthologies for instance are hard to rate for me, they are so jarring
    I'll give I,Robot a 9/10 because at least it is compiled into one complete story. (I gave it a free star too, because I am biased against Anthologies)

    Nemesis 6/10
    End of Eternity 10/10
    The Gods Themselves 8/10
    Foundation 9/10
    Foundation and Empire 10/10
    Second Foundation 8.5/10
    Foundation's Edge 7.5/10
    Foundation and Earth 9/10
    Prelude to Foundation 10/10
    Forward to Foundation 9/10

    Janet Asimov's Norby books, I read three of them, averaging at 3/10
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  4. Boreas

    Boreas n log(log n) Staff Member

    Whether you read the first three Robot novels first or the original Foundation trilogy first doesn't really matter. But if you do read the Foundation trilogy first, then I think it's better to read some of the Robot novels next before going back to the Foundation sequels/prequels.
  5. Bierschneeman

    Bierschneeman Well-Known Member

    I disagree with the first part(because the robot detective makes references to foundation that will be lost on the reader, but foundation has no references to robot detectives because it was written first and was not in the same universe yet) but agree whole heartedly with the second

    but that' an opinion. and I'm not that defensive about it.
  6. Boreas

    Boreas n log(log n) Staff Member

    Not for the first three Robot novels, which are just regular detective novels with Lije and R. Daneel. It's the fourth Robot book that acts as a segue to the larger future history, if I remember correctly.
  7. Bierschneeman

    Bierschneeman Well-Known Member

    all three make reference to the foundation series or the empire series. it is subtle enough to get lost if you read them first.

    the reason caves of steel was written was because Asimov wanted to merge the empire novels, the foundation, and the robot short stories into one human history. so the references are there, and get more frequent and less easy to ignore as the books go on.
  8. Bierschneeman

    Bierschneeman Well-Known Member

    this is also why I recommended I robot before caves of steel. as the references to empire and foundation increase, the robot short story references decrease.
  9. Boreas

    Boreas n log(log n) Staff Member

    I'm a little confused...I don't see how the Robot novels can make reference to either the Empire or Foundation works since the Robot stories/novels are earliest by internal chronology. There are "spacers" mentioned in the Robot novels, but they have nothing to do with either Empire or Foundation since those don't yet exist.

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