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Mass Market Paperback The Winds of Change Book

ISBN: 0345311884

ISBN13: 9780345311887

The Winds of Change

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Book Overview

Asimov at his best! A 21-story salute featuring: * A levitating professor * Alien traders bringing something to sell * A black hole hurtling toward Earth * The universe being created * And many other matters of great import!

Customer Reviews

4 ratings

the meaning of life

Awesome short stories with the best one i've ever read, "The last answer". It's worth getting for this short story alone. Find out what the last answer really is. is after all what we are all here for. Ominous.


"The Winds of Change...and Other Stories" is a 1983 collection of Isaac Asimov's latter-day short pieces; just one of the 506 books he came out with during the course of his incredibly prolific career. The 21 stories in this collection were, with two exceptions, written between 1976 and 1982, and all display the clarity of thought, wit and erudition that are the hallmarks of all of Doc Ike's work. Four of the stories in this collection--"About Nothing," "Death of a Foy," How It Happened" and "Sure Thing"--are short shorts, or "vignettes," as Asimov calls them. Most of these are mere setups to terrible puns; puns that do leave a goofy grin on the reader's face, however. "A Perfect Fit" presents us with a world in which computers are so ubiquitous that the poor individual who is computer illiterate is quite unable to function; a world, perhaps, not so distant from where we are today! In "Belief" (1953), a college professor discovers that he has mysteriously acquired the ability to levitate. The problems that attend his newfound power make up the basis for this consistently amusing tale. "Fair Exchange?" is a time-travel paradox story that shows off Asimov's love of the operettas of Gilbert & Sullivan. This compactly written story leads to a surprisingly tragic conclusion. In "For the Birds," a fashion designer is asked to construct wings for the residents of a low-gravity space settlement. His design solution for the inhabitants of the orbiting colony is both delightful and surprising, culminating in a wonderful final line. In "Found!," one of my favorite stories of the bunch, a man-and-woman team of computer technicians encounters an unknown space parasite whilst repairing the Earth-orbiting Computer-Two. This is a fairly creepy tale of first contact that ends on a distinct note of paranoia. Nice job, Doc Ike! "Good Taste," another of my faves, presents us with the Lunar-orbiting space colony of Gammer, and deals with an annual contest that determines which resident has come up with the year's finest fungal delicacy. Asimov throws in much background detail to make his story fleshed out and believable. "Ideas Die Hard" (1957) is a story that Asimov himself says (in his intro; he introduces ALL the stories in this book, incidentally) is dated. It concerns two astronauts who are making Earth's first voyage to the Moon, and the stresses, both physical and psychological, that they endure. Dated or not, I still enjoyed this one. "Ignition Point!" gives us a company of the future whose computer can write speeches guaranteed to "ignite" any audience. But things work a little too well, in this well-done and cautionary tale. "It Is Coming," another story of first contact, tells of an approaching alien ship, and how Earth's supercomputer, Multivac, assists in the looming crisis. It is a fairly suspenseful tale that also ends on an ominous note. "The Last Answer" is one of the more unusual stories of the bunch. Not sci-fi, it describes one man's experience

All stories either make you think or groan

Isaac Asimov was an excellent writer, with a range of coverage that no one else has ever achieved. This book is a collection of his science fiction short stories, and each is either thought provoking or good for a groan at the end. The first takes up less than a page and ends with one of the best/worst puns that you will ever encounter. The last story, where the title of the book is derived, is considered by Asimov to be the best in the collection. I disagree, considering it to be the worst. It is a blast at the Moral Majority movement, and while I have no real affection for them, the story does not deliver a real blow to their position. Twelve of the fourteen pages of the story are a constant dialogue by a member of the Moral Majority that is a harangue of his colleagues in the physics department. I lost interest about halfway through it. The other stories are much better, with my favorite being "Found!" which is about an interstellar virus that attacks metallic objects. Sunlight is used as an energy source and the metal is used to reproduce. The viruses are damaging satellites and humans are sent to investigate why they are failing. What I found appealing about the story is that it is so plausible. So many stories about the arrival of life from outside the solar system are based on that life being intelligent. However, the evolutionary development of life dictates that primitive life is much more likely to be found, and would be much more capable of successfully traveling across interstellar distances. Therefore, it is more reasonable to believe that any life that manages to arrive at our planet would be a primitive form that feeds on sunlight and minerals, the two things that it will be more likely to find. Overall, the stories are very good. My only other complaint is that some of them first appeared in other venues, which is where I read them for the first time.

A Good Collection of Short Stories

In this collection there are twenty-one short stories that run the gamut from humorous to profound. Included with the stories are small introductions by Isaac Asimov. Two of the stories, Belief and Ideas Die Hard, were written in the 1950's. The former is a charming story about a physicist who finds he can levitate. The latter is a good but self admitted out of date story about travel to the moon. The other nineteen stories were written in the late seventies and early eighties. They cover a variety of topics including alien traders, computer illiteracy, the creation of the universe, the last shuttle leaving earth, a clothes designer and much more. It's unreasonable to expect that you'll like every story in any collection of short stories. However, The Winds of Change has more hits than misses. I think fans of Asimov would enjoy this book.
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