Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Tyrannosaurus Prescription

The Tyrannosaurus Prescription and 100 Other Essays
© 1989 Isaac Asimov
323  pages

I take for granted that I will enjoy a work by Asimov, particularly a collection of essays, but this made for a particularly enjoyable read. The Tyrannosaurus Prescription covers a lot of ground: while the initial sections of the book contain essays on the future, space, and science in general,  the book's large "Forwards" section spans much of the humanities (history, literature, linguistics) in addition to miscellaneous matters like dogs and fantasy. Asimov's essays on humanity's future were especially enjoyable for me to read, given that the essays were written decades ago and many are dated now. "The Globalized Computer Library", initially published in 1980, predates popular access to the Internet, but imagines a computer system like it -- although closer in spirit to the databases of Star Trek. He's a talented communicator, riveting me with his speculations on how humanity might begin to colonize the solar system. His own ideas emphasize the Earth-Moon system, but they won't be happening anytime soon. Coincidentally, as I read that particular section I heard news that the US is more or less canceling its lunar and Constellation project plans. The book ends with reflections on science fiction and a few personal essays coauthored by himself and Janet Asimov.

A book like this would have never been published without the author's name being the key selling point, however much I enjoyed it.  Although I don't know how many people would enjoy the book in total, the scope is so general and varied that I imagine anyone can enjoy at least some of it -- and readers who enjoy Asimov will be interested regardless. I enjoyed this more than I've enjoyed any Asimov work since reading Constantinople in the fall.

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