Isaac Asimov Short Stories

Isaac Asimov wrote hundreds of short stories, and is one of the best known writers from the Golden Age of Science Fiction.

“The Dead Past”

Arnold Potterley, a Professor of Ancient History, wants to use the chronoscope—a machine that can show a scene from the past—for his research on Carthage. The government maintains strict control over its use, and his request is denied. Frustrated, Potterley embarks on a plan to get around this restriction, which is professionally risky. The Potter’s infant daughter died in a fire many years ago.

Some of this story can be read in the preview of The Complete Stories, Vol 1(6% in)

“Introduction” & “Robbie”

The narrator has spent time at U.S. Robots without getting anything particularly interesting. The retiring head, Susan Calvin, opens up a little on robots as friends. She tells the story of Robbie, an early model, non-vocal robot sold as a nursemaid. Robbie and Gloria, a young girl, spend all their time together. Her mother has concerns about the robot companion.

These stories can be read in the preview of I, Robot(12% & 25% in)

“Robot Dreams”

Linda Rash, a robopsychologist, shows a master of the field, Susan Calvin, what has happened. Elvex, her robot, claims to have dreamed. Susan analyzes Elvex’s positronic brain patterns. Linda has applied fractal geometry to its brain to add complexity. Susan isn’t sure whether this is brilliant or disastrous.

This story can be read in the preview of the anthology Future on Ice(46% into preview)

“Little Lost Robot”

The Hyper Base station is on lockdown and all work has ceased. Susan Calvin and Peter Bogert have been brought to the station to assist. One of the robots failed to report. Normally, this wouldn’t be a major problem, but this robot is special—it was imprinted with a modified First Law of Robotics.

This is the first story in the preview of Robot Dreams.

“The Fun They Had”

In the year 2157 Tommy finds a real book. It is about how school was in the old days. He and Margie talk about how different school used to be with human teachers.

This story can be read in the preview of 50 Short Science Fiction Tales(Pg. 25)

“Cal”

Cal is a robot and his human master is a writer of crime fiction. Cal was designed to perform mundane tasks, and that’s all his master requires of him. Cal wants to write, like his master. They talk about the possibility, but Cal’s understanding is limited. The Three Laws of Robotics also prevent him from creating many situations that would arise in crime fiction. His master comes up with something.

Some of this story can be read in the preview of GoldAsimov’s last collection. (20% into preview)

“Reason”

QT-1 is an advanced robot assigned to work on a space station that provides energy to Earth. A week after it was assembled by Donovan and Powell, QT-1, known as Cutie, asks where it came from. Cutie doesn’t accept the explanation for his existence. He decides to reason it out for himself.

“A Statue for Father”

The narrator tells the story of his father, a theoretical physicist who researched time travel. He’s celebrated now, but it was a difficult climb. When time travel research fell out of favor, the dean forced him out. He continued the research independently with his son. Eventually, they succeeded in holding a window open long enough for the son to reach in. He brought back some dinosaur eggs.

“The Last Question”

Multivac is a supercomputer that analyzes, and provides solutions for, many human problems and questions. One day, in 2061, two of its attendants, Adell and Lupov, have a conversation about how long Earth’s energy will last. The output has already been drastically increased due to Multivac’s analysis. Still, they figure twenty billion years is probably the limit. They decide to ask Multivac how to massively decrease entropy in the universe.

“Left to Right”

Robert L. Forward, a research physicist, is explaining his new invention. It has a spinning ring of particles moving near the speed of light. Anything passing through the opening should experience a change in parity—a reversal of some sort. To effectively test it, he needs to use matter that is highly organized.

“Living Space”

Clarence Rimbro owns Earth—one of them. There are infinite Earths that support the population of one trillion humans. Getting to the original Earth is easy. He drives through it on the way home from work. Some people still choose to live there. One day, his wife, Sandra, tells him she heard a noise. This is highly unusual, so Clarence looks into it.

“It’s Such a Beautiful Day”

The Hanshaw’s day is upset when their Door breaks down. Richard can’t use it to get to school. He wants to stay home, but his mother tells him to go use a neighbor’s Door. This involves him walking out the front door, which he hardly knows how to use. Mrs. Hanshaw calls a repairman immediately. This trouble with the Door leads to Richard developing a neurosis.

“The Machine that Won the War”

Earth has just won a war against the Denebians. Major decisions in the war effort were made by a computer called Multivac. Earth’s citizens celebrate the machine, but three scientists reveal that Multivac’s role might not have been as impressive as is believed.

“Frustration”

Herman gets a visit from the Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Hargrove. He’s working on a computer program that would determine how to fight the most efficient war possible.

Read “Frustration”

“Rain, Rain, Go Away”

The Wrights and the Sakkaros are neighbors. The Sakkaros like to be out in the sun but they rush inside at the possibility of rain. The Wrights are curious about them, so they invite the Sakkaros’s out to a carnival.

Read here

“The Cross of Lorraine”

Rubin is hosting the monthly gathering of his club, the Black Widowers. Their custom is to have an interesting guest who agrees to answer all questions put to him. Tonight’s guest is the Amazing Larri, a stage magician who debunks supernatural claims. The conversation eventually turns to a mystery that even Larri can’t solve.

Read “The Cross of Lorraine”