Isaac Asimov

Isaac Asimov



Isaac Asimov

The Gods Themselves by Isaac Asimov
Discussion Questions

  1. Were the scientific theories Asimov employs to stitch his plot together clearly explained? Why was the earth in danger by participating in the energy transfer? Why was the energy technology developed on the moon better? Is it important that readers understand the scientific processes involved?
  2. How does Asimov portrays scientists? Is it a realistic depiction?
  3. Do all theories merit equal weight? Should we sort out the probable from the highly unlikely? If we dismiss unlikely theories, could we miss out on new directions? Is a theory better just because it is novel or anti-establishmentarian?
  4. Is it dangerous to harness great scientific advancements as quickly as they did in this book?
  5. Asimov's inspiration for the title of the book is a quotation by German poet and playwright Friedrich Schiller: "Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain." How is this saying appropriate to the novel?
  6. Although the title implies that some situations are insurmountable, in each section of the book an individual seeks to challenge prevailing opinions (and is sometimes joined by a few allies). What characteristics do Peter Lamont, Dua, and Benjamin Denison share? Are they the “heroes” of the story?
  7. Does the situation Lamont faces remind you of the debate on evolution, global warming, or other scientific and political controversies?
  8. How would an investigator such as Peter Lamont pursue his investigation in today’s media environment, as compared to how it was portrayed in 1972 when this book was published?
  9. Is it realistic that if a major scientific find was not understood at all, a "Hallam" would try to take credit?
  10. What is your take on Hallam’s personality? Did you feel sympathy for him at all? What are his motives for destroying Lamont’s career?
  11. Describe the relationship between Lamont, the theorist, and Bronowski, the linguist. What role does each fill in their partnership?
  12. A politician who meets with Lamont says he will not attempt to stop the pump’s operation without concrete proof that Lamont’s theory is right. Is he being a pragmatist or a coward? Is he motivated by fear or something else? Is Lamont behaving rashly?
  13. The parallel universe is inhabited by “hard ones” and three types of “soft ones.” Rationals ("lefts") are logical and scientific, Emotionals ("mids") are intuitive, and Parentals ("rights") bear and raise the offspring. How are the three genders restricted by social norms of expected and acceptable behavior? How do the members of the triad relate to one another? Did you get a sense of their inner lives?
  14. Why did Asimov assign the gender terms he did to each kind of soft one: Rationals and Parentals are male and Emotionals are female? Why are all the hard ones male?
  15. What is the relationship of the hard ones to the soft ones? What is their role in soft one society? How does each type of soft one regard the hard ones? Do you think that the hard ones are human (or human-like)?
  16. When the soft ones “melt,” a euphemism for sexual intercourse, does it relate at all to human sexuality? Is Asimov playing with the ideas of bisexuality (or trisexuality) or a ménage a trois, or is the experience too different to be described in these “earth” terms? Why can’t the members of the triad remember their existence as Estwald during these periods?
  17. The hard ones put the value of their world over the value of the universe from which they draw energy. At first glance this seems horribly callous, but it is revealed that if the pump stops their world will be without energy. Does this explanation justify or make their decision more acceptable in your eyes?
  18. Do you think that once the final melt of the triad is made and the triad permanently merges to become Estwald, he will retain his memories of Dua’s attempt to stop the pump and her reason for doing so? Will he search for a new way to operate the pump that does not put the other universe in jeopardy?
  19. Is this part of the book confusing? Did you have a difficult time picturing this universe and its inhabitants? How does language succeed and fail in describing the parallel universe and its inhabitants?
  20. Is it significant that Benjamin Denison, whose snide remark to Hallam in part one inspired Hallam to pursue the perplexing change in his tungsten sample, is now trying to find a way to alleviate the destructive power of the electron pump? What motivates him?
  21. Selene Lindstrom, the Lunarist tour guide and intuitionist, is initially suspicious and distrustful of Denison. Why does her attitude towards him change?
  22. Why is Baron set against Denison’s plans to use the moon as a base for his new process, which will nullify the destructive exchange of electrons inherent in the current energy pump? How would you characterize Baron’s personality?
  23. This section has the most political bent of the three parts. What did you think of Asimov’s presentation of the political alliances on the moon? Was it realistic?
  24. Lunar residents have to give up (or have never experienced) many of the pleasures and conventions of life on earth. Do they resent these challenges or consider them a badge of honor? What do they think of earth-born humans?
  25. What did you think of the Asimov’s portrayal of sexuality and modesty on the moon versus the earth? Did it makes sense to you, or was he trying to shock his readers? Do you think life is better or more rational on the earth or the moon?
  26. Denison and Lamont’s solution for the danger posed by the electron pump is supposedly harmless to the third parallel universe it involves because that universe is in a pre-big bang state and probably does not have intelligent life forms. Do you agree with this assessment or do you think it is short-sighted? Why?
  27. Were you disappointed that the inhabitants of the parallel universes were not able to meet or communicate clearly at the end of the novel? What might have happened if they were able to communicate?


About the author and book

Isaac Asimov was born in Petrovichi (then in the Soviet Union, now in Russia) in 1920, but moved to Brooklyn with his family at age three. He taught biochemistry at Boston University until he retired in 1958 to become a full-time writer. Asimov had been publishing short stories since the late 1930s ("Nightfall" is often called the finest science-fiction short story ever written), and in 1952 published his first novel. The author of the classic I, Robot series and The Foundation Trilogy, Asimov wrote more than 400 books (some sources say 500) and won every major science fiction award. He also wrote popular books and essays on science and technology, earning him the nickname "The Great Explainer." He died on April 6, 1992. While the cause was initially reported as heart and kidney failure, ten years after his death it was revealed that these problems were complications of an HIV infection he contracted from a transfusion of tainted blood during a triple-bypass operation in 1983.

The Gods Themselves (1972) was originally published in magazine form as three consecutive stories. It won the Nebula Award (1972) and the Hugo Award (1973), both for Best Novel Asimov identified it as his favorite science fiction and stated that the novel, especially the second section, was his "biggest and most effective over-my-head writing [I] ever produced." This part is remarkable because Asimov rarely describes aliens, preferring tales of humans and robots, but this time he goes into considerable detail.


Asimov took the names of the immature aliens — Odeen, Dua, and Tritt — from the words One, Two, and Three in Russian.

Source: http://files.meetup.com/444040/gods%20themselves.doc

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He was born in 1920 and died in 1992. He lived i USA but was born i the Sovjet Union. He was a professor in biocemistry and a very productive author of Sience Fiction as well as educational books. He wrote over 200 books. Isaac founded the modern Science Fiction and set the standard. He invented many words and thougts that has been used by other writers coming after him. For instance he invented a name for distance and speed in space wich he called “parsec” and predicted that the energy to drive rockets in the future would be fotons. Scientists of today says that he was probably right in the belive in fotondrive. He also predicted the Nanotecnology.

His most famous work is the trilogi about The Foundation, a fedration of states in space modelled after the Roman Imperium. He invented a non existing science called psykohistory and many short stories about robots. He also introduced The Three Laws Of Robotics.

1: A robot may not harm a human or neglect to act to prevent a human from beeing harmed.

2: A robot must obey every command by humans exept when such a command is in contridiction with The First Law.

3: A robot must protect his own existence unless this is in contridiction with The First or The Second Law.

Besides of these laws a third law, The Zero Law or The Unknown Law appears in the books about The Foundation. It´s a logicall effect of the first law and practical thinking of an intelligent robot:

0: A robot may not harm mankind, or by not acting allow mankind to get harmed.

That law led to a classical philosofical problem that forced the android Daneel Olivaw to several times break the first law to protect The Zero Law. This led to the harm of his own construction.

Many of his stories together form a story that reaches från today and far, far into the future. The main part of his stories are linked together into a single long story.

If you whant to follow that story from the beginning you will have to read the story in the same order as the booklist beneath. The years of releasing are the years of releasing in the USA.




[I, Robot]? (Jag, robot) - noveller, utgiven 1950
[The Rest of the Robots]? - noveller
[Robot Visions]? (Robotdrömmar) - noveller
[The Caves of Steel]? (Stålgrottorna) - Elijah Baley och R. Daneel Olivaw, utgiven 1954
[The Naked Sun]? (Den nakna solen) - Elijah Baley och Daneel Olivaw, utgiven 1957
[The Robots of Dawn]? (Död robot) - Elijah Baley och Daneel Olivaw, utgiven 1983
[Robots and Empire]? (Den okända lagen) - 150 år senare, utgiven 1985

[The Current of Space]? (Dömd planet) - utgiven 1952
[The Stars, Like Dust]? (Världar i krig) - utgiven 1951
[Pebble in the Sky]? (Förbjuden värld) - utgiven 1950

[Prelude to Foundation]? (Preludium till stiftelsen) - utgiven 1988
[Forward the Foundation]? (Hari Seldon och stiftelsen) - utgiven 1993
Foundation? (Stiftelsen) - Skriven på 1940-talet, utgiven 1951
[Foundation and Empire]? (Stiftelsen och imperiet) - Skriven på 1940-talet, utgiven 1952
[Second Foundation]? (Den segrande stiftelsen) - Skriven på 1940-talet, utgiven 1953
[Foundation's Edge]? (Stiftelsen och tiden) - utgiven 1982
[Foundation and Earth]? (Stiftelsen och jorden) - utgiven 1986

Carl Lidin MP2b


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Isaac Asimov


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