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Readings and Ramblings

This is Readings and Ramblings. It is readings because this is a site for blogging about books and I intend to do that. It is ramblings because I might want to write about something else now and then.

The Solar System and Back - Isaac Asimov For many years Isaac Asimov wrote a monthly science column for the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. Actually, I am not sure when he started the column nor when it ended, but I think it might be more appropriate to say that he wrote it for decades rather than many years. Every time enough of the columns accumulated to make a book they did just that. They were published in book form. This collection of science essays is one of those books. The book was published in 1970 and some of the essays date back to the 1950s, so some of the science is a bit outdated. However, most of it is not and one can read the book today and learn quite a bit, especially if one is a member of the lay audience. I would recommend it to young people who have an interest in science. I will not say that it will spark an interest in science because if one is reading it then one is likely to already have that interest, but it may very well strengthen the interest and intrigue at the same time. At least, when I read the book for the first time back when I was a teenager it had that effect on me. It has been a long time since I read that book and it was something of a nostalgia trip for me to do so again now. I was intrigued by both how much I had forgotten about it and how much I remembered. The last chapter was more social commentary than science, but when I read it this time I remembered it very well. Asimov was commenting on social trends that were current in the late 1960s and took an attitude that I mostly agreed with. I actually remember using some of his arguments in my own discussions. He devoted much of that chapter to a defense of feminism and, given the social circles in which he functioned, he was very progressive. I do note, though, reading it so many years after it was written, that he had a number of sexist assumptions weighing him down even while he was defending feminism. Based on what I know of Isaac Asimov, though, I think that if someone had pointed them out to him he would have promptly dropped them.