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WARNING, WHOPPING SPOILERS AHEAD. I write these pages as notes, records and reminders to myself of books I have read. You are welcome to peruse these reviews, but be warned that they will spoil your reading pleasure if you have not already read them.
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The Martian Way   by Isaac Asimov

Read: 2004-07-03 Reviewed: 2004-07-04
Re-read factor:
This book is comprised of three excellent novellas, plus a fourth which fails to hold Asimov's credibility. It relies on the idea that in an advanced galactic civilisation everybody has forgotten what beryllium is, and that it is toxic. It happens that on an exploratory mission to find out why a planet's population died out, noone could see the problem with beryllium dust in the air, except a `mnemonic' who is on the mission in mysterious circumstances and remembers reading about beryllium poisoning in an ancient paper manuscript. Yeh, right. The characterizations are good, though.

The first novella is my kind of reading - the science fiction is within easy reach but solid and believeable, the characters are extraordinary but believeable, and, suprisingly for a novella, there is a proper beginning, middle and end. One day earth decides it is not going to subsidise the Mars colony by sending water, so the martians take matters into their own hands and grab an iceberg from the rings of Saturn.

The other two novellas are very similar, in that they both involve earthlings and extra-terrestrials discovering each other. In the first two earthmen crash onto a planet of giants, and are taken as pets by two youths. In the second an extra-terrestrial race sends a scout out to earth to find out about the human race, which he does from within earthlings' consciences. Despite their similarity, both novellas ask interesting questions, and camouflage the bare storylines with plots sufficiently twisted that they hold the imagination throughout the whole story. Together, they give interesting views of earthlings, asking questions about ourselves that would not otherwise be asked.

Thoroughly enjoyable reading. Pity they are not full-length novels, though - the truncatedness irks me.

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