Isaac Asimov’s Excellence Endures with Nemesis
Isaac Asimov – Nemesis (1989) Book Review
Isaac Asimov is one of my heroes. I’ve enjoyed his fiction for most of my life. I wouldn’t hesitate to call him a genius. He’s a master of big ideas and communicating those ideas in a clear unfettered manner. Granted this doesn’t always make for the most action packed fiction, but the man deserves every bit of his Grand Master title. He’s left behind an Ambassador class starship full of classic fiction and nonfiction.
Asimov’s characters tend to talk a lot, and even though they are saying interesting things, the reader sometimes longs for a bit more excitement. Many of his greatest works employ this conversation heavy style namely the classic robot novels – my personal favorites of Asimov’s fiction. Nemesis is similar in style but unfortunately it can’t equal the quality of those earlier works, but fortunately, it comes pretty close.
I’ve had Nemesis sitting on my shelf for years and I finally cracked it open. Along with the other Asimov novels I’ve read, Nemesis is certainly high quality sci-fi. I obviously haven’t read all of his 400+ (or is it 500?) books but I suspect none of them are bad.
Nemesis is a hard scifi story dealing with celestial mechanics, faster than light travel, extraordinary mental abilities as well as social elements like race, intelligence, and beauty. Although interesting concepts and clever ideas appear throughout the book, the pace is bogged down by repetitious conversation and sluggish character development. A few of the characters are memorable but even with all the chatter, less than fully realized. One gets the feeling the book could have been fifty pages shorter. The execution of the weighty ideas however more than compensates for the density of the dialog. And the resolution is immensely satisfying and serves as a clever precursor to his earlier written (later chronologically) Foundation novels.
Despite its flaws, Nemesis is a thought-provoking and satisfying sci-fi tale that should appeal to Asimov’s legion of fans. I haven’t read one of his books in years and it was great fun reading him again, kind of like visiting an old friend.
I can’t write about Asimov without mentioning the mighty mutton chops! All hail the chops!