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Pebble in the Sky

(Galactic Empire #3)

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  16,668 ratings  ·  686 reviews
One moment Joseph Schwartz is a happily retired tailor in 1949 Chicago. The next he's a helpless stranger on Earth during the heyday of the first Galactic Empire. Earth, he soon learns, is a backwater, just a pebble in the sky, despised by all the other 200 million planets of the Empire because its people dare to claim it's the original home of man. And Earth is poor, with ...more
Kindle Edition, 256 pages
Published April 27th 2010 by Tor Books (first published 1950)
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Reinaldo In truth, no. Because that book it is first of the Galactic Empire series. But it's known as "third" because Asimov wrote other two books as the…moreIn truth, no. Because that book it is first of the Galactic Empire series. But it's known as "third" because Asimov wrote other two books as the prequel of this serie, that are "The Star, Like Dust and The Currents of Space".

Pebble in the Sky is, yet, a prequel of his important series, Foundation. (less)
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3.88  · 
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Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
In Isaac Asimov's very first published novel, Joseph Schwartz, a retired Jewish tailor, is instantly transported from 1949 Brooklyn to a time many thousands of years in the future, through an odd nuclear accident (scientific unlikelihood, but we'll let it pass). He finds himself on an Earth marred by high levels of radiation, presumably from past nuclear wars, that (scientific impossibility) apparently hasn't resulted in any physical ill effects to Earth's population, but has resulted in Earthme ...more
Dec 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Joseph Schwartz, a retired tailor, walks along a street in 1949. Between one step and the next, suspecting nothing, he's caught by a side effect of a far future experiment and flung millennia into the future, to a forgotten Earth, the despised backwater of a far-flung human galactic empire. A violent history has turned far-future Earth into a world whose surface is unpleasantly radioactive and which is ignored whenever possible. Joseph, half scared to death, unable to speak the language and doub ...more
Ahmad Sharabiani
Pebble in the Sky, Isaac Asimov
Pebble in the Sky is a science fiction novel by American writer Isaac Asimov, published in 1950. This work is his first novel — parts of the Foundation series had appeared from 1942 on wards, in magazines, but Foundation was not published in book form until 1951. The original Foundation books are also a string of linked episodes, whereas this is a complete story involving a single group of characters. The book begins with a retired tailor from the mid-20th Century,
Jul 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In a now-famous interview, sci-fi legend Isaac Asimov once revealed how he avoided getting stuck with writer's block. The hugely prodigious author would often be working at four or five books at the same time, with five typewriters arrayed side by side, and when he would get inextricably bogged down with one book, he'd simply move to the neighboring typewriter, and recommence work on that one! Thus, one can almost understand how it was possible for Asimov--who claimed, in his later years, to do ...more
Jul 04, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another interesting look into Asimov's Empire. This was the first published in the Empire series, but the 3d overall. I wound up reading it first, but it fits in well with his Foundation trilogy. The same themes, overarching history, & such.

This one deals with a man of today suddenly transplanted into a far flung future where Earth is a pariah among worlds. He has to deal with a little wild tech, but mostly this concentrates on prejudice & fanatics. Well done, especially for the times.
Michael Battaglia
Don't you just hate those days when you're walking down the street just minding your own business and then suddenly poof! you're in another time completely? That's how Joseph Schwartz's day starts, and it more or less goes downhill from there. Before too long he's volunteered for a scientific experiment because everyone assumes he's mentally damaged (due to nobody being able to understand a word he's saying, and vice versa, thanks to a several thousand year language gap) and that, hey, it can't ...more
Davyne DeSye
Nov 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very enjoyable! This is Asimov’s first science fiction novel (published in 1950), and is a wonderful example of the science fiction of the era.

This book has time travel, a galaxy-wide human civilization, deadly viruses, hyperspace, blasters… plenty of the traditional early sci-fi necessities.

It starts with time travel: Schwartz, a 60-year-old retired tailor, is enjoying his morning walk in downtown Chicago… Because of an unexpected phenomenon at a nearby research facility, Schwartz, between one
He steps through a wormhole in space and ends up in a future world where he has exotic Super Powers -

Like what, I hear you ask? Right, listen to this. He can obtain a deadly attack as White from the variation of the Spanish which starts 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. Nc3. Impressive, huh?

I know. Alekhine showed it was possible a couple of times. And then there was the game Spassky won against Beliavsky in 1988. If you can play through that and not conclude that Boris had Super Power
Mar 25, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
Greatly entertaining, though that's no surprise. After a somewhat slow start, it turns wonderfully tense. Although this is the most cartoonish villain I've encountered in an Asimov book, the rest of the characters have the same "realness" that I've come to expect from his casts. Even though the Galactic Empire books don't really relate to each other on a plot or character level, it's been interesting to watch the Empire develop from one book to the next. I don't know yet how it will relate to th ...more
Jun 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: to-enjoy-again
Wow. Holds up very well. Even to the point where it's the bad guys who diss the female. I don't know how readers who have never read the old stuff will like it, but I was weaned on these kinds of stories, this kind of writing and I love it so much I can't fully explain why. Very thoughtful, with great lines, plot, and ideas. The future may not be futuristic enough (but then, we are on a backwater, primitive planet) or the politics complicated enough (thank goodness, as I do not like intrigue), b ...more
Jun 03, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Peple said the early books Asimov wrote on his galactic empire were a little raw and ultimately quite skippable. I didn't want to believe it, mostly because I had yet to not love one of Asimov's works.

This trilogy of books however haven't had the greatness I expect of Asimov. They seem to lack the ambition of the Foundation and Robot series. Concentrating on smaller stoires when a subject as big as a whole galactic empire beckoned to be explored.

I found myself enjoying this one quite a bit in pl
Travis O.
Sep 06, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I’m going to begin this review with a generalization: every fan of science fiction should read at least one Isaac Asimov book in their life. Whether or not they enjoy it in the end is superfluous; it is the tax one pays to the (arguably) first patriarch of the genre as a concrete entity. Pebble in the Sky, the book on my docket today, was Mr. Asimov’s first novel, though it had been published serially between January and June of 1933. I came upon the book years ago, after binging on the Foundati ...more
Jared Millet
(2013 Asimov Re-Read, book 2)

So when I decided to revisit Asimov this year, my battle plan was to do the original Foundation Trilogy interspersed with the three Galactic Empire novels in the order of publication. I enjoyed Foundation as much as I did back in high school, but I remembered having a hard time with Pebble in the Sky. I'd hoped that I'd appreciate it more coming to it as an adult, but while it has plenty of interesting ideas, they don't quite fit together as a novel. This was Asimo
Peter Tillman
This one is online at
In a nice, clean e-reader. On the priority reread list. This would be a novella by current standards.

I'd forgotten about these, and that Galaxy failed to renew copyrights after they went under. I still have one crumbling, obscure Galaxy novel reprint (I think) in my library?

Asimov's first novel, [caution: SPOILERS] (1947-50) -- WikiP doesn't make it clear whether the first mag pub (40K words
It has been a while since I read this, so I decided to listen to it as part of my listening homework. It is an excellent, all too believable, story about a possible future earth that is radioactive with a much diminished population from the mid 1900s, which is when Joseph Schwartz is from. Suddenly he finds himself many centuries in the future through a device that was probably the weakest part of the sci fi story: a beam of radiation let loose and sent him into the future in the midst of taking ...more
Mary JL
Jul 17, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: any Sf reader
Recommended to Mary JL by: I am a fan of this author.
Shelves: main-sf-fantasy
As a long time fan of Isaac Asimov, I enjoy almost everything he wrote. Certainly some books are a bit more dated than others, and this is his first book. Nevertheless, Asimov tells a good story. The idea of Earth being hated by the Outer Worlds, instead of being the center of everything, was an unusual idea at the time this was written. And I found some of the political in-fighting interesting. I also liked the idea of a man from our time going so far in the future that everything he knew was l ...more
Jan 04, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf
Such an interesting book. I think that in a way this book should be read really close to 1q84 not only because they have a similar starting point, but also because they complete each other. The story was fascinating and I have to admit, very close to the end I was so much into it that I almost screamed in anger when it seemed that there is no hope left for the Galaxy. However, there is one thing that I couldn't swallow, and that is Bel and Pola's relationship, which at times felt forced and out ...more
Justin Rees
Apr 14, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
This was my first Issac Asimov novel, and it made me an instant fan. Any man who can think of a story like a simple tailor being lifted into the future over a crack in the sidewalk, and actually make it substanial and brilliant, is a genius in my books. A must read for all science fiction lovers as this is where it all begins...
May 10, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition

It does not matter if Earth is the Origin for Humanity, because it is a radioactive dust ball shit hole, and everyone from there is an oddball, it will always be a detestable backwood in the Galactic Empire.
Some of the people there are quite mad too.
Simon Mcleish
Originally published on my blog here in October 2000.

In 1949 when he was writing his first novel, Isaac Asimov had already had some success with published short stories. Pebble in the Sky shows both experience as a writer and inexperience in the longer form, as it tends to jump around rather too much for a continuous narrative to emerge. The style is basically fully developed, and (in his fictional writing) did not change a great deal over the next forty years.

In terms of the rest of Asimov's fi
John Park
Two and a half stars. Mainly curiosity value, but . . .

This was Asimov's first published novel; it preceded 1951's Foundation by a year, though most of the contents of the latter were older, having appeared in magazines in the 1940s.

Coming belatedly to Pebble after reading other Asimov novels was something of a revelation. It has energy, variety, some sense of human complexity, and female characters who show occasional spirit. Asimov's narrative voice tends to be garrulous and undisciplined but
Jul 14, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
my favorite type of sci-fi! time travel comparing pre-present day to the far future. In this future, Earth is the embarrassment of the galaxy, backward with outdated traditions and customs and a deep distrust of the rest of "mankind", who more than returns the sentiment. Lots of talk about radiation (written prior to our full understanding of radioactive weapons) and centered on one poor guy who accidentally slips through time because of it. A really fantastic book. Asimov's reputation is well-e ...more
Jul 09, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting to see earlier Asimov, especially in the setting of the galactic empire. But the romance here (and overall sexism) was ridiculous, as well as so much random and disorganized plot. And the psychic powers are pretty weak, too. I'm also not sure what to make of his "I find no fault in this man." We clearly have a Pilate character as well as a Sanhedrin and so on, but the exact setting and characters don't map over exactly, so I'm not sure fully what was intended. Anyway, some good food ...more
May 11, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I first read this book in 7th grade. It was my first science fiction book, and it hooked me. I think it is the reason I’m always looking for “fish out of water books. Asimov did a great job in placing a late 1940’s Chicago tailor into a world that was so different as to be unrecognizable to the main character.
Chaitanya krishnan
One of my all time favourites by Asimov. Have re-read it several times over the years. one of the central plots of the old, elderly being thrown aside like they don't matter, left deep impact on my mind when i read it as a school student. It also has one of the most creative+accidental modes of time travel i've seen in scifi so far.
Feb 25, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi-fantasy
Maybe 3 stars. This first novel of Asimov's was fun although the plot had some flaws. Perhaps most interesting was seeing the appearance of certain ideas which show up in his later books as well. ...more
Dragos Iosif
Mar 01, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned, sci-fi
There are far too many coincidences, almost no science and the is barely a plot. Forgettable characters, no twist, nothing innovating.
It really has absolutely no redeeming value.
John Defrog
This is Isaac Asimov’s first novel (although, confusingly, it’s the third novel in his Empire series), and I’ve always wanted to read it, as I really enjoyed Asimov’s Foundation series and his robot novels. The premise is also pretty good: an unspecified nuclear accident suddenly transports innocent bystander Joseph Schwartz into the far future in which the Galactic Empire has been established and Earth – regarded as a barbaric radioactive backwater – is run by the Society of Ancients that belie ...more
This man was so prolific, and had so many amazing ideas, that he is really an experience to read. His writing style is almost casual, as if he's plowing through this novel as fast as he can to get to the other 80 he's percolating. He doesn't CARE about crafting perfectly artful sentences. He just throws it out there, and we accept it. Good ol' Asimov. You do you, buddy!

The ideas! He had five ideas in this book that ALONE would have made great novels: the time-travel, the life limit, the nefariou
Bogdan Balostin
The poor man wants to have some rest now that he's retired and his children are all at their houses.


He's transported thousands of years into the future in the middle of a galactic plot that potentially could wipe out billions of humans.


He's forced to undergo brain surgery just for the fun of it. (medical experiment).


He's able to learn extra fast now. He's mental.

What follows is a long exposition on what is the situation on Earth, a planet of the Galactic Empire and how it changed sin
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Isaac Asimov was a Russian-born, American author, a professor of biochemistry, and a highly successful writer, best known for his works of science fiction and for his popular science books.

Professor Asimov is generally considered one of the most prolific writers of all time, having written or edited more than 500 books and an estimated 90,000 letters and postcards. He has works published in nine o

Other books in the series

Galactic Empire (3 books)
  • The Stars, Like Dust (Galactic Empire, #1)
  • The Currents of Space (Galactic Empire #2)
“Any planet is 'Earth' to those that live on it.” 1893 likes
“They won't listen. Do you know why? Because they have certain fixed notions about the past. Any change would be blasphemy in their eyes, even if it were the truth. They don't want the truth; they want their traditions.” 257 likes
More quotes…