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Pebble in the Sky

(Galactic Empire #3)

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  20,500 ratings  ·  817 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
Paperback, 308 pages
Published December 1st 1991 by Bantam (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 prequ…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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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
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
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.
Apr 04, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: asimov-verse, scifi
Robot/Empire/Foundation. Book #7 is the final 'Galactic Empire series book, but much more significantly Asimov's first published novel (1950!). Despite very much a '1950s' feel sci-fi work, this is still set many many centuries in Earth's future; has an interesting and assertive female lead; has a core theme set around prejudice through the lens of a far future where Earth is on the very outskirts of the Galactic Empire, and the radioactive soaked planet and its 20 million sized population are g ...more
Michael Battaglia
Feb 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
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
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 Knight
Sep 06, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Sina Homayooni
Mar 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sci-fi
Before reading the Galactic Empire, I had heard that they are not as good as the Robot Series or the main Foundation Series, and it somehow compensated for my disappointment. But then again, 'Pebble in the Sky' was the best out of the three of the Galactic Empire. ...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 Asi
Apr 01, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is Asimov’s debut full length novel. An early 50’s sci-fi classic, with a wild and complicated plot kept in line by Asimov’s special talent of clearly communicating complex ideas. There are a few regrettable elements, such as how our retired tailor somehow stumbles 50 000 or so years into the future via a beam caused by a messed up experiment with uranium - ah, the sci-fi of the forties and fifties...

Most notable here is how the people of the earth (earthers) are treated as lower class and
Cori Reed
Feb 09, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was my first Isaac Asimov (picked up completely at random) and I really enjoyed the experience! It definitely makes me excited to read more of his work.
Justin Rees
Apr 14, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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...
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
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
Sep 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This literature creation makes you to read more and more. An interesting story about the Galactic Empire, wears you in the world of miserables called Earth. The humans became full of them and they support that they were first civilization appeared in the Galaxy. Joseph Schwartz is the start point for the humans, they were right and they need to change their planet at normal. 4 stars best decision for this book. Recommend it to everyone. Good SF story for fans.
The story is very well built, but it
Jan 04, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Dragos Iosif
Mar 01, 2016 rated it did not like it
Shelves: sci-fi, owned
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.
Bryan Rollins
I love Asimov's writing - part of it feels like you're reading a black-and-white television show. Like you're looking at a version of the future that was imagined 50 years ago, which actually turns out to be 70 years ago when Asimov first published it in 1951.

It's one of his earlier books and not his best writing, but it's actually plays with themes of racism (a universe where 'Earthmen' are considered unintelligent humans) and the tribalism and bureaucracy that keeps it in place.

And, there's a
Dane Cobain
Jan 23, 2021 rated it really liked it
I love Asimov, and so he has the same thing going for him as Agatha Christie, Stephen King and other authors where I know that I’m going to enjoy their books regardless of whether they’re objectively any good or not.

This is one of the less memorable of the Asimov books that I’ve come across so far, but it’s cool that it’s set to the backdrop of the foundation. I also like the way that it contrasts our own society with societies that are alien to us. That can work just as well in a contemporary n
May 10, 2019 rated it it was ok

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.
May 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020, classics
Probably 3.75 rounded up. Enjoyed it. He continues to weave mysteries in a sci fi vehicle. Why is earth always so downtrodden????
Simon Mcleish
Sep 06, 2012 rated it liked it
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
Aug 08, 2015 rated it it was ok
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
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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)

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