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The Gods Themselves

4.09  ·  Rating details ·  57,243 ratings  ·  2,011 reviews
In the twenty-second century Earth obtains limitless, free energy from a source science little understands: an exchange between Earth and a parallel universe, using a process devised by the aliens. But even free energy has a price. The transference process itself will eventually lead to the destruction of the Earth's Sun--and of Earth itself.
Only a few know the terrifying
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Paperback, 288 pages
Published February 10th 2000 by Millenium (first published 1972)
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Andy I can see how that can be for some people. For me, it's one of the most meaningful and personally relatable things that Isaac Asimov has ever written.…moreI can see how that can be for some people. For me, it's one of the most meaningful and personally relatable things that Isaac Asimov has ever written.(less)

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Average rating 4.09  · 
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Richard
Jul 29, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Science Fiction Fans; Newcomers and Old-timers
Isaac Asimov rarely wrote about either aliens or sex. In response to critics who complained about these omissions, he wrote a book about alien sex. Rather, a book whose middle third is mostly about alien sex. (Mostly.) The other two thirds of the book tell one of the "purest" and "hardest" science fiction stories I've ever read.

By pure, I mean that there's a single, science-related "what-if," and that the story hinges upon that. (In contrast to, for example, a space opera such as Star Trek, in w
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BlackOxford
Jan 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
There’s No Free Lunch

The wonder of Asimov’s fiction is that it has so many possible interpretations, many of which are acutely philosophical and often counter-cultural. Here’s one about The Gods Themselves:

Scientific method is the modern intellectual fetish. We talk like we know what it means; and that what it means is the rational expansion of knowledge, leading to an improvement in the human condition. But both presumptions are questionable. Historically, scientific progress has been more acci
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Dirk Grobbelaar
What’s a man supposed to do? Here is a novel that is greatly revered by critics and fans alike. It received both the Nebula and Hugo awards for best novel (1972 and 1973 respectively). Asimov himself identified this as his favourite. And yet…

I normally really enjoy Asimov’s works. Foundation, especially, is one of my favourite SF novels. I am going to go against what appears to be the norm by not giving this novel four or five stars. It’s a novel I respected rather than enjoyed.

I can certainly
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mark monday
the soft-formed, tri-sexed aliens have their roles: the Id, the Ego, the Superego: the Feeler, the Thinker, the Carer. they flow together and apart like mist, like amoebas making love; they watch the stars, they study their lessons, they nurture their young; they report dutifully to the hard-formed ones. their hard kin have a plan to save their cooling universe: transmute energy from another, warmer dimension! and so they enact their attack on Earth, on our dimension.

this middle section in the t
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Manny
Nov 29, 2008 rated it really liked it
One of the Holy Grails of science-fiction writing is the Convincing Alien Sex Scene. Has it ever been done? You get these claimed sightings, but then the sceptics move in. Okay, it's sexy and alien, but is it really convincing? Or, it's alien and convincing, but does it come across as sexy?

Anyway, this book is one of the stronger contenders, as Asimov treats us to a graphic, no-holds-barred description of how a three-gendered species get it on. I found it convincing, and many people agree that i
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seak
Jan 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audio, 2015, arc-review
Though a science fiction novel, The Gods Themselves is also primarily about magic.

Throughout the courses I took for my my undergraduate degree in Economics, we talked a lot about the driving forces behind the choices people make. One of the greatest is magic. We all want to find that magical thing that makes us not have to work as hard; magic makes life easier.

This quest for magic has helped us innovate on a grand scale and use the resources around us for our own benefit. Whether it's been good
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Adrian
More tomorrow, but it’s Asimov and 5 stars⭐️ , what did you really expect?

I have to say up front that Isaac Asimov is probably my favourite author. Yes I have favourite books by other authors, but taking into account that a large percentage of my favourite novels and stories are by this fantastic author, I think it qualifies him (today at least) as my favourite.

So, I am guessing that I first read this book back in the mid 1970s, and maybe I haven't read it since as I remembered very little of it
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Robert
Oct 14, 2007 rated it it was amazing
I just reread this book for the umptieth time over many years, and was struck once again by what a fine piece of work it is. This is one of the best pieces of pure science fiction every written. It isn't the best STORY, of course -- Asimov himself has better ones, as do many other science fiction authors from the post WWII era. But only a handful of other stories such as Forward's Dragon's Egg come to mind as being such excellent science fiction.

I am a physicist, mind you. The amazing thing abou
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Nandakishore Mridula
Isaac Asimov is a writer of ideas: and this is one of his best.

The concept is mind-boggling. Energy transfer between parallel universes, a universe which contains a three-gendered species, a convincing thermodynamic problem solved in a convincing way: it's all there for the aficionado of Hard SF. Also, the shortsightedness of governments regarding possible disasters, when there are goodies available for the taking by ignoring the dangers seem strangely prophetic in the face of the Climate Change
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Fran
Dec 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
This book came along in 1973, at the time Asimov was dedicated to write books which were all connected; not exactly in a series but with common themes and even characters. So, looking at it from that point, The Gods Themselves is an outcast that doesn't follow the pattern. It's a book with marked differences to much of what Asimov wrote, and that's exactly one of the reasons why I like it so much.

One of the first interesting differences is that this book is told from two quite opposite points of
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Manuel Antão
Aug 30, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1994
If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.



Dua, Odeen, and Tritt: "The Gods Themselves" by Isaac Asimov



"Mit der Dummheit kämpfen Götter selbst vergebens."

Friedrich Schiller



I admired it much more than I actually enjoyed it. Asimov's ideas are brilliant but his characters are somewhat bloodless and cardboard. Even when he tries to work against this it comes out all embarrassing. The third section on the moon is a pale imitation to Heinlein's 'Moon is a Harsh Mistress'. Given the
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Michael
This reread for me was still fun, well-paced, imaginative, and thought provoking. The tale concerns an opening with a parallel universe discovered by a physicist whose tungsten is converted into an impossible isotope of plutonium. When it decays usable energy is produced. At the point of the story when a science historian is interviewing this scientist, the massive construction of “Electron Pumps” is producing free energy on a scale sufficient hold the prospect of a coming shift to utopia for hu ...more
David Sarkies
May 29, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who like sci-fi
Recommended to David by: My Dad
Shelves: sci-fi
Asimov foresees the climate change debate
29 May 2012

The title of this book is a part of a longer title, which is used to split up the three sections of the book: Against Stupidity the Gods Themselves Contend in Vain'. I believe that that is actually an Ancient Greek saying, which is not surprising at all. Nope, as it turns out I am incorrect (thankyou Internet), it was in fact a saying of a German Poet named Friedrich von Schiller, but it is not the saying or the meaning of the saying that I re
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Ivana Books Are Magic
Jul 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I remember reading the first few sentence of this novel not being terribly impressed, not that I would ever considered giving up reading of one of HIS novel, but the descriptions of character seemed childish and I may have even though (blasphemy) there is something lacking there, but then I pulled myself together and told myself 'What do you know? This is Asimov. Have you ever read anything by Asimov that didn’t amaze you? Off course not. So shut up.' Anyhow, it didn’t take me long to become eng ...more
Bradley
Mar 25, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: sci-fi, 2016-shelf
*sigh* Some books should remain fond memories.

I'm dropping a star on the re-read. Enjoying the insistence of intuitionalism doesn't make up for the abysmally uninteresting aliens or the 1970's culturally-locked ideas surrounding smart human women and smart alien women. It was actually pretty groan-worthy.

As for the actual story idea, I enjoyed the extrapolation of a modified natural law and the SF conversation Asimov was having with Silverberg, but it turns out that a tiny handful of ideas isn'
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Trish
Mar 20, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
No wonder this thing won the Nebula Award for Best Novel in 1972 and the Hugo Award for Best Novel in 1973!

The story is divided into three parts:

Part one first opens on Earth in the year 2070, about 70 years after the "Great Crisis", where an ecological and economic collapse reduced the world's population from six billion to two billion.
A scientist, Hallam, discovers an isotope from a parallel universe: plutonium 186. This leads to the development of a cheap, clean and apparently endless sourc
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Joy D
"Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain." – Johann Christoph Friedrich von Schiller, The Maid of Orleans

The overarching storyline involves a method by which matter is exchanged between our universe and a parallel universe, resulting in what at first appears to be an unlimited supply of free energy to both. The process has been initiated by otherworldly beings, but Dr. Hallam, a scientist from earth, takes credit for it, to great acclaim. Later, a lone dissenter, Dr. Lamont, believ
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Jan-Maat
Sometimes particularly when reading about Octopuses editing their DNA, giant fungi in the USA, or super Ant colonies I wonder why anyone ever bothered to write any science fiction - the variety and strangeness of actual life on earth seems to trump with ease the modest products of human imagination, perhaps that is precisely the point, the story is a way of controlling the world, of reducing its complexity to the manageable oddness of a novel.

In this case if it looks too good to be true - it pro
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Sud666
Mar 16, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, sci-fi
"The Gods Themselves" by Asimov was an interesting read. One of those books I've been meaning to read for a long time. One quick thing- I noticed the three Parts titles all combine to say "Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain" and can assume Asimov is quoting Friedrich Schiller who, in "The Maid of Orleans", said "Mit der Dummheit kämpfen Götter selbst vergebens.", which is exactly that saying in German.

It is an interesting premise. Frederick Hallam , a scientist, has found a ne
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spikeINflorida
Mar 24, 2017 rated it it was ok
This supposed SF classic is too much talk and not enough walk. The characters are wooden, dry, and boooring.The Foundation and Robot trilogies had their high points...but sadly I came to the same conclusion with those novels as well. Please don't hate me, but IMHO...Isaac Asimov is simply overated. The legendary Arthur C. Clarke blows this guy's pages right off the spine. ...more
Jason Pettus
Apr 11, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Brian
Sep 25, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
Another "one off" from a major sci-fi master. Totally unrelated to any of his other stories, this one is a mind-bender. A trans-universal thriller in which everything depends upon a near-impossible cooperation between physicists here on earth, and beings in another existence so alien and bizarre it disrupts your basic understanding of what it might mean to be alive and conscious.

Bonus: alien "marriage" and reproduction so inventive it's not even sexy. But it is kind of sweet, and romantic in its
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Jim
A good foreword by Asimov. It's can be fun to find out the inspiration for a story & since this one involved Silverberg, another giant in the SF genre, that was even better.

The basic premise is good, too. Actually, it might be great, especially the way he leverages it to show the realities & politics behind science & society. It's easy to see where a catch 22 can & would develop. Unfortunately, the narrative & characters are so flat that I kept zoning out. I didn't like any of the characters & t
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Abe
Jun 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Asimov certainly plots his tales well. Most of his books I've read, this included, consist of a couple interrelated novellas as opposed to a single story - yet Asimov weaves the overall story together masterfully.

The first section is a wonderful portrayal of how academia really works, the second section will have your chin on the floor the entire time, and the third section ties in all the details with (virtually) a whole new cast.

The second section is so imaginative it would be simply unfilmabl
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Scott Sigler
Jun 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved this book! I adore science but don't have the mental horsepower to grok advanced physics. This book explores the concept of multiple universes via the drama of two sets of characters, one set in our universe, one in another where the rules of physics are different.

Asimov uses the different laws of physics to set up a cool conceit that first promises unlimited energy for all, then threatens to destroy all existence.

He worked hard to create a truly alien alien race, but uses conversational
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Silvana
Maybe one of my favorite Asimov novels but mostly for 2/3 of it. I am too confused to rate it as a whole, so I'll just use the average.

Part I: excellent and amusing scientific debate a la Asimov. 4 stars.
Part II: heart-wrenching, beautiful story of three-gendered aliens. 5 stars.
Part III: typical Golden Era of SF when it comes to the featured female character. But what's worse is that the dialogues and plot are not as good as the other parts. 1.5 stars.

So, average 3.5 stars rounded down to 3 sin
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Stephen
4.0 to 4.5 stars. Along with "The End of Eternity" Asimov's best non "Robot" or "Foundation" novel.

Winner: Hugo Award Best Science Fiction Novel (1973)
Winner: Nebula Award Best Science Fiction Novel (1973)
Winner: Locus Award Best Science Fiction Novel (1973)
Voted to 1998 Locus List of "All Time Best" Science Fiction Novels (Pre 1990)
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Michael
One thing I always have to remind myself when it comes to reading Asimov is that even though I've seen some of his ideas and concepts before in other author's works, that Asimov was in many ways a pioneer in the field at the time he wrote. The Gods Themselves is no exception to that rule. Yes, there are elements in this novel that others have done but none of them really as well as Asimov. There are others here who have explained the premise of this novel far better than I could and without givi ...more
Spiro
Dec 10, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Who knew that a novel written in 1972 could touch on global warming, woman empowerment, lax views on different sexual orientations, and foreign policy...all with very pristine and at times technically beautiful scientific writing.

Some of my favorite quotes from this year come from this book:

"Now then, young man, don't ask me to stop the Pumping. The economy and comfort of the entire planet depend on it. Tell me, instead, how to keep the Pumping from exploding the Sun."


"There are no happy endings
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Clarence Reed
Jun 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019
ReedIII Quick Review: This is a very good true science fiction novel heavy on theoretical physics without detracting from three perfectly linked stories. “What if we could access a parallel universe where the laws of physics were just a little different?” Final third weakest and could have been eliminated.
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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
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