The Gods Themselves Author:Isaac Asimov In the year 2100, mankind on Earth, settlers in a lunar colony and aliens from the para-universe, a strange universe parallel in time to our own, are faced with a race against time to prevent total destruction of the Earth. The invention of the Inter-Universe Electron Pump has threatened the rate of hydrogen fusion in the sun, leading, inevitab... more »ly, to the possibilty of a vast explosion -- and the vapourisation of the Earth exactly eight minutes later . . .« less
This is a very hard book to summarize and review, and I believe the PBS blurb about this book is highly misleading. IMO, the "race against time" to prevent the explosion is important to the development of the book; however, I view this book as belonging more in category of "social science fiction.
It is the alien life on the moon which I believe is the most striking and central theme here. It seems to me (putting myself in the authors' shoes, which we know can be quite erroneous) that the destruction of the solar system is merely a framework for Asimov to create these aliens and play with them.
The alien social structure is based upon groups of three.These aliens aren't as compact molecularly as we are - they can soften around the edges and "merge" into one unit. This melting/merging, which is not fully accomplished until later in the story, is very pleasurable to the aliens and can be seen as a version of what humans experience during sexual intimacy. As the story progresses, we have the point of view of one alien group and, in particular, one of the three members of this group.
Taking this perspective, the reader becomes more enlightened about happenings in the book as s/he reads. Because the alien through whom we are interpreting events is young, highly emotional and not very attuned to logical thought processes, the reader experiences the growth and development experienced by the alien. As the alien gains enlightenment as to her importance and role in her triad, the reader becomes more and more able to piece together the events of the book.
TGT seems to me to be derived from our culture during the 1970s. The alien characters can be seen as the embodiment of the Parent-Adult-Child roles central to Transactional Analysis, or more accurately Freud's Super-Ego, Ego and Id.
I really enjoyed this book the several times I have read it. In fact, I bought a copy for one of my children to read and she had the same favorable impression that I did.
Just remember - this is not, despite the description of the book you see above this review, hard science fiction. The science is there, but it takes a back seat to the sociopsychological aspects of the book.
I thought the book was great. I must admit that I haven't read much science fiction in recent years. The science fiction I most enjoy are works by such authors as Arthur C. Clarke, Robert Heinlein, Robert Silverberg, Ray Bradbury, Phil Farmer and Asimov published in the 50's, 60's and 70s. I read these authors in my high school and college days (more than a few years ago!). More recent sci-fi I haven't really cared for - especially the glut of fantasy novels that seem to dominate the field these days.
"Gods Themselves" kept me interested clear through. After reading the dedication, I was hooked - Asimov accosts Robert Silverberg at a sci-fi convention for referring to a radioactive isotope (plutonium-186) that could not exist. He then tells Silverberg that to show him real ingenuity, he would write a story about it (leave it to a biochemist!). This story ended up as "The Gods Themselves."
Not only was Gods Themselves great sci-fi but Asimov gave some great commentary on our times as reflected in the characters and situations he created in the 1970s. This included the ambition of Hallam in the first section. Rather than relinquish any of the credit for being the father of the "electron pump" he would risk the annihilation of the planet. Implications of the electron pump also mirror our current problem of global warming - mankind has ignored the consequences of burning fossil fuels for energy to provide for human comforts (did Asimov foresee this?). The second section was perhaps the most enjoyable part of the novel in which Asimov creates a unique alien "para-universe" including the "triplet" sexual relationships of the beings (the aliens have three sexes with fixed roles for each sex - wow!). And finally, the third section provides a satisfactory resolution to the story. All in all - sci-fi at its best!
Only a few know the terrifying truth--an outcast Earth scientist, a rebellious alien inhabitant of a dying planet, a lunar-born human intuitionist who senses the imminent annihilation of the Sun. They know the truth--but who will listen? They have foreseen the cost of abundant energy--but who will believe? These few beings, human and alien, hold the key to the Earth's survival
Section two of this book is awesome. Really, really interesting and different. I wilsh he would have developed it. I thought the ending was a bit predictable, but all-in-all, still really. Quick read. I read it in a weekend, and I'm not a power reader.