Nemesis by Isaac Asimov

Nemesis is a science fiction novel written by Isaac Asimov and published in 1989, three years before his death. The novel is related to the future history he attempted to integrate in his later years, connecting several ideas from earlier and later novels, including non-human intelligence, sentient planets (Erythro), and rotor engines (Mind-Bending Journey II: Destination Brain). In the context of Asimov’s Foundation Universe, he is referred to millennia later as “a legend”.

The novel is set in the era of early interstellar travel (23rd century). The inhabitants of Rotor, a colony established on an asteroid, use “hyper-assistance”, a technology that allows travel at the speed of light, to move it from its Earth orbit to the red dwarf Nemesis, recently discovered by Eugenia Insigna. Once there, it is placed in orbit around the natural satellite Erythro. Meanwhile, back on Earth, Dr. Tessa Wendel develops the technology that will enable superluminal travel and open the Galaxy to human exploration (and could end Rotor’s isolation).

The story also chronicles the break-up and reunion of a family (Insigna and her daughter Marlene stayed on Rotor while father Crile Fisher returned to Earth and began a relationship with Wendel), the discovery that the bacteria inhabiting Erythro form a single organism capable of telepathic communication (through Marlene), and the attempt to resolve the catastrophe that is foreseen: Nemesis, in its movement, will pass close enough to the Solar System to destabilise it and end life on Earth.

In the novel there are parts of both Asimov’s creative aspects, an apparent telepath who is not a telepath (though a rather gossipy one) and an extraterrestrial intelligence not so original (Lem beat him to it in due course) but perfectly described.

This is a book that was missing from the Foundations saga, suggesting the beginning of the human diaspora across the galaxy and the discovery of the means to do so. But without punch, there is nothing, at any point, to engage with the story and on a couple of occasions, in view of the obviousness of the approaches and consequences, I was tempted to put it down.

Of course, this is one of the great classics of late 20th century Science Fiction, highly recommended.

Pixabay License

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