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The Complete Stories

Isaac Asimov


  I have been writing short stories for fifty-one years and I haven't yet quit. In addition to the hundreds of short stories I have published, there are at least a dozen in press waiting to be published, and two stories written and not yet submitted. So I have by no means retired.

  There is, however, no way one can publish short stories for this length of time without understanding that the time left to him is limited. In the words of the song: "Forevermore is shorter than before. "

  It is time, therefore, for Doubleday to pull the strings together and get all my fiction-short stories and novels, too-into a definitive form and in uniform bindings, both in hard and soft covers.

  It may sound conceited of me to say so (I am frequently accused of being conceited), but my fiction generally has been popular from the start and has continued to be well received through the years. To locate any one story, however, that you no longer have and wish you did, or to find one you have heard about but have missed is no easy task. My stories appeared originally in any one of many magazines, the original issues of which are all but unobtainable. They then appeared in any of a multiplicity of anthologies and collections, copies of which are almost as unobtainable.

  It is Doubleday's intention to make this multivolume collection definitive and uniform in the hope that the science fiction public, the mystery public (for my many mysteries will also be collected), and libraries as well will seize upon them ravenously and clear their book shelves to make room for Isaac Asimav: The Complete Stories.

  We begin in this volume with two of my early collections from the 1950s, Earth Is Room Enough and Nine Tomorrows.

  The former includes such favorites of mine as "Franchise," which deals with the ultimate election day; "Living Space," which gives every family a world of its own; "The Fun They Had," my most anthologized story; "Jokester," whose ending I bet you don't anticipate if you've never read the story before; and "Dreaming Is a Private Thing," concerning which Robert A. Heinlein accused me of making money out of my own neuroses.

  Nine Tomorrows, the personal favorite of all my collections, contains not one story I don't consider to be excellent examples of my productions of the 1950s. In particular, there is "The Last Question," which, of all the stories I have written, is my absolute favorite.

  Then there is "The Ugly Little Boy," my third-favorite story. My tales tend to be cerebral, but I count on this one to bring about a tear or two. (To find out which is the second-favorite of my stories, you'll have to read successive volumes of this collection. ) "The Feeling of Power" is another frequently anthologized piece and is rather prophetic, considering it was written before anyone was thinking of pocket computers. "All the Troubles of the World" is a suspense story and "The Dying Night" is a mystery based, alas, on an astronomical "fact" now known to be quite mistaken.

  Then there is a later collection included here, Nightfall and Other Stories, which features "Nightfall," a story that many readers and the Science Fiction Writers of America have voted the best science fiction story ever written (I don't think so, but it would be impolite to argue). Other favorites of mine are " 'Breeds There a Man . . . ?' ", which is rather chilling; "Sally," which expresses my feelings about automobiles; "Strikebreaker," which I consider much underappreciated; and "Eyes Do More than See," a short heartstring wrencher.

  There'll be more volumes, but begin by reading this one. You will make an old man very happy, you know.

  -isaac asimov

  New York City

  March 1990