Youth, by Isaac Asimov. My verdict: poor

Youth is a short sci-fi story by Isaac Asimov. You can listen to it on Youtube (https://youtu.be/WBV2c44GxKY). It’s a little over an hour long. You can also obtain it for free on Project Gutenberg at http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/31547

It is a story about a spaceship that lands on a planet to explore the posssibility of space trade. The landing is low-key, and they aim to talk only to an industrialist and an astronomer. The spaceship crash-lands, however. The aliens are captured by the sons of the natives, who think them to be just strange animals. They plan to sell them as exhibits in a circus. Whilst the adults are trying to seek out aliens, the children are trying to keep them secret. The adults eventually discover what’s going on, set the aliens free, and allow them to return to their home planet.

Women do not play much of a part in this story. There is a cook, although she is only referred to. The women is a wife, whose function appears to be shriek at the discovery of the space travellers.

There is a small twist at the end, but if you read the Gutenberg version and look at the pictures, the game is given away early.

Goodreads readers have given the story 4 out of 5. Personally, I would give it 1. The story is not deep, and does not explore any original themes. I also did not think that the dialogue was convincing. The natives were too slow on the uptake at working out what they boys were up to. Either that, or the narrative was too clumsy. Goodreads reviewer Scott Kaelen called it right: “plodding and predictable … The dialogue here is iffy at best, annoying at worst”.

But hey, I am not a professional literary critic, so WTFDIK.

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About mcturra2000

Computer programmer living in Scotland.
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2 Responses to Youth, by Isaac Asimov. My verdict: poor

  1. mcturra2000 says:

    I just remembered … the story does have a couple of fatal flaws. Firstly, the aliens must have been unlike any other. Secondly, the aliens had tools, the guns at least, and they must have had clothes. It seems probable that the boys would have realised they had stumbled onto something significant.

  2. walter hanagan says:

    Surely, the twist at the end is the entire point of the story. It’s a long winded build up to a joke like ending. Or a thought experiment. After you get the twist you can reappraise the story. I guess they’re all aliens (or are the small aliens evolved humans?) so the way they talk and think does not have to make sense. It’s a cop out, but, maybe you can excuse your fatal flaws on that basis.

    It did make me think a little bit about the self centredness of human beings.

    I was very keen on SF as a teenager and I’m sure I would have found this story quite profound at that time. In general, Asimov’s stuff seems quite dry and abstract to me, but he did explore some interesting concepts. I’m old and jaded now so I just got an echo of my old feelings by reading this. Perhaps this story really was aimed at youth.

    Still, I’m glad you mentioned it and got me to read it.

    Yours

    Walter Hanagan

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