He was saying, “That’s right! He came in here and said, ‘Put me in jail, because I want to kill myself.’[”]I have fallen out of love with Asimov much more than any of the other authors whose work I inhaled as a teenager, mainly because I hate cute robots, for which he may not be single-handedly responsible but for which he clearly bears the lion's share of the blame. However, this collection went some way to reconciling me. The stories I liked least were those I had read last year in The Complete Robot; I remembered reading about half of the others from my teenage years; and the rest were new to me, as far as I could remember. I was particularly struck by "Hostess", in which, for once, Asimov looks at an unhappy marriage from the point of view of an intelligent woman rather than an intelligent man; also by the alternate history twist of "Spell My Name With An S". And both "The Martian Way" and "Franchise" retained more of their attraction than I had hoped. It is also beautifully illustrated by Ralph McQuarry, which certainly helped my appreciation of the book. I started it with uneasy anticipation of disappointment, but actually was glad to have read it.
This was the most popular book on my unread pile bought this year. Next on that list is The Dinner, by Hermann Koch.