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Encyclopedia > Mother Earth (Asimov)
"Mother Earth"
Author Isaac Asimov
Country Flag of United States USA
Language English
Series Robot Series
Genre(s) science fiction short story
Released in Astounding Science Fiction
Publisher Street & Smith
Media Type Magazine
Released May 1949
Preceded by The Bicentennial Man
Followed by The Caves of Steel

Mother Earth is a science fiction novelette by Isaac Asimov. It was written from September 1 to October 10, 1948, and published in the May 1949 issue of Astounding Science Fiction. It is considered part of the Robot Series. It has been republished in Asimov's 1972 short story collection The Early Asimov. Isaac Asimov (January 2?, 1920? – April 6, 1992, IPA: , originally Исаак Озимов but now transcribed into Russian as Айзек Азимов) was a Russian-born American author and professor of biochemistry, a highly successful and exceptionally prolific writer best known for his works of science fiction and for his popular science books. ... Image File history File links No higher resolution available. ... The English language is a West Germanic language that originates in England. ... Isaac Asimovs Robot Series is a series of books by Isaac Asimov, both collections of short stories and novels. ... Science fiction is a form of speculative fiction principally dealing with the impact of imagined science and technology, or both, upon society and persons as individuals. ... This article is in need of attention. ... Astounding Stories was a seminal science fiction magazine founded in 1930. ... Street & Smith book department in 1906 Street & Smith composing room circa 1905-1910 Street & Smith bindery in 1910 Street & Smith or Street & Smith Publications, Inc. ... The Bicentennial Man is a novella in the Robot Series by Isaac Asimov. ... The Caves of Steel is a book by Isaac Asimov. ... Science fiction is a form of speculative fiction principally dealing with the impact of imagined science and technology, or both, upon society and persons as individuals. ... A novelette (or novelet) is a piece of short prose fiction. ... 1948 (MCMXLVIII) was a leap year starting on Thursday (the link is to a full 1948 calendar). ... 1949 (MCMXLIX) was a common year starting on Saturday (the link is to a full 1949 calendar). ... Astounding Stories was a seminal science fiction magazine founded in 1930. ... Isaac Asimovs Robot Series is a series of books by Isaac Asimov, both collections of short stories and novels. ... 1972 (MCMLXXII) was a leap year starting on Saturday. ... The Early Asimov is a 1972 collection of short stories by Isaac Asimov. ...

Contents

Context within Asimov's universe

With fifty Spacer worlds led by Aurora, this tale seems to bridge the gap between the early robot stories and the situation in The Caves of Steel. Aurora is also described as having begun as a "Sirian sector colony," pointing to the later Galactic Empire. No individual robots appear, but positronic robots are part of the background. Aurora is a fictional planet in Isaac Asimovs Robot Series. ... The Caves of Steel is a book by Isaac Asimov. ...


On the other hand, the short-story ending does not seem consistent with situation in The Caves of Steel. The reader might view it as a "first draft" of sorts, with ideas that were later changed. Asimov would re-shuffle ideas at times — the short story "Victory Unintentional" has a non-human civilisation on Jupiter, which is incompatible, even though the story features positronic robots obeying the Three Laws. In "Mother Earth," the latest of the Spacer worlds is Hesperus, settled from Faunus, although this is not necessarily contradictory of the history of Solaria provided in The Naked Sun — at one point in the story itself, the number of Spacer worlds is literally given as "some fifty worlds," not a firm, even fifty. The Caves of Steel is a book by Isaac Asimov. ... Victory Unintentional is a semi-humourous science fiction short story by Isaac Asimov, originally published in Super Science Stories, August 1942, and included in the collection The Rest of the Robots. ... Solaria was a fictional human-inhabited planet in Isaac Asimovs Foundation and Robot series. ... The Naked Sun is the second novel in Isaac Asimovs Robot series. ...


It seems obvious that Hesperus was number forty-nine, which synchs up with what is revealed in The Caves of Steel, in that Solaria had only recently (as in the past few centuries) been settled by mankind. The Caves of Steel is a book by Isaac Asimov. ...


Asimov himself is ambiguous about the link, saying:

"What interests me most about 'Mother Earth' is that it seems to show clear premonitions of the novels Caves of Steel and The Naked Sun, which I was to write in the 1950s." (The Early Asimov.)

The Early Asimov is a 1972 collection of short stories by Isaac Asimov. ...

Themes

A major theme of the story is the way in which the Spacers have closed their thinly-populated worlds to Earth's crowded inhabitants. This was not an abstraction to Isaac Asimov, who was born in the village of Petrovichi in Smolensk Oblast, Russia. When he was three, his parents were able to emigrate to the USA, shortly before severe restrictions were placed on the immigration of Russian and East European Jews. He did not forget the link, and in fact remained fluent in Yiddish as well as English 1. During World War II, Petrovichi was occupied by the German armies. Those Jewish inhabitants who did not flee in time were massacred. Isaac Asimov (January 2?, 1920? – April 6, 1992, IPA: , originally Исаак Озимов but now transcribed into Russian as Айзек Азимов) was a Russian-born American author and professor of biochemistry, a highly successful and exceptionally prolific writer best known for his works of science fiction and for his popular science books. ... Petrovichi is a Russian town near Smolensk. ... Smolensk Oblast (Russian: ) is a federal subject of Russia (an oblast). ... Isaac Asimov (January 2?, 1920? – April 6, 1992, IPA: , originally Исаак Озимов but now transcribed into Russian as Айзек Азимов) was a Russian-born American author and professor of biochemistry, a highly successful and exceptionally prolific writer best known for his works of science fiction and for his popular science books. ... Combatants Allied powers: China France Great Britain Soviet Union United States and others Axis powers: Germany Italy Japan and others Commanders Chiang Kai-shek Charles de Gaulle Winston Churchill Joseph Stalin Franklin Roosevelt Adolf Hitler Benito Mussolini Hideki Tōjō Casualties Military dead: 17,000,000 Civilian dead: 33,000...


Plot summary

Spoiler warning: Plot and/or ending details follow.

Earth faces a confrontation with its colonies, the "Outer Worlds." An historian looks back and sees the problem beginning a century-and-a-half earlier, when Aurora got permission to "introduce positronic robots into their community life." No date is given, but fifty years before the story starts, the Outer Worlds established an immigration quota against incoming Terran citizens. The balance of power then tipped. Now war appears likely, and there are rumours that Earth has developed an unknown weapon, code-named the "Pacific Project." Aurora is a fictional planet in Isaac Asimovs Robot Series. ... A positronic brain is a fictional technological device, originally conceived by science fiction writer Isaac Asimov. ...


On Aurora, there is also concern, but the Aurorans decide that the threat cannot be serious. They use authoritarian methods to suppress Ion Mereanu and his Conservatives, who wish to help Earth. They then call a gathering on Hesperus, one of the Outer Worlds, to unite them against Earth.


There is some rivalry from two other planets, Rhea and Tethys. "All three planets were identically racist, identically exclusivist. Their views on Earth were similar, and completely compatible... But Aurora was the oldest of the Outer Worlds, the most advanced, the strongest militarily... Rhea and Tethys served as a focal point for those who did not recognize Auroran leadership." But Earth unexpectedly sends a threatening message to all of the worlds, uniting them against Earth.


War follows (later termed the "Three-Week War" by historians), and Earth swiftly loses. Trade is ended — the Outer Worlds have no need of Earth's exports, which are mostly agricultural. Earthmen are not allowed to journey beyond the Solar System. Major features of the Solar System (not to scale; from left to right): Pluto, Neptune, Uranus, Saturn, Jupiter, the asteroid belt, the Sun, Mercury, Venus, Earth and its Moon, and Mars. ...


We then get the explanation. The war was planned in the expectation of defeat — that was what the "Pacific Project" was all about. This is in part to force Earth to make necessary reforms, the use of robots, hydroponic agriculture, and population control. But the Outer Worlds will also weaken and split, because their worlds are biologically ill-suited to long-term human cultures. Several consequences are predicted from the entire conflict:

Earth will experience a century of rebuilding and revitalisation, and at the end of it, it shall face an outer Galaxy which will either be dying or changed. In the first case, Earth will build a second Terrestrian Empire, more wisely and with greater knowledge than it did the first; one based on a strong and modernized Earth.
In the second case, Earth will face perhaps ten, twenty, or even all fifty Outer Worlds, each with a slightly different variety of Man. Fifty humanoid species, no longer united against us, each increasingly adapted to its own planet, each with a sufficient tendency towards atavism to love Earth, to regard it as the great and original Mother.
And racism will be dead, for variety will then be the great fact of Humanity, and not uniformity...Mother Earth will finally have given birth not to merely a Terrestrian, but to a Galactic Empire.

This fits with Asimov's wider themes, but is not easy to reconcile with the situation found in The Caves of Steel. Possibly the reforms failed, and the Spacers learned enough biology to remain healthy and united. But no later work says anything concrete about the matter. The Caves of Steel is a book by Isaac Asimov. ...


See also


Aurora is a fictional planet in Isaac Asimovs Robot Series. ... This article is on the history of Earth, as presented in Isaac Asimovs Foundation Series, Robot Series, and Empire Series. ... The Bicentennial Man is a novella in the Robot Series by Isaac Asimov. ... The Early Asimov is a 1972 collection of short stories by Isaac Asimov. ... Isaac Asimovs Robot Series is a series of books by Isaac Asimov, both collections of short stories and novels. ... Hari Seldons holographic image, pictured on a paperback edition of Foundation, appears at various times in the First Foundations history, to guide it through the social and economic crises that befall it. ... The Caves of Steel is a book by Isaac Asimov. ...

The Early Asimov
The Callistan Menace | Ring Around the Sun | The Magnificent Possession | Trends | The Weapon Too Dreadful to Use | Black Friar of the Flame | Half-Breed | The Secret Sense | Homo Sol | Half-Breeds on Venus | The Imaginary | Heredity | History | Christmas on Ganymede | The Little Man on the Subway | The Hazing | Super-Neutron | Not Final | Legal Rites | Time Pussy | Author! Author! | Death Sentence | Blind Alley | No Connection | The Endochronic Properties of Resublimated Thiotimoline | The Red Queen's Race | Mother Earth

  Results from FactBites:
 
Isaac Asimov FAQ, Part 3/4 (3605 words)
Asimov's original intention was to write a series of longer stories to complement the series of short stories he was writing about robots.
Asimov's view was exactly the opposite -- his robots are "positronic" because positrons had just been discovered when he started writing robot stories and the word had a nice science-fictiony ring to it.
Asimov also edited or co-edited a large number of anthologies, and since his name was usually featured prominently on the cover, readers sometimes mistakenly associate his name with a story that appeared in an anthology that was in fact written by another author.
Decline and fall of the Galactic Empire (848 words)
Asimov was quite young at the time: His appreciation of the variety of human behaviour was limited and many of the details of his universe were quite naive in conception.
Earth is technologically backwards and its residents are psychologically restricted to their caves of steel.
Asimov didn't come to terms with the issue in the Foundation trilogy; later on, in "Foundation's Edge" he confronted it but his solution was icky.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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