Doubleday & Co.
Pebble In The Sky is an ambitious novel in the van Vogt tradition of important local events affecting a greater galactic background. The time is over fifty thousand years in the future, during the expansion of the Second Galactic Empire, and before the establishment of the Foundations. All of the two hundred millions of colonized worlds, with the single exception of Earth, acknowledge Trantor as the central seat of government.
The people of Earth are outcasts, suffering vindictive discrimination because their tiny world is radioactive. Unable to trade with, or export to the rest of the Empire, Earth has sunk into a peasant state hating everyone and being actively disliked in return. Twice their revolts against the Empire have been put down, but the Council of Ancients, the Prime Minister and his Secretary, Balkis, are again about to launch an undeclared war against the Galaxy. Tons of the crystallized virus of Radiation Fever, to which Earthmen are immune, have been gathered before being spread throughout the Empire civilizations by automatic guided missiles.
Bel Arvadan, an archeologist from the Sirian Sector, blunders into the center of the plot. He meets and falls in love with an Earthie-squaw, Pola, who is trying to return a patient who has escaped from her father's clinic. Pola's father, Dr. Shekt, has illegally used a Synapsifier on a patient in order to raise his I.Q.
The patient is one Joseph Schwartz. As a victim of an accident with crude uranium in the Chicago of 1949, Schwartz has been transferred to Chica of the Galactic Era 827. His mind is stimulated by the action of the Synapsifier, and he discovers that he can read minds, control other people's actions, and even slay with a concentrated mental bolt.
When the four of them are captured by Balkis, Schwartz uses his powers to escape and destroy the germ-laden guided missiles before they can be launched. The revolt is crushed and a long-range plan to replace Earth's radioactive soil with good soil from other worlds is put into effect.
A weak and lengthy series of coincidences hold the plot together at times, but Dr. Asimov's smooth writing ability spins a plausible, and at times interesting, future history.
Text versions and page scans Judy Bemis
Data entry by Judy Bemis
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