•   LESTER del REY, Editor – Best Science Fiction Stories of the Year: Second Annual Edition. E. P. Dutton, hardcover. 1973. Ace, paperback, December 1975.

       #4. ISAAC ASIMOV “The Greatest Asset.” Short story. First published in Analog SF, January 1972. First collected in Buy Jupiter and Other Stories (Doubleday, hardcover, 1972). Also reprinted in Holt Anthology of Science Fiction (Holt Rinehart & Winston, no editor stated, trade paperback, 2000).

       Part of the motto of the Earth of the future is is “The Greatest Asset Is a Balanced Ecology,” and to that end, all life on the planet, human and otherwise, is micromanaged, down to very nearly every single blade of grass, overseen by powerful computers which make every decision for the welfare of Earth with very little human input.

       When a young scientist based on the Moon comes to Earth to ask for reconsideration of a huge ecological project that the computers have rejected, it is the Secretary General of Ecology that he talks to, a real person. It is the final decision that’s made that is the point of the story.

       For a writer of the renown of Isaac Asimov, this is a very minor and didactically told story, confirmed by the fact that only one other anthology has seen fit since to include it within its pages. I happen to agree with the decision that’s made, but I wouldn’t have included the story among the year’s best for 1972.


    Previously from the del Rey anthology: GORDON EKLUND “Underbelly.”