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Publisher's Summary

High above the planet Florinia, the Squires of Sark live in unimaginable wealth and comfort. Down in the eternal spring of the planet, however, the native Florinians labor ceaselessly to produce the precious kyrt that brings prosperity to their Sarkite masters. Rebellion is unthinkable and impossible. Living among the workers of Florinia, Rik is a man without a memory or a past. He has been abducted and brainwashed. Barely able to speak or care for himself when he was found, Rik is widely regarded as a simpleton by the worker community where he lives. But as his memories begin to return, Rik finds himself driven by a cryptic message he is determined to deliver: Everyone on Florinia is doomed . . . the Currents of Space are bringing destruction. But if the planet is evacuated, the power of Sark will end--so some would finish the job and would kill the messenger. The fate of the Galaxy hangs in the balance.
©1952 Isaac Asimov; (P)2009 BBC Audio

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  • thomas
  • charlotte, NC, United States
  • 04-16-13

Good Solid Asimov

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

Currents of Space is certainly not Asimov's best. However it is a good, solid stand alone story that is within his Galactic Empire Series (Stars Like Dust, Pebble in the Sky). These novels (along with the End of Eternity) fit (in my opinion) into a "boyhood sci-fi genre". Clever plot-lines that a re entertaining and keep your interest. I enjoyed it.

Would you recommend The Currents of Space to your friends? Why or why not?

I would. The under tones of racial prejudice and economics were reminiscent of Colonial America and, though simplistic were thought provoking. This is clearly not on par with Le Guin or Herbert but this is a fast paced story with a lot of turns in it, it reads more like a detective novel.

Which character – as performed by Kevin T. Collins – was your favorite?

His characterization of the Squires was fantastic. I frankly don't know how he could affect some of those accents, I found it impressive.Some people may find his feminization of some of the Squires offensive but it really put them in a light similar to the dandies of English Colonial America. I thought he did a great job.

Was The Currents of Space worth the listening time?

I decided to re-read all the Galactic Empire Series, which is the worth the time for me. If you will only read 1 non-Foundation Asimov I would recommend End of Eternity. But if you are a "completist" for Asimov's earlier work, then I think it is well worth the listen.

Any additional comments?

This novel is over 50 years old, some of the basic cosmological premises are no longer considered correct. Asimov was a tenured bio-chemistry professor, so his interest in science is clearly evident and far be it from me to criticize it. As a ready you will need to "suspend your disbelief" if you are hard sci-fi fan.I didn't find this to be a problem, the material was thought provoking on a social and scientific basis.

25 of 26 people found this review helpful

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  • Jonathan
  • San Diego, CA, United States
  • 10-18-13

Narrator is fantastic

Would you consider the audio edition of The Currents of Space to be better than the print version?

Yes! This is my favorite of the 3 Empire series books. There is more suspense in this book than the others and you have that feeling of worrying about the characters like in a war movie. The characters are well developed and they stand out from one another as having distinct personalities. The people are divided into several levels of status and the relationships between them are interesting. Some of the older Asimov books have characters that are hard to tell apart. The plot is complex with plenty of mystery. The true nature of some of the characters is deceptive which makes the characters complex. There is a theme of oppression and there are parallels to European empires and their extractive societies in the new world. One funny twist is that the oppressed people have light skin while the oppressors have dark skin and dark hair. It's fascinating to see how something like this could happen between planets within a larger empire. It's cool to see how Trantor is portrayed as a ascending empire unlike the all powerful empire of Foundation. The narration of the audiobook is interesting because the narrator uses at least 6 different accents as the voices for the different levels of the societies and cultures. From the bottom class to the top class they range from southern-US hillbilly, irish, American, Russian, French, snotty british at the very top. The british overlords sound like Wooster in the PG Wodehouse Wooster and Jeeves books. It's pretty hilarious and makes the book especially entertaining.

14 of 15 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Patrick
  • putnam valley, United States Minor Outlying Islands
  • 11-26-09

currents of space

the narrator did a great job - even keeping the accent between inter-planetary characters. Asimov as always delivers the sci-fi/detective story that keeps you interested and entertained - not too much detail to bore you just enough for the story.

14 of 15 people found this review helpful

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Interesting mystery

This isn't formatted like a mystery novel though toward the end you do need some answers. The writing is engaging enough that there never seems to be "slow" parts. There isn't a lot of heavy milieu stuff like some Asimov. He really lets the story move with characters that you can care about. I think this is the best Asimov I've read/listened to to date.

8 of 9 people found this review helpful

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Long short story

I believe early Asimov did not understand the difference between a novel and a short story. His short stories are usually pretty good. His novels early on are short stories lengthened with nothing new between.

Asimov was an idea man. He comes up with really great ideas, which are usually better showcased in short stories, such as The Big Question, An Ugly boy, and most robot stories. He develops better characters in his short stories, such as Susan Calvin.

These early empire novels are boring due to all the action and drama he tries to incorporate into the middle of them.

The Gods Themselves which he wrote later in his career is my favorite.

I would like to say that the narrator is excellent. He does not have a distinctive voice like John Lee, Stephen Rudnick, or Frank Muller, but that might actually be a plus. You spend less time admiring his voice and more attention to the story. Like Dick Hill, he has lots of talent and you may listen to several different books read by him and not even think about the narrator as it should be. He put a lot of work and feeling into a dull story. I hope I catch him in some better books.

24 of 29 people found this review helpful

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Good classic story

Would you listen to The Currents of Space again? Why?

Another great Asimov story. The narrator makes some strange decision in regards to accents for the characters - but he is very consistent about it which make it easy to follow who is talking at any point in time. This is a nice sci-fi story written around a mystery. This story takes place in Asimov's galactic empire and again he has set this story during the time frame of the expansion period of the galactic empire from Trantor. I like the story, it is a quick read/listen and Asimov's universe is always consistent... which is nice going from book to book. Narration is decent too.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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Slow start but interesting story

I'm a fan of Isaac Asimov and just read "The Currents of Space" the second time. Years ago when I read all of Asimov's books, I thought the Galactic Empire series were not as good as the others. I later read somewhere (maybe in Asimov's memoir) that this series had a different publisher, and he accepted much of their changes despite his better judgment. This included changing the book titles (The Stars, like Dust; The Currents of Space; and Pebble in the Sky), which is why this series is slightly different from the rest of his books (Robot series and Foundation series).

If you like Isaac Asimov, read the books in chronological order (Robot, Galactic Empire, and Foundation). The Galactic Empire series is still good. Since it's been so long when I last read this book, I have forgotten the plot. In the usual Asimov's style, the reader is left guessing until the end. The only thing I didn't like about the book is that I think the pace is slow.

8 of 11 people found this review helpful

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The kyrt must flow

I was surprised and pleased when I realised this story was apparently a critique on European imperialism (in South America?). The critique focuses the harsh oppression of one people with a valuable natural resource by another more powerful people without, motivated by greed, and not saddled with a conscience.

There is somewhat less action and more in the way of detective work, economics, and social commentary than most sci-fi. I thought that made for an excellent story, even though Currents of Space is not regarded as one of Isaac Asimov's best works.

I particularly enjoyed the end where (***SPOILER ALERT!***) it is made clear that the types who get themselves into power are also the types whose consciences are not troubled in the least by the thought of subjugating and even murdering huge numbers of people to preserve their positions of power or wealth.

This book is part of the Empire series, but not having read any other books in that series, I can't say more about this fact other than the books are apparently so loosely connected that each stand on its own.

I recommend this book to fans of vintage sci-fi and especially those who enjoy it spiced with social commentary.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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One of Asimov's better ones

Asimov has never been one of my favorite SF authors, but I fondly remember reading many of his short stories when I was a child. He seemed to do best in that form, as he was full of ideas and could pack his encyclopedic knowledge of everything under the sun into a few pages, and never mind the cardboard personalities of his characters.

The Currents of Space is set on the planet Florinia, whose inhabitants harvest "kyrt," which can be made into the most desirable cloth in the galaxy: it is super-durable, incredibly sheet, and infinitely useful. For some reason, kyrt only grows in the way it does on Florinia, among all the planets in the galaxy. (The reason for this is revealed in the climax.)

Florinia is ruled by the wealthy Sarkites, who profit from controlling the sole source of kyrt, and who treat the Florinians like serfs. Florinian society is divided into the laboring class and "Townsmen," who are the local representatives of Sarkite authority. They are educated and given special privileges, and so put above the ordinary Florinians. In other words, they're overseers.

When an amnesiac named Rik (which is a nickname meaning "idiot" to the Florinians) is found on Florinia, he triggers a series of escapades involving a cast of Florinians, Sarkites, and representatives from Trantor, the most powerful planet in the galaxy. The Trantorians dislike the Sarkites' oppression of the Florinians, but they fear being accused of imperialist ambitions themselves, and will not risk war with Sark - both because of galactic political sentiment, and because they'd risk cutting off the kyrt supply.

In case the metaphor eludes you, it's explicitly stated that kyrt, grown anywhere but on Florinia, is ordinary cotton. So the story turns out to be a combination of planetary adventure and morality tale; Florinia must be saved in more ways than one.

The plot was well written and brought out the motives and personalities of Florinians, Sarkites, and Trantorians, none of whom are wholly good or wholly evil. I was also pleased at Asimov's descriptions of this advanced interstellar civilization; despite being written in 1952, it was not as dated as some other Golden Age sci-fi. (Except for the women, of course. Asimov didn't treat his women as badly as Heinlein: he just treated them as woman-shaped plot devices.)

If you like good old-fashioned intelligent space opera in a perfectly self-contained story (The Currents of Space is supposedly part of a trilogy and linked to Asimov's Foundation series, but it stands alone just fine), it is definitely worth reading.

I found the narration to be particularly good in this audiobook, as Kevin T. Collins subtly shaded our perceptions of the characters by giving them definitive accents. The Sarkites: snooty and English. The Florinians: common and rural. A few of the cops ("patrollers") had Irish accents, and other characters likewise had accents that fit their personalities and roles in the story.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

The timeless Asimov genius...

This is yet another shining example of Asimov???s grasp of theoretical physics and social responsibilities that was way ahead of his time. Considering that he wrote this in 1952, the science is sound concerning, the working of stars, and is still widely held by many experts today. He also addresses the disparity between the working class who are trapped by their linage and the aristocratic ruling classes with their view of cheapened life of these workers.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful