I expected that this book would be a collection of short stories that Isaac Asimov wrote at the beginning of his career (if you can call it a career) as a science-fiction writer, but as it turns out it is somewhat more than that. While it does contain the first six published stories that he wrote, these stories are broken up with a commentary on how he became a science-fiction writer, the rejections and the acceptances, the amount that he was paid for the piece of work, and also how he developed his own style.
One interesting thing that I noticed was that Asimov does not write to a plan. I have read numerous authors say that you must structure your text and you must put a lot of development into a character, and even a minor character, and you must have a plan which you follow. Asimov will have none of that, yet he is still a famous science-fiction writer. Mind you these stories were written before his more famous works, such as Foundation and the Robot stories (the best of which were collected in I-Robot), and I have noticed that a lot of things have changed since when he first started writing.
One thing that has constantly struck me with Asimov is that he rarely used aliens in his books, however in three of these pieces there are aliens. It seemed that as he matured as a writer, particularly since he wrote 'hard science-fiction', aliens did not really have a part to play in his works. Asimov, as a writer, was somewhat like Verne in that he was interested in realistic possibilities and to date the existence of aliens has yet to be proven (unless of course you are referring to illegal aliens).
It is a shame that the first ever story that he wrote was pretty much binned because it was something I would have liked to read. He says that the first story was about a man who goes into the future and sees that humanity has been wiped out, along with all other living things. He then goes back to the present, is locked up in a lunatic asylum, and then ends up committing suicide. The editors of the magazine that he was submitting it to said that it was too depressing. Well, that may have been the case but as it turns out, years later (over half a century) a movie came out (Twelve Monkeys) that was very much in that vain.
My favourite story in this book (and Asimov used the theme of racism a couple of times because he was a Jew and the final solution was currently being worked out in Germany) was called 'The Weapon Too Dreadful to Use'. Basically it is about how Earth colonised Venus and the Venusians (I won't call them Venitians because, well, they come from Venice, not Venus) have been turned into slave labour. However, they rise up against their tyrants and kick them off the planet, and no matter what Earth does, they just simply cannot defeat these natives. Another one, called 'Black Friar of the Flame' was about how Earth was dominated by a race of lizardine aliens and there was a religion with its headquarter's in New York. However, the aliens defiled the temple and set off a rebellion, which the humans won. Apparently it is based upon the Jewish uprising against the Romans, though the difference is that the Jews lost that particular war. Oh, it has also been voted as the worst story Asimov ever wrote.