Pebble in the Sky by Isaac Asimov
Pebble In the SkyJoseph Schwartz is walking down a Chicago street contemplating poetry. When he steps over a doll, his life changes completely. After dizziness and a feeling of being turned inside out, he discovers he is in a foreign place of grass and trees – the city was gone. What he didn’t know yet is that his century is gone as well.
Earth is now a backward planet, a small speck in the Galaxy, with savage inhabitants. Trantor is the center of civilization. Bel Arvardan is an archeologist with strange ideas. He believes that the Galaxy’s people all sprang from one planet, the unimportant, radioactive Earth. Most other preeminent scientists believe in the Merging Theory, where men were a product of the merging of many species from different planets. Arvardan travels to Earth to prove his theories.
Affret Shekt is a physicist on Earth, living in the city of Chica. Although the Galaxy knows Earthmen are subhuman, occasionally they recognize genius when it appears. Shekt is one who seems to have overcome his heredity. Arvardan wants to visit Shekt. Meanwhile, Shekt has been working on a machine to improve the brain. Now he needs a human volunteer.
This is one of Asimov’s early science fiction novels. It predates the Foundation series, and eventually the author uses the galaxy created here for his Foundation civilization. It is thought through and complete in it’s background and setting. The characters are believable, the plot plausible, especially for 1940’s knowledge of physics. This has been sitting on Mt. Bookpile for years. Finally, I got to this, and I’m glad.