I actually completed a second reading of this work of genius several weeks ago, and have read other books since, but only now feel compelled to write my thoughts down. The book is presented in three parts; however it is the second part which I found most interesting. It is here I will issue a spoiler alert. This discussion will disclose too much unless you, as a reader, have finished that section. A digital copy of the book (for quick reading) may be obtained through Amazon.
The story is one in which a race of beings exists as a triad instead of dual sexes as we know. The members of the triad are loosely given male and female pronouns, which serve very little purpose other than they are signals used in the English language. The individual functions of the three are Rational, Parental, and Emotional – Odeen, Tritt, and Dua, respectively. Daily life for the triad makes sense as Odeen is fulfilled by his work, Tritt by keeping a good home, and Dua by creativity, though she is supposed to be fulfilled by things as flippant as pampering oneself with tasty foods or luxurious treatments - pleasure.
Sexual release for them is rewarding to all three, but in different ways. Odeen is able to think more efficiently, afterward gaining moments of inspiration not otherwise obtainable. Tritt longs for babies to make their family complete and will lose interest in sex when this objective is reached. And Dua, who is supposed to be practically void of mind (like most women, in Asimov’s opinion), but isn’t. Instead she is gifted with curiosity, which drives her to learn, which enables her to think both critically and creatively. She discovers an activity she believes anyone could participate in, but society has discouraged, almost prohibited, which she enjoys and decides to immerse herself into.
As a student of Asimov, I present here that I believe the activity Asimov was enjoying was smoking cannabis. I believe Dua’s mind expansion was due to her practice of the prohibited activity, and that Asimov’s prohibited activity was smoking weed.
Because she was expanding her mind with the prohibited activity, sex became just as inspirational for Dua as it was for Odeen. As Dua was pouring all of her energy into mind expansion, and because she wasn’t eating right, sex was non-reproductive, but very productive for her creativity.
I present here, that Asimov felt an immense gratitude for his discovery of cannabis. He conceived an entire Universe with the mind-expanding freedom of creative thought he received by toking up. America’s War on Drugs made it impossible to admit openly that he was a friend of Mary Jane.
Dua obsessed nearly to the point of death, but was rescued by the rational partner. And in coming to the moment that she reached perfect understanding, she, along with the other two members of the triad, were irresistibly transformed (by their understanding – coupled with an irresistible urge to have sex) into the next stage of life for them, a singular being of all three in one; a more perfect being, a “hard one”.
As humans mature, we become “hard ones” as we tend to diminish our emotions more and more, to the point where we have the greatest respect for those who are the least emotional of all. Individuals with the greatest decorum and patience are elected by the populace to represent them in matters of State and business because they aren’t ruled by their emotions. Gene Roddenberry’s Mr. Spock might very well be Asimov’s ideal candidate for President of the United States as Spock’s emotions are entirely suppressed and his thoughts are purely rational.
Clubs and fraternal organizations manipulate individuals into becoming hard ones by pushing their limits and forcing them to suppress emotions in order to maintain decorum. This forced decorum, to Asimov, is satisfactory and is the only route by which most non-creative thinkers can hope to reach true maturity. He expresses his opinion, however, that the most desirable path to true maturity (and true enlightenment) is knowledge, obtained through studious, creative thought, enhanced by mind-expanding cannabis and healthy, loving, completely immersive sex.
Throughout the story however, is the recurring theme that the hard ones, in having reached maturity without achieving wisdom, have no emotion to allow them to empathize with those whom they exploit. They are non-creative hard ones. It is only when a creative hard one arrives, one with true maturity, true wisdom, that there is finally hope for the exploited beings at the other end of the pump. A savior has arrived.