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Second Foundation

posted on October 5, 2021

At the end of Foundation, the triumph of Hari Seldon’s Foundation seemed assured. So Asimov decides to throw a wrench into the works with the creation of the misbegotten warlord the Mule. Asimov apparently did this at the insistence of his then editor John Campbell. However it came about, the Mule becomes one of the very best SF characters ever. With his ability to control minds over great distances, he brings the Foundation’s march across the galaxy to a halt (I was going to say screeching halt, but there’s no sound in a vacuum. A fact robustly ignored in SF films. Yes, I’m talking about you, Star Wars) and the book ends with the Mule seemingly in full charge of things. Speaking of cinematic adaptations as I believe I just was, I’ve seen the trailers for the Foundation TV series, and, based on that alone, I’m not seeing much there that I recognize from the books. They appear to have removed everything after the title. I can’t stress enough that if you want to really experience what Asimov intended, you owe it to yourself to read the books.

 

 

Booking It

posted on September 24, 2021

Busy, busy, busy. The Flash Friday will return soon, but at the moment I’m in the middle working on the next Complete Funky Volume. In the meantime, this is your chance to catch up on the other volumes out there.

Foundation

posted on September 2, 2021

During the late summer of 1941, Isaac Asimov began work on his transcendent masterpiece Foundation. He has described on many occasions how he decided to take the lessons of Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire and apply them to the future of the galaxy writ large. It sounds simple enough, but it was a 21 year-old Jewish writer living in Brooklyn who got there first. And it changed science fiction and began moving the genre from BEMs and into more thoughtful extrapolations of where life could be going.

The plot basically involves the creation of a psychohistory by a scientist/psychologist named Hari Seldon. Psychohistory is a tool by which Seldon hopes to quickly return society from a dark age that he sees following the Galactic Empire’s collapse. Anticipated challenges are set up and the overcome by the Foundation, the vehicle of Seldon’s plans for a rebirth of civilization. As each challenge is overcome, the now dead Seldon shows up as a hologram to congratulate everybody.

In terms of style, Asimov also moves SF from an almost exclusive action oriented form, to stories dominated by people having conversations. The fascinating part is how Asimov makes these conversations so engaging and interesting. It’s just one of a number of things that make the Foundation stories such a great read, and why they hold up so well to this day. And why I’m so looking forward to reading the Second Foundation.

 

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