Foundation

Discussion in 'Isaac Asimov' started by Brian Turner, Sep 27, 2003.

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    Brian Turner

    Brian Turner Brian G. Turner Staff Member

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    Anyone read Isaac Asimov's Foundation series? If so, what did you think?

    I've only read "Foundation", and what struck me was, firstly, that it was basically a couple of short stories stuck together - but the two latter ones seemed to repeat themselves.

    What's the rest of the series like, and is it more focussed on being a series of novels, rather than shorts?

    :)
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    dwndrgn

    dwndrgn Fierce Vowelless One Staff Member

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    I can't help you much...this was the basis of a politics class in school and I'm not sure if I didn't have a favorable opinion of because I didn't like it or because it was required reading[​IMG]. I don't remember any of it and as I said I don't really have a favorable impression.
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    littlemissattitude

    littlemissattitude Super Moderator

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    I attempted "Foundation" once, and couldn't get into it at all. I suppose I should try again sometime.

    Actually, I have always much preferred Asimov the essayist to Asimov the science fiction writer. But that's just me.[​IMG]
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    Gnome

    Gnome Eldest & Most Wise

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    It's NOT just you !
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    littlemissattitude

    littlemissattitude Super Moderator

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    I'm glad to know I'm not alone, Gnome. I just haven't been able to warm up to a lot of Asimov's fiction. I did like his novelization of "Fantastic Voyage", which he actually wrote twice. First, he wrote the novelization of the film - which actually came out before the film did, due to delays in filming. He wasn't happy with it, so many years later he wrote the same concept the way he would have done it without being tied to the plot of the film. I liked the original novelization better than the second try. And I liked the short story "Nightfall", in which he creates a place where the stars only come out once every several hundred years. Other than that, I haven't liked much of his fiction.
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    Foxbat

    Foxbat I am a number

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    I enjoyed it but it probably is a little dated now. Based on Asimov's concept of Psychohistory - predicting the future of humanity on a large scale. It gave me an impression of the fall of the Roman Empire in space. The second book introduces a rogue element into the mix in the shape of a character called The Mule (a mutant which Psychohistory could not take into account). The third introduces the Second Foundation and its significance. Although it does get a little repetetive in places, I liked it - up until the one after Foundation's Edge (can't remember the name). It kind of got lost as far as I'm concerned as Asimov tries to tie it up to his Robot stories.
    All in all: worth a read and should be enjoyable but take it in the context of the time it was written (particularly the first 3 books).
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    Hypes

    Hypes Emperor!

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    Like the majority of the other posters here, I really couldn't get into the flow of the book nor its story. Which was too bad, because I had great expectations as it was Asimov's work. But alas, it never really caught me.
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    Ivo

    Ivo Attempt no landings.

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    Wow, how did I miss this thread!

    I have read this series more than a couple of times over the years. Its one of my favorite Sci-Fi series of all time. I think a lot of people have a hard time with it because it owes more of its story to Psychology and Sociology more than Science Fiction.

    It amazes me how ahead of his time Asimov was in incorporating future inventions into the story. Sure, some of it is outdated terminology and there is a tendency to think everything would be nuclear based in the future however to me that was just a symptom of the times he lived in.

    I liked the fact that he got into the nuts and bolts of how civilisations develop and change over the courses of many centuries, and this case milleniums. I enjoy this type of detail a lot probably due to my preference towards hard Science Fiction novels.

    Great series overall, not perfect, but breathtaking in its scope when considering the year it was initially written. I give props to both Asimov and Clarke for dredging Science Fiction out of the land of corn when most Sci-Fi was pretty hokey and not based on any form of real science.

    There is currently movies based on the novels in the works. So far I'm pretty happy with the direction its taking. Here's some further info on the project:

    Asimov's Foundation Being Adapted for Film!

    Isaac Asimov's Foundation novels have long sat on that imaginary list of "unadaptable" properties - books people would love to film but that everybody figures would be next to impossible to translate to the screen. Well, Gilliam pulled off Fear and Loathing and Jackson did rather well with Lord of the Rings and it looks as though Foundation will be the next to be scratched off that list. According to SciFi.com Jeff Vintar is currently at work writing a two film adaptation of the trilogy that will focus primarily on the second two novels with the first existing largely as backstory. Shekhar Kapur is slated to direct.

    The talent announced so far looks pretty much like a good news / bad news situation to me thus far. Vintar is also the man responsible for the adaptation of Asimov's I Robot which apparently has little resemblance to the source material whatsoever. Foundation is pretty much a sacred text to the sci-fi community so if he messes with it there will be a legion of angry, technically savvy geeks parked outside his front door yearning to do unpleasant things to him. The prospect of Kapur directing, though, has me strangely excited and I'm not sure why. The man is best known for period drama - Elizabeth was his doing - and though he's shown nothing whatsoever to indicate he's a sci-fi fan I think his ability to distill complex histories into a compelling film that has me thinking he's the man to handle the incredibly weighty material of Foundation. Here's hoping they do it justice ...

    I can't wait, I really hope they do a good job on it. To me this series is the LOTR of Sci-Fi literature.
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    Brian Turner

    Brian Turner Brian G. Turner Staff Member

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    Ivo, I've got a rather critical review of "Foundation" about to go up on the books section of the chronicles-network: http://www.chronicles-network.com/

    Would you be interested in writing a review of the same work? Ideally, I want to see different reviews of the same books, to show the different ways they can affect readers.
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    Jucifer

    Jucifer New Member

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    Asimov is a hard read. I've read his foundation series long ago. I remember I reather liked it but I needed a break every once in a while just to digest it. I don't remember much except for the mule and the other foundation of poeple who coerced the whole fate of humanity. Of course in the end good old Asimov had to inject some Robots into the scence.

    You got to remember though Asimov has an IQ of 180. I'm sure much of what he writes is quite beyond me. Just like Einstein's theories and physics are quite beyond most of us.
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    Bladerunner

    Bladerunner New Member

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    I know its like years since the last reply on this topic but i'm new!!! and i had to say that i read the series years, oh god years ago and it was great. So having just seen I Robot i ordered the whole series of Foundation from amazon, and am just about to read again, having just been dispairing over the lack of material on the shelf.
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    Foxbat

    Foxbat I am a number

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    It's good to drag up an old topic now an again - keeps the debate a-flowing.
    I'm getting the urge to hunt out the old copies and give this a read again myself. Maybe I'll finally get around to reading Forward The Foundation. :)
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    malfunkshun

    malfunkshun Stardog Champion

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    Reading only Foundation and writing a review of it without reading the other books in the series is like only reading and reviewing 1/3 of the series. And all of the chapters of Foundation were originally published as shorts. You really should read Foundation and Empire and Second Foundation before you make a judgement.

    Personally, I think the Foundation series is one of if not the best sci fi series ever written.

    edit: all this about Asimov being a 'hard read'... I've never thought that at all. Asimov is known for his simplistic style and non-flowery descriptions, if anything, his reputation is that of a relatively easy read. He's definitely not a hard sf writer.
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    Brian Turner

    Brian Turner Brian G. Turner Staff Member

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    Quite true that you can't judge a series by just one book - but my personal feeling was simply that the first novel didn't work very well as a novel, and that the writing itself left something to be desired.

    However, I'm happy to be disagreed with - there is always room for more reviews, and especially different opinions on the same work. :)
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    EffervescingElephant

    EffervescingElephant Technicolour Pachyderm

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    I agree with I Brian's comments. I've only just read the original "Foundation" trilogy this year and I found it hard going. Not because of the complexity of the politics or science but I just didn't like Asimov's style of writing. The pace seemed to me very uneven and there were no real characters to care about.

    In contrast I've just finished Ursula Le Guin's "The Dispossessed" which is also a fairly dense political piece but I loved it - the central character was well developed and the "shape" of the story was just right.
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    merritt

    merritt olaf capek

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    My suggestion: wade through the series so you can get to Foundations Edge & Foundation & Earth. They are the better reads, written when Asimov was older.

    Forward & Prelude are kind of "annhh"

    Best regrads,
    mert
  17.  
    Brian Turner

    Brian Turner Brian G. Turner Staff Member

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    Thanks for the recommendation, merritt - I have to admit I wasn't so keen on "Foundation" in novel format - but as it's essentially a collection of short stories I guess that goes some way towards that. :)

    Just as a curious pop-quiz:

    a) how extensive is the Foundation series
    b) were they all written as short stories, or were some composed as novels?
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    Leto

    Leto Outside

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    Same here.
    I only like some of his short stories (as one titled Chrono-minets in French involving time travel and cats) and the novels he wrote with Robert Silverberg (because, of the latter). Strangly, IMO his essays (sp ?) had more life and flesh in them than his novels.
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    Foxbat

    Foxbat I am a number

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    Although I like Asimov's fiction I would tend to agree with this. It was obvious from the way he wrote his essays that he was very enthusiastic about his subject matter - and this enthusiasm is transferred to the reader :)
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    pupeno

    pupeno New Member

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    I can't believe there are so many persons that doesn't like the Foundation saga. This is my short review.
    I bought the first book, I started reading and I just couldn't stop, for arround 2 or 3 hours I kept reading untill I finished and I run to the bookstore to buy the rest. Of all of them, I believe "Foundation and Empire" is the worst. I never liked The Mule and the ending is a bit artificial. But the rest is awesome... the psychohystory is awesome. Someone mentioned but I'm going to do it again: The first three books where written as short histories published separatly in magazines. The rest where written as novels. What I like of the first three is that they are more about civilizations than about characters. In the first one, the characters, that is, the persons appear for very short periods of times and the real star is the civilization or the science holding up a civilization (when the civilization doesn't even know). The last two books are more in the style of Clarke from my point of view, and I like that a lot (Clarke was my favourite writter untill I've read Foundation, now I can't decide). I love the end, with robots, gaia, GAIA!.
    About the prequels, I bought them and they where in my shelf for a long time, I like moving forward, not backwards, so, I wasn't very intresting in reading 'how it began'. But some day, dying of boringness I picked them up and started reading. Once again I couldn't stop, it was so deep. The explanations of psychohystory and how hard it was developed, it was awesome. :D :D :D
    One thing that I'd like to read is the foundation-sequels written by another persons, not Assimov. I was adviced against it a lot of times, but I also see a lot of people not liking Assimov's original work, so, I may also like that other work.

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