Isaac Asimov or Frank Herbert, Who is Greater?

BAYLOR

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Which then is the greater in terms of their impact and influence upon Science fiction not only literature but all other mediums as well. Foundation or Dune ?:)
And which of them do you think , is the better overall writer?:)


Thoughts ?
 

farntfar

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Possibly the greatest influence on Sci-Fi was Asimov, but not via the Foundation series, But rather in his collections of short stories with the creation of the 3 laws of robotics.
These have been more or less taken as absolutes by so many writers of robotic stories since then.
 

Parson

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Baylor, that is a really hard question!

Both series (and I assume we are talking about the Dune series and the Foundation series and not simply their authors) are classics of the first order. If we are talking Science Fiction of the purest sense, then I go with Asimov's foundation. For me Dune read like a S.F. series that descended into Fantasy.

If we are talking about the authors and their whole literary output than Asimov by a mile. Frank Herbert was pretty much a one trick pony, an excellent trick but only one and not didn't have nearly the range of Asimov.
 

Vince W

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I would have to say Asimov is the greater influence simply by the sheer volume of work. He created many science fiction ideas that have since been recycled many times.

While Dune is my favourite book it was clearly influenced by Foundation in places. Asimov did it first, Herbert gave it a new flavour.
 

BAYLOR

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I would have to say Asimov is the greater influence simply by the sheer volume of work. He created many science fiction ideas that have since been recycled many times.

While Dune is my favourite book it was clearly influenced by Foundation in places. Asimov did it first, Herbert gave it a new flavour.
How many of Asimov books are in still in print vs how many of Herbert's ?
 

Bick

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How many of Asimov books are in still in print vs how many of Herbert's ?
Lots versus not many.

Asimov had the biggest influence and 'footprint' in the genre, by a country mile.
Herbert wrote the best individual book, but if you remove Dune, there's not even a conversation to be had.

I would also argue Asimov was the better writer. I know the general view is that he wrote very simply and directly, with limited artistic flair. But try writing as beautifully in such a simple style, and make it seem as effortless and uncluttered as Asimov did, and see how well you do. For his 'style' I'd say he was almost without peer.
 

Bick

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If we are talking Science Fiction of the purest sense, then I go with Asimov's foundation. For me Dune read like a S.F. series that descended into Fantasy.
I'm not sure about that. Is the Mule more SF than the Bene Gesserit? Aren't they similar in their fantastical abilities? I love both, but they both nudge against fantasy elements for me. Which I'm fine with.
 

Venusian Broon

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I'm not sure about that. Is the Mule more SF than the Bene Gesserit? Aren't they similar in their fantastical abilities? I love both, but they both nudge against fantasy elements for me. Which I'm fine with.
Weird - or at least my interpretation of the same works, goes the other way-ish. Bene Gesserit, most definitely SF, Mule clearly straining at fantasy for me. (ACC - another one of the the "big four" also dabbled with "psychic forces" with Childhood's end and all the malarky with spoon bending individuals...)

The only fantastical element of Herbert's Dune that I really contend is, that is very, very probably* not of this world, is the precognition bit. (Although as that fascinating interview with Frank showed that I posted a while back, he sortof believed that precognition is indeed latent amongst us, right now!)

Also I'd make a distinction about Asimov's different literary forms. Admitedly purely from my own opinion, hence worthless :), I think he did write exceptional short stories. But his novels were largely dissappointing and not that good overall and haven't stood the test of time.

Have not read his non-fiction so can't comment, assume it was a US thing, but didn't really see any of it here in Scotland at all.

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* I mean I'm a rational sceptic, but, hey, perhaps there is something there that we haven't stumbled upon, so, just like God, gotta keep it there in the back of my mind.
 

Bick

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Weird - or at least my interpretation of the same works, goes the other way-ish. Bene Gesserit, most definitely SF, Mule clearly straining at fantasy for me.
Yeah, I'm not suggesting the mule was more SF, I'm asking if he is? i.e. perhaps he isn't? So, I think we sort of agree.

But his novels were largely disappointing and not that good overall and haven't stood the test of time.
Wash your mouth out young man, no one wants to hear language like that on the forum.
 

Ori Vandewalle

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Also I'd make a distinction about Asimov's different literary forms. Admitedly purely from my own opinion, hence worthless :), I think he did write exceptional short stories. But his novels were largely dissappointing and not that good overall and haven't stood the test of time.
I don't know if I'd say his short stories were better than his novels, but they were punchier. The "plain" style doesn't have time to lose its charm over the course of a short story. And his great sense of humor enables him to basically structure a short story as a joke with setup and punchline.
 

Parson

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I would argue that there are more "fantasy" aspects for Herbert than Asimov. The Mule most definitely slides into fantasy but I feel the All knowing aspect, the Bene Gesserit and the working out of the central prophesy to say nothing of the in the Dune series feels a lot less S.F. to me.
 

Robert Zwilling

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I find Dune to be more adventurous than Foundation. I like reading both authors. I think Asimov as a person working with words had a much bigger impact than Herbert. They both constructed great structures that are still standing. Herbert built an exceptionally large and mysterious amusement park anchored nowhere in particular while Asimov built a dynamic city strongly secured to the ground. Asimov's writing had a much bigger impact on my thinking of how things work than Herbert did. I think the Dune movies and miniseries did more to elevate Dune as a classic work of science fiction than any Asimov movies accomplished. The only one I know of to make it big, I Robot, was based on his ideas, not on a story. Seems like Asimov usually had one foot standing firmly on reality while Herbert was flying high overhead.
 

Venusian Broon

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Wash your mouth out young man, no one wants to hear language like that on the forum.
What, you're saying the Bad* sex in Foundation and Earth was high quality ;) :LOL:

I might be a generation thing. I'm getting on a half century and, bar some short stories, I didn't really read much of the Golden Era of SF (1950-60ish) till much later. So my SF when very young was New Wave and 'The New Wave of British Space Opera' etc. An era that I'd argue handled characters a hell of a lot better than most Golden age authors (not saying it was all good of course, but then neither was a lot of the Golden Era, so swings and roundabouts). Hence that's the sort of comparisons that are going in my brain.

Herbert falls more into 'my' SF camp I suppose rather than the more distant Asimov. Yeah, maybe at the time Asimov ( & ACC, Heinlein - let's fill up the Big Four) were so far ahead of the game, and they were sort of like the Beatles of SF, doing things that no one else had done. And I can see that and appreciate them for that. But then I don't really like the Beatles either** ACC's novels, for all the nostaliga some give me, don't really hold up nowadays either.

@Parson As I mentioned above, from a science viewpoint, the precognition thing rapidly falls down for me - and one can go through other of Herbert's starting points for a lot of his Dune SF ideas and pooh-pooh them - for example the idea of vast genetic memories residing in our DNA. But then all hard SF tends to fall apart over time (For example., Space rockets with crews using slide rules to compute course changes might have made perfect sense in the 1940s, but now is a tad anachronistic :)) and Herbert used what he had at the time and extrapolated.

However one of the things that I found refreshing about his writing was the placing of Religion centre to the future Human experience and something worthy to examine and discuss in a SF setting, hence prophesy etc. Something, even today, SF authors tend to either ignore or treat with disdain (for example Alastair Reynolds, when he has religion, usually has it being passed as an actual virus). Now, I'm not religious, nor seemingly have a 'spiritual' bone in my body, but I fully expect some form of religion to be part of Human society in the future.

I had a Beta reader - one that didn't really read SF - say that she was surprised that there was religion in my future SF. The implication being, I assume, that she expects religion to die out and we all become rational science-based humans. Or SF doesn't do this. Yes, like me, she had a science PhD, but there seems to be some sort of hard coded idea that SF = no religion, which personally I don't understand. It's a complicated topic, but I see it as part of the human experience, past and future.

I'm starting to waffle. I'll stop. ;)
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* Definitely, sorry!
** Give me Hendrix or the late sixities-early seventies Stones instead please if we are talking about older pop/rock music!
 

Vince W

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I would also argue Asimov was the better writer. I know the general view is that he wrote very simply and directly, with limited artistic flair. But try writing as beautifully in such a simple style, and make it seem as effortless and uncluttered as Asimov did, and see how well you do. For his 'style' I'd say he was almost without peer.
This is 100% true. I just finished Foundation again and it's incredible how much information Asimov packed in with so few words. The stories full of tension and excitement, rolling along at a fast pace without wasting a single word. Wonderful stuff.
 

InfiniteStarsDev

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I've definitely read more Frank Herbert than Asimov, so I'm biased.
Dune had a profound impact on me, and I'd like to think it also inspired some of my own writing. As a contributor to society and our way of thinking, Asimov. As a writer of fantastic stories that inspire and excite me, Frank. But again, having read the Dune series 3 times from start to finish over the past 20 years, I am biased.
 

BAYLOR

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I'm not sure about that. Is the Mule more SF than the Bene Gesserit? Aren't they similar in their fantastical abilities? I love both, but they both nudge against fantasy elements for me. Which I'm fine with.
My impression was that Mule had the ability to alter the brain patterns of those he wished to control and alteration appears to be permanent. The Ben Gesserit was of conrteoll with voice is more like Hypnotism and Deons;' appear to be long lasting,. Though Im a bit unclear on that last part. :unsure:
 

JimC

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Herbert was a two trick pony. I didn't care for Dune, but Dragon in the Sea was great.

Asimov was better.
 
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