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Old May 28 2011, 09:27 PM   #46
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Re: Isaac Asimov?

Asimov wasn't the first SF author I read (I think Andre Norton and later the juveniles of Heinlein preceded him), but he was the first adult writer I read. I remember the summer I was 12 going to the public library each evening to read I, Robot and the Science News. The librarian commented to me one day that I could just check it out, but I enjoyed my daily visit too much.

By the way, where would Gene Wolfe fit in these various pantheons?
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Old May 28 2011, 09:37 PM   #47
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Re: Isaac Asimov?

The Foundation and Robot series are his most imaginitive works, and their timelines eventually converge into one grand narrative of human occupation of the galaxy.
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Old May 28 2011, 11:04 PM   #48
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Re: Isaac Asimov?

Christopher wrote: View Post
CorporalCaptain wrote: View Post
Goliath wrote: View Post
The last Asimov novel I read was The Gods Themselves, and I couldn't even tell you what that was about.
In a nutshell, it's a metaphor for pollution.
More to the point, it was Asimov's response to the conventional wisdom that he couldn't write about aliens or sex.


Owain Taggart wrote: View Post
You certainly can't go wrong with any of his works. One thing to note though, is that he eventually tried to tie all of his stories and series together, probably one of the first attempts of world building on a big scale, and likely due to his publisher.
If anything, Asimov's efforts to unify his separate works into a single universe were a rather late example of that process. Multiple authors had done it before Asimov started doing it. Larry Niven's Known Space universe came about because he wrote a story in the late '60s that drew on elements from two of his previous, formerly unrelated continuities. Poul Anderson had merged his van Rijn and Flandry series by the '70s at the latest. Other authors like Heinlein and, I think, Pohl had extended universes established in the '60s.
Burroughs did so with his invention of Jason Gridley and the Gridley Wave which linked the Tarzan, Barsoom, Pellucidar and Amtor series.
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Old May 29 2011, 12:47 AM   #49
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Re: Isaac Asimov?

Nerys Myk wrote: View Post
Christopher wrote: View Post
CorporalCaptain wrote: View Post

In a nutshell, it's a metaphor for pollution.
More to the point, it was Asimov's response to the conventional wisdom that he couldn't write about aliens or sex.


Owain Taggart wrote: View Post
You certainly can't go wrong with any of his works. One thing to note though, is that he eventually tried to tie all of his stories and series together, probably one of the first attempts of world building on a big scale, and likely due to his publisher.
If anything, Asimov's efforts to unify his separate works into a single universe were a rather late example of that process. Multiple authors had done it before Asimov started doing it. Larry Niven's Known Space universe came about because he wrote a story in the late '60s that drew on elements from two of his previous, formerly unrelated continuities. Poul Anderson had merged his van Rijn and Flandry series by the '70s at the latest. Other authors like Heinlein and, I think, Pohl had extended universes established in the '60s.
Burroughs did so with his invention of Jason Gridley and the Gridley Wave which linked the Tarzan, Barsoom, Pellucidar and Amtor series.
Wow, that's cool, I didn't know that. I thought Michael Moorcock was the first or definitely one of the first to do this, when he wrote "The Eternal Champion" and basically said that all the main characters of all the books he'd previously written were basically the same guy in different dimensions.
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Old May 29 2011, 01:16 AM   #50
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Re: Isaac Asimov?

Wow this thread filled up quick! At our last library book sale, I bought an entire set of the Ask Isaac encyclopedias for $5. Maybe they are dated, but a little KB24 might need to be properly educated someday!
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Old May 29 2011, 05:07 AM   #51
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Re: Isaac Asimov?

For anyone that's interested, here is an old radio show of the Foundation Trilogy in the public domain.

http://www.archive.org/details/Isaac...ndationTrilogy
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Old May 29 2011, 05:14 AM   #52
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Re: Isaac Asimov?

I'm a pretty big fan of Asimov, myself. Not quite so much as Clarke, but I very much enjoy his stuff. The Foundation trilogy being my personal favourite.

Dennis wrote: View Post
Science fiction has yet to produce a writer of Hemingway's calibre, of course.
Vonnegut, maybe?
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Old May 29 2011, 05:39 AM   #53
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Re: Isaac Asimov?

Though he tried like crazy to eschew the sf label, no?
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Old May 29 2011, 05:45 AM   #54
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Re: Isaac Asimov?

I liked the Foundation series, but I stop after the one with The Mule.

To be honest, I hate the Three Laws of Robotics. Fine for its time, but every single robot story now has to have them. It gets tedious. Especially the assumption in such stories that all robots are automatically programmed that way.
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Old May 29 2011, 06:57 AM   #55
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Re: Isaac Asimov?

JRoss wrote: View Post
Especially the assumption in such stories that all robots are automatically programmed that way.
The explanation given, if I recall correctly, was that the original R&D that resulted in positronic brain technology was so extensive and expensive that, once it had been completed with the Three Laws hardwired (not programmed in the sense I think you are thinking of) in a fully integrated way into the design, it would have been too expensive to do it all over again just to remove the Laws. And some roboethicists "lost" some of the original development notes that might have provided a shortcut to such a re-do. Minor tinkering and obvious upgrades to individual components could still be made, but the overall design was written in stone, more or less - Three Laws included.
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Old May 29 2011, 07:01 AM   #56
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Re: Isaac Asimov?

USS Triumphant wrote: View Post
JRoss wrote: View Post
Especially the assumption in such stories that all robots are automatically programmed that way.
The explanation given, if I recall correctly, was that the original R&D that resulted in positronic brain technology was so extensive and expensive that, once it had been completed with the Three Laws hardwired (not programmed in the sense I think you are thinking of) in a fully integrated way into the design, it would have been too expensive to do it all over again just to remove the Laws. And some roboethicists "lost" some of the original development notes that might have provided a shortcut to such a re-do. Minor tinkering and obvious upgrades to individual components could still be made, but the overall design was written in stone, more or less - Three Laws included.
Yeah the Robot stories were written before the idea of software really existed. There was no programming as we think of it. The positronic brains were hardware and as such could not really be changed.
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Old May 29 2011, 08:17 AM   #57
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Re: Isaac Asimov?

Harvey wrote: View Post
Though he tried like crazy to eschew the sf label, no?
He did, but I don't think it matters what he called it. If The Sirens of Titan, Slaughter-house Five, Cat's Cradle, et al aren't SF, then I'll eat my hat.
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Old May 29 2011, 09:59 AM   #58
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Re: Isaac Asimov?

Allyn Gibson wrote: View Post
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I definitely don't recommend the Second Foundation Trilogy by the Killer Bs. It was well written (of course), but not good Foundation. It was inconsistent with the original and-- well, I won't post spoilers, but let's just say it introduced an idea which was a great SF concept, but completely inappropriate for the Foundation Universe.
Benford's book is, and there's no way to sugarcoat this, awful. He completely missed the point of Asimov's Foundation universe.

The next two, though -- Greg Bear's Foundation and Chaos and David Brin's Foundation's Triumph -- are, I think, the best Foundation since Foundation's Edge.
I don't really remember which was which at this point, but stuff like using robots and calling them tiktoks was just thumbing their nose at the conceits of the Foundation universe; and, of course, the explanation for the Human-only galaxy just totally changed the whole character of the series. They should have done what the Psychohistorical Crisis guy did and done an independent homage.

Owain Taggart wrote: View Post
RJDiogenes wrote: View Post
I also second the recommendation of Psychohistorical Crisis. It's Big SF like, say, Vinge's "Marooned In Realtime," and very enjoyable. However, I definitely don't recommend the Second Foundation Trilogy by the Killer Bs. It was well written (of course), but not good Foundation. It was inconsistent with the original and-- well, I won't post spoilers, but let's just say it introduced an idea which was a great SF concept, but completely inappropriate for the Foundation Universe.
Which is why I say I felt Psychohistorical Crisis was more respectful and true to Asimov's vision than the trilogy by the Killer B's It's a shame that the novel didn't get authorized by the estate. But in a way, it's better for it as the author didn't really have any restraints and was able to go in a direction without stepping on any toes, like a vision of the world through someone else's eyes. The introduction of the familiar or fam was brilliant and very Asimov.
Agreed on both counts. As I've stated elsewhere, I believe strongly in artistic integrity. If you're going to play in somebody else's universe, you've got to respect the source material. If you want the freedom to riff on their concepts, you use their universe as a starting point for your own.

The Lensman wrote: View Post
For anyone that's interested, here is an old radio show of the Foundation Trilogy in the public domain.

http://www.archive.org/details/Isaac...ndationTrilogy
Sweet. That looks great.
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Old May 29 2011, 06:24 PM   #59
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Re: Isaac Asimov?

USS Triumphant wrote: View Post
The explanation given, if I recall correctly, was that the original R&D that resulted in positronic brain technology was so extensive and expensive that, once it had been completed with the Three Laws hardwired (not programmed in the sense I think you are thinking of) in a fully integrated way into the design, it would have been too expensive to do it all over again just to remove the Laws.
There's a scene in The Caves of Steel where Baley interviews a Terran roboticist (yes, there was such a thing, even on robotophobic Earth) and he explains that because every roboticist thinks in terms of the Three Laws, it would be almost impossible to design a positronic brain without the Three Laws -- the roboticists simply don't know how to do it otherwise. (He didn't say that it was impossible, just that no one thinks that way, and it could eventually be done, but it would take a long time. I think of Yoda and his advice -- "You must unlearn all the you have learned" -- as the best explanation of the stumbling block.

Roger MacBride Allen in the Caliban trilogy explains that the very nature of the positronic matrix forces the Three Laws and that a stable positronic brain is impossible without the Three Laws, which is why they had to design a gravitronic brain to be free of the Laws.
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Old May 29 2011, 06:37 PM   #60
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Re: Isaac Asimov?

RJDiogenes wrote: View Post
I don't really remember which was which at this point, but stuff like using robots and calling them tiktoks was just thumbing their nose at the conceits of the Foundation universe;
Or the wormhole system instead of the hyperspace jump.

Yes, Benford completely missed the point of Asimov's universe.

and, of course, the explanation for the Human-only galaxy just totally changed the whole character of the series.
Are you talking about the Giskardians' genocidal rampage across the galaxy? I thought that was one of the more perceptive extrapolations in Brin's Foundation's Triumph -- the First Law would mandate that the robots would wipe out anything and everything non-human, so it made a lot of sense that Daneel Olivaw would have built a robotic army to sterilize the galaxy in the name of protecting human life from harm.

I also thought that carried through the characterization of Olivaw from Prelude to Foundation to its logical end -- Olivaw, by the end of Asimov's career, wasn't any sort of heroic or sympathetic character, someone for whom the ends justified the means, as demonstrated by the revelation in Brin's book that Golan Trevize's quest was nothing more than a scam engineered by Olivaw to achieve the outcome he wanted. The subtle thing that Brin does in Foundation's Triumph is to demonstrate that Terminus ultimately triumphs over both Trantor and Gaia/Galaxia -- in a universe with either Trantor or Gaia/Galaxia, why would there ever be a need for the Encyclopedia Galaxia?
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