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Old May 29 2011, 06:41 PM   #61
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Re: Isaac Asimov?

Allyn Gibson wrote: View Post
in a universe with either Trantor or Gaia/Galaxia, why would there ever be a need for the Encyclopedia Galaxia?
I haven't read the non-Asimov Foundation books, but that thought had occurred to me.

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Old May 29 2011, 08:06 PM   #62
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Re: Isaac Asimov?

Allyn Gibson wrote: View Post
in a universe with either Trantor or Gaia/Galaxia, why would there ever be a need for the Encyclopedia Galaxia?

Heh, you know, very good point. I've always wondered who wrote the Encyclopedia. It struck me as something that was written after-the-fact as some sort of history book; as some sort of warning to others thinking of trying to predict the future. I think it's briefly touched upon in one of the prequels, but I can't remember as it's been so long since I've read them.

Good points about Olivaw too. You in fact just touched upon why I feel the connected universe felt forced and cheapened the whole thing, and it's likely due to the fact that the connected universe came later in his career instead of earlier. I doubt I would have had much of a problem with it if it was there from the beginning. It felt like he was grasping as straws at this point. I really liked Trevize's quest in general, and Olivaw left a sour note in it for me. At the end of reading that, I had the distinct feeling of being highly disappointed, as in, "Is that it? After all that time, that's it? Gotta be kidding me!" It ranks up there with one of my worst disappointments of all times in novels.
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Old May 29 2011, 08:31 PM   #63
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Re: Isaac Asimov?

^^ Really? I thought it worked quite well, since Asimov was so consistent in his vision all along-- unlike, say, Heinlein, who had to invoke multiple universes to tie his work together (not that I disliked that).

Allyn Gibson wrote: View Post
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, exactly. I found it very disrespectful.

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.
Oh, it was a perfectly sensible extrapolation, just entirely inappropriate for the Foundation series. It could have been a very interesting concept to explore in another book or series. But turning Daneel, Asimov's Robots and, by implication, both Foundation and Gaia, into serial genocidal maniacs changes the combined Robot-Foundation series from a fascinating exploration of future history into something horrific beyond belief. Such a holocaust is barely conceivable. This is why they should have followed the Psychohistorical Crisis guy's example and just written a new series.
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Old May 29 2011, 09:50 PM   #64
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Re: Isaac Asimov?

Owain Taggart wrote: View Post
Good points about Olivaw too. You in fact just touched upon why I feel the connected universe felt forced and cheapened the whole thing, and it's likely due to the fact that the connected universe came later in his career instead of earlier. I doubt I would have had much of a problem with it if it was there from the beginning. It felt like he was grasping as straws at this point. I really liked Trevize's quest in general, and Olivaw left a sour note in it for me. At the end of reading that, I had the distinct feeling of being highly disappointed, as in, "Is that it? After all that time, that's it? Gotta be kidding me!" It ranks up there with one of my worst disappointments of all times in novels.
Have you read the io9 pieces on the Foundation series linked earlier in the thread? They make some very good points (namely in the Foundation's Edge review) about why the connections actually work. It really gave me some new perspective on it.
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Old May 29 2011, 09:55 PM   #65
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Re: Isaac Asimov?

I haven't really had a chance to look at it, yet, Dave. I just know that at the time I felt like it had cheapened the whole Foundation series by making it feel insignificant rather than letting the Foundation series shine on its own. It was the implications of the revelation and how it was written, I guess. And was it Foundation's Edge? I could have sworn it was Foundation & Earth that made the big revelation since it was the last one written timeline-wise..
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Old May 29 2011, 09:57 PM   #66
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Re: Isaac Asimov?

^ I strongly recommend them. They're really in-depth, well-reasoned discussions. And, as I said, may give you some new appreciation for how the whole thing came together.
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Old May 30 2011, 12:24 AM   #67
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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.
Oops, Aspergian Jake once again ill-defined his concept when expressing it to others. I meant that I dislike when non-Asimov stories by other authors and totally unrelated to his work act as if the Three Laws are some universal constant.

For instance, in any of the myriad SF media that I've seen this issue (so many that I've really forgotten the specific examples), a robot is obviously on the rampage. One character exclaims that this is impossible, as it violates the Three Laws. Unless your robot's name is Norby, don't be surprised when it kills you.

Same principle holds up for whenever people quote Arthur C. Clarke, but only ever mention that "Science, sufficiently advanced..." you get the picture.
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Old May 30 2011, 12:58 AM   #68
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Re: Isaac Asimov?

JRoss wrote: View Post
I meant that I dislike when non-Asimov stories by other authors and totally unrelated to his work act as if the Three Laws are some universal constant.

For instance, in any of the myriad SF media that I've seen this issue (so many that I've really forgotten the specific examples), a robot is obviously on the rampage. One character exclaims that this is impossible, as it violates the Three Laws.
I think of that as an homage. It's not that they're assuming all robots must be programmed with the Three Laws; it's that they're acknowledging the influence of Asimov's concept by incorporating it into their own work. Same way TNG borrowed the "positronic brain" concept for Data (who, by the way, was not Three Laws compliant).


Same principle holds up for whenever people quote Arthur C. Clarke, but only ever mention that "Science, sufficiently advanced..." you get the picture.
What's the problem there? It's pretty much a self-contained statement, not something being quoted out of context. It's known as Clarke's Third Law, but the other two are pretty obscure, and the three are only very vaguely related (I rather like the first, but the second is kind of nonsensical):

1. When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong.

2. The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible.

3. Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clarke's_three_laws
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Old May 30 2011, 01:00 AM   #69
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Re: Isaac Asimov?

My thing about ACC is that most people only remember him for that one line, when he also gave the world 2001, Childhood's End and more, not to mention being perhaps one of the greatest intellects of the 20th century.
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Old May 30 2011, 01:04 AM   #70
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Re: Isaac Asimov?

JRoss wrote: View Post
My thing about ACC is that most people only remember him for that one line, when he also gave the world 2001, Childhood's End and more, not to mention being perhaps one of the greatest intellects of the 20th century.
Not to mention Profiles of the Future when he talks about his three "laws". It's a fascinating if dated book.
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Old May 30 2011, 02:01 AM   #71
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Re: Isaac Asimov?

JRoss wrote: View Post
My thing about ACC is that most people only remember him for that one line, when he also gave the world 2001, Childhood's End and more, not to mention being perhaps one of the greatest intellects of the 20th century.
And he invented the concept of the communications satellite, so modern society owes him an enormous debt. (Although I suppose someone else would've thought of it soon enough if he hadn't.)

I don't really consider 2001 one of Clarke's greatest works, though. It's just better-known than most because of the Kubrick film. His top two are probably Childhood's End and Rendezvous with Rama, and The Fountains of Paradise is pretty high on the list.
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Old May 30 2011, 02:13 AM   #72
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Re: Isaac Asimov?

And if I remember my introduction to Childhood's End correctly, didn't he come up with the communications satellite as a teenager?

Well, I remember 2001 fondly because it was the coolest thing that I had ever read (I was eight at the time) and I remember thinking how human advancement is still in its infancy, but what potential for growth we have.

I really liked Chilhood's End, too. I just remember feeling lonely after I read it, but not lonely in a bad way.
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Old May 30 2011, 03:17 AM   #73
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Re: Isaac Asimov?

Childhood's End had a big impact on me as a young reader, as did several volumes worth of Arthur C. Clarke stuff - mostly short story volumes (ah, Harry Purvis), although I have a very soft spot for The City and the Stars/Against the Fall of Night, which I had collected together in one volume and read in one fell swoop. ACC is one of a handful of sci-fi novelists who I blind bought, en masse, and by 'handful' I actually pretty much just mean him, H.G. Wells, and when I was a little older, PKD.

Again, short stories are handy here. You want to read Arthur C. Clarke's involvement in 2001? His novelization of the film is fine, but "The Sentinel" - the one Arthur C. Clarke story that most influenced the film - is better.

Clarke's pretty much the only one of the Big Three I really enjoyed as an author. Asimov was mostly only good for me for the puzzles in his Robot stories. What I basically enjoyed about those is, having established his rules, Asimov played with unintended consequences or possible results of those rules. That said, I recall the Foundation trilogy to be pretty turgid. It was Edward Gibbon without the wit or skill, as it were.

I, Robot and the first Foundation book are probably worth at least checking out, regardless, if you're a sci-fi fan.
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Old May 30 2011, 03:35 AM   #74
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Re: Isaac Asimov?

Starting off with Asimov..easiest novel would be "Caves of Steel"...it really is a good intro to his writing style..or for shorter doses, his collection of short stories 'I, Robot".

Just stay away from "Black Friar of the Flame"..easily, his worst story..
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Old May 30 2011, 04:06 AM   #75
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Re: Isaac Asimov?

With Clarke, don't forget Rendezvous With Rama and The Songs of Distant Earth. Great books.
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