Isaac Asimov?

Discussion in 'Science Fiction & Fantasy' started by GalaxyClass1701, May 28, 2011.

  1. RJDiogenes

    RJDiogenes Idealistic Cynic and Canon Champion Premium Member

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    Asimov is fantastic; probably my favorite writer after Clarke. I'd recommend all his stuff, but especially the Robot and Foundation combined series. The books that impressed me the least were the Galactic Empire novels.

    His writing style was deliberate. He felt that communicating complex ideas was best done by writing simply and clearly; not the only way to do it, certainly, but it worked for him.

    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.
     
  2. Allyn Gibson

    Allyn Gibson Vice Admiral Admiral

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    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.
     
  3. Holdfast

    Holdfast Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    I love Asimov's work.

    The stories are really more about the story/idea itself than the characters, and nearly all his female characters are even thinner than the men. They're great tales, and I still love that kind of book, so I continue to love re-reading Asimov. If you have a really strong preference for character-driven work, I don't think you'll enjoy Asimov much.
     
  4. Spocktapus

    Spocktapus Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    Asimov is probably my favorite author. His books were the first science fiction literature I'd ever read, and I've now read pretty much all of his SF novels, except The End of Eternity, which is probably the next book I'm going to read. I highly recommend everything he wrote (except possibly The Stars, Like Dust).
     
  5. Owain Taggart

    Owain Taggart Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    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.
     
  6. Terengo

    Terengo Commander Red Shirt

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    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?
     
  7. Admiral2

    Admiral2 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    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.
     
  8. Happy Xmas (War Is Over)

    Happy Xmas (War Is Over) Fleet Admiral Premium Member

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    Burroughs did so with his invention of Jason Gridley and the Gridley Wave which linked the Tarzan, Barsoom, Pellucidar and Amtor series.
     
  9. The Lensman

    The Lensman Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    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.
     
  10. KB24

    KB24 Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    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!
     
  11. The Lensman

    The Lensman Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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  12. Canadave

    Canadave Vice Admiral Admiral

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    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.

    Vonnegut, maybe?
     
  13. Harvey

    Harvey Admiral Admiral

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    Though he tried like crazy to eschew the sf label, no?
     
  14. JRoss

    JRoss Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    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.
     
  15. USS Triumphant

    USS Triumphant Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    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.
     
  16. Aeolusdallas

    Aeolusdallas Captain Captain

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    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.
     
  17. Canadave

    Canadave Vice Admiral Admiral

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    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.
     
  18. RJDiogenes

    RJDiogenes Idealistic Cynic and Canon Champion Premium Member

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    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.

    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.

    Sweet. That looks great.
     
  19. Allyn Gibson

    Allyn Gibson Vice Admiral Admiral

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    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.
     
  20. Allyn Gibson

    Allyn Gibson Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Or the wormhole system instead of the hyperspace jump. :)

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

    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?