Discussion in 'Science Fiction & Fantasy' started by GalaxyClass1701, May 28, 2011.
I haven't read the non-Asimov Foundation books, but that thought had occurred to me.
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.
^^ 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).
Yes, exactly. I found it very disrespectful.
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.
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.
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..
^ 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.
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.
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).
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):
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.
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.
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.
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.
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..
With Clarke, don't forget Rendezvous With Rama and The Songs of Distant Earth. Great books.
I find myself nodding at this. Of the "Big Three," I think that Clarke's is the work that will endure the most, especially for short stories like "The Star" and "The Nine Billion Names of God."
Heinlein, I think, will be largely ignored and forgotten -- a science-fiction Washington Irving, essentially. (In his time, Irving was a major author, he defined the American voice. Outside of "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" and "Rip Van Winkle," no one reads Irving's work today.)
Weird as this sounds, I remember getting hooked on Asimov after reading one of his "About the Author" pages at, I want to say, the end of the first Foundation.
It was intentionally humorous/tongue-in-cheek, but in a good way, with stuff like "Born in [wherever] in XXXX, then quickly moved to correct the situation."
yeah, that is in most of his books. He was, much to his dismay, born in the Soviet Union, and moved quickly to correct the situation."
There other brilliant asides in that thing.
Just a thought, has anyone read any of the Lucky Starr books?
I tend to agree. I think already, Heinlen is clearly seen as the weak link in the Big Three, and whenever I see Stranger In A Strange Land being discussed, it's always tinged with a feeling of "yeah, it was the 60s, you have to forgive him."
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