Foundation: Preparing to Live   Books Included 
September 26, 2021 9:16 AM - Season 1, Episode 2 - Subscribe

The Foundation makes the long journey to Terminus as Gaal and Raych grow closer. The Empire faces a difficult decision.

Although episodes 1 and 2 dropped together, this post is specifically for discussion of episode 2, 'Preparing to Live'.
posted by Major Clanger (17 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I'm not entirely sure what the point of having the Foundation exiles/colonists consigned to a slowboat* rather than the instantaneous jump that otherwise seems available. We saw Gaal travel on a jumpship to get to Trantor, so they are presumably the usual method of spaceflight, and the Empire's warships looked to have the same design elements (intermeshing rotors, rather like the device from the film version of Contact and presumably jumped quickly to Anacreon and Thespis. So why make the first Foundationers take five years to get there?

I suppose one rationalisation is that jump ships have little capacity for cargo, and so bulk material transport is by slower ship; if you're going to have to take five years to get the supplies and equipment for a new colony to Terminus then there's little point in getting the Foundationers there earlier.

*'Slow' still travels fifty thousand light years in five years. That's ten thousand times the speed of light, or somewhere north of Warp 9.99 on the modified Okuda scale.
posted by Major Clanger at 12:29 PM on September 26, 2021 [2 favorites]

I know I have read the books but have almost no memory of them, but I wonder if the travel by slow boat is related to Gaal’s experience in her jump, where she woke up mid-transit.

But I interpreted more as a way to take the Foundation off the board for their transit time. It buys the Empire five years of them just being in-transit instead of accomplishing things.
posted by jimw at 3:47 PM on September 26, 2021 [2 favorites]

There was no fast and slow ships in the books, hyperspace jumps were uniformly instantaneous, though of limited range. The point of the slow ship in the show is presumably that it puts Seldon and his followers out of communication with the rest of the galaxy for the duration, silencing the dissidents without appearing too tyrannical.

Gaal’s experience and Jerril’s talk about the jump in the first episode seems to be drawing more on a short story in I, Robot, where the hyperspace jump is so traumatic (kind of like a bad ayahuasca trip with a bit of Dante’s Inferno) that the AI that invented faster than light propulsion has a nervous breakdown.

Speaking of robots, that both is and isn’t a change from the novels. In the imperial age, no one even knows what a robot (in the Asimovian sense, a self-aware android like Star Trek’s Data or Demerzel here, bound by the three laws of robotics etc…) is, originally because Asimov hadn’t thought of robots yet, and later because the ancestors of people who would found the empire chose to reject them.
posted by rodlymight at 6:47 PM on September 26, 2021

After the second fake out about being on Terminus, it was obvious that Gaal was not going to make it to Terminus. This episode feels like they somehow painted themselves into a corner, where they both wanted to send Gaal off to orbit a black hole (or however she will jump to the future) but also show something of the early colony on Terminus with her there.

Apparently the robot woman is R. Daneel Olivaw, or so I hear fans speculating. I do not remember reading whatever late-Foundation novel Asimov tied the Caves of Steel into this universe. Tie-ins, ugh. They seem to be going all in on a few characters who somehow last throughough the series.
posted by joeyh at 9:17 PM on September 26, 2021

Apparently the robot woman is R. Daneel Olivaw, or so I hear fans speculating. I do not remember reading whatever late-Foundation novel Asimov tied the Caves of Steel into this universe.

That would be Prelude to Foundation. I was surprised that they included Demerzel/Olivaw, but I suppose I shouldn't have been. Why not set yourself up for a Caves of Steel etc. spinoff prequel?
posted by mumkin at 11:24 PM on September 26, 2021 [1 favorite]

The creators have mentioned that the monopoly on jump capable ships is what gives the Empire its strength; the ‘slow’ boat is going 0.5c so I suspect they were dropped off at a star near the Terminus system and this is the most effective way to strand them there.
posted by andrewdoull at 5:24 AM on September 27, 2021

Doesn't the slowship also mean that they can't just jump back whenever they want? I understood that to be the reason -- exile doesn't mean a lot if you can insta-warp back home.
posted by lazaruslong at 1:53 PM on September 27, 2021 [5 favorites]

I was so worried about this show. I read all the books as a teenager multiple times. They filled a specifically shaped hole in my brain and I loved them. That, however, was many decades ago, and I think a faithful facsimile of those very old books would have been awful. Give me a beautiful, sweeping, rotten empire; give me a rich and varied galaxy populated with diverse cultures, give me secret robots and plots within plots and the vast sweep of time and you can do what you want with the specifics as long as it's a good story. I'm not sure if they'll pull it off in the long run but after two episodes I am less worried than I was before.
posted by patrick rhett at 9:28 AM on September 28, 2021 [8 favorites]

Having no familiarity with Asimov's works, I thought it weird that they spend all this screen time on Gaal only to fridge her at the end of episode 2. Hopefully episode 3 will answer the questions I have like: where is that escape pod going, and what is its effective range?
How will the apparently sloppy murder cover-up bode for Raych? What is the justice system like on the ship? Surely Raych will have a trial.. I wonder what space court is like?
posted by some loser at 9:12 PM on October 1, 2021

Having no familiarity with Asimov's works

Almost none of this stuff happens in the books. Gaal Dornick gets off a spaceship and immediately becomes an excuse for Seldon to explain everything. His only characterization is that he is a country bumpkin who's lost on Trantor. As soon as Seldon accepts exile, it's suddenly 50 years later and Gaal Dornick has been thrown away never to be seen again.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 4:57 AM on October 2, 2021 [2 favorites]

I love all the gender swaps here. Like many I read these last twenty years ago. Demerzel is Daneel in the books, seems confirmed here. Very early reveal of something that I remember being mind blowing at the time I read… whatever installment that was.

This is good! Humanizes the characters which was obviously what was lacking in Asimov. Hints at Asimov’s worldbuilding without being too dense. Good adaptation so far IMO.
posted by supercres at 10:35 PM on October 4, 2021 [2 favorites]

Murdering your mentor and yeeting your girlfriend into deep space does not seem like the planning of people who can predict the future.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 4:38 AM on October 11, 2021 [1 favorite]

In episode 1 the emperor tells them he won't allow them to use jump ships. The basic resolution is I was going to kill you but with all this messiness I'm concerned that would martyr you and bring about my downfall, so instead I'll exile you to the edge of the galaxy but I'll make you take 50 years to get there, so you won't be any threat to me as either a martyr or somebody undermining my authority.

Did I miss why Seldon gets murdered? Was it just because he wasn't as far along with physchohistory as he'd let on and Raych felt betrayed or was there more to it than that I missed?
posted by willnot at 3:56 PM on October 12, 2021

Did I miss why Seldon gets murdered?

At present, it is a mystery.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 4:17 PM on October 12, 2021

Did I miss why Seldon gets murdered? Was it just because he wasn't as far along with physchohistory as he'd let on and Raych felt betrayed or was there more to it than that I missed?

Having not read the books or any future episodes, and starting to binge this series today, my hopefully non-spoilery thoughts:

Seldon says he didn't expect to make the journey himself; presumably he thought that the court would kill him and have someone else run the Foundation. Perhaps one of the holes in his psychohistory forecast was his own unexpected survival, and he asked Raych to correct the 'mistake.'

Side note: It's a little contradictory that psychohistory relies on treating people like an ideal gas -- impossible to predict motion at an individual level, but with enough particles the system as a whole becomes predictable, but so far everyone is focused on controlling the result through the actions of a just handful of people: Hari Seldon, Emperor Cleon, and perhaps Gaal (who was just yeeted into an asteroid belt while theoretically travelling at near light speeds).
posted by pwnguin at 11:01 AM on November 15, 2021 [3 favorites]

perhaps Gaal (who was just yeeted into an asteroid belt while theoretically travelling at near light speeds).

Trantor supposedly sits at the centre of the galaxy, and Terminus is at the edge. That would have to be about 50K light years (per NASA's view that the galaxy is 100K light years across) . So the 'slow ship', which took 5 years to make the journey, had to be travelling at 10,000 times the speed of light.

It's the ultimate yeet.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 8:03 PM on November 17, 2021

Slow ship/ jump ship - I don't recall well, but wasn't Foundation supposed to be "hidden" somewhat?

Could jump ships be physically traced by their propulsion method with physics, or traced through more robust records through historical analysis? versus a slow ship might get lost in records (and maybe make an unrecorded 'jink to the left') and so make the ultimate destination harder to find for any potential antagonists?


While I like the CG (those mechanical hoods), it's unsatisfying. Also, the (clothing) fashion. I dig the emperor's midrift-baring breastplate though. Also, hairstyles.

The weakness is the original premise (14k terrestrial years), which is also kind of necessary to make psychohistory semi-plausible.
posted by porpoise at 9:21 PM on December 1, 2021

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