6 posts tagged with Foundation and SF.
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Book: Foundation and Empire: "The Mule"
In the imaginary science of 'Pataphysics there's the concept of the "clinamen", or "swerve". As method in the arts, it can be roughly paraphrased as: "To create art you must first create a system. Once you have the system, you must introduce an anomaly which brings the system into a state of chaos. Then you have art." To put it bluntly, until writing "The Mule", Asimov's Foundation series was a perfect system, described by the imaginary science of psychohistory. Things were moving predictably to a predicted end. But then there came a swerve, in the form of "The Mule", a warlord not predicted by Hari Seldon. And in the titular character, Asimov created one of the most interesting anti-heroes of early science fiction. [more inside]
Book: Foundation and Empire: "The General"
"The General" is the last of the classic Foundation stories. In it Asimov tackles the central dynamic head on, setting the "living will" of a single human being against the "dead hand" of psychohistory. It should be no surprise, and indeed is no surprise to modern readers, that the long arc of history doesn't bend around brilliant individuals. There are other characters than the titular general, but Bel Riose is the only one that matters. He knows exactly what he's up against, and backs himself to win. He's undoubtedly the purest example of a tragic hero in the series. [more inside]
Book: Foundation: "The Traders"
The next jump forward in the Foundation storyline takes us well into the second century of the 1000 year plan (which, incidentally, was the original name of the the first book). A merchant from the Foundation on a trading mission to a distant planet runs afoul of local laws and customs. Another trader, Linmar Ponyets, is sent to save him. [more inside]
Book: Foundation: "The Mayors"
Compared to the previous story, there's a lot more going on in "The Mayors". While "The Encyclopedists" is a bit bare bones, this story is painted on a much bigger canvas. Political intrigue, deluded mobs and huge warships flying through space all feature. All of this is familiar from space opera, both modern and contemporary to the Foundation series. But in this story, it isn't the most destructive weapon that wins the day, but the soft power of religious authority. [more inside]
Book: Foundation: "The Encyclopedists"
Science fiction fandom was introduced to the Foundation and psychohistory in a 1942 short story called "Foundation". When it was collected in a book, it was renamed "The Encyclopedists". It is the story of a library on a worthless planet on the far edge of a collapsing empire. And it's the story of a small city mayor who rises to the occasion presented to him by history, becoming one of the most beloved heroes of science fiction, Salvor Hardin. [more inside]
The Foundation Trilogy is the space epic's space epic. It follows the history of The Foundation for centuries, from its beginnings as a library on a rinky dink planet on the edge of the Milky Way, to burgeoning galactic empirehood. But before there's a Foundation, there's one guy with a plan, Hari Seldon. [more inside]