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posted by Fnord666 on Sunday November 04 2018, @12:06PM   Printer-friendly
from the two-interesting-books dept.

November: The Three-Body Problem by Liu Cixin.
December: Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson.

A poll for the January 2019 book will be around the 15th, unless you want it sooner (not sooner than the U.S. midterms).

Discuss Foundation by Isaac Asimov in the comments below.

As for Liu Cixin's best known novel:

"Wildly imaginative, really interesting." ―President Barack Obama on The Three-Body Problem trilogy

The English translation for The Three-Body Problem was published in 2014 by Ken Liu under Tor Books.

Consider using <spoiler>text</spoiler> wherever you feel the need to do so.

Previously: Announcement postMars, Ho!


Original Submission

Related Stories

SoylentNews Book Club is Alive 51 comments

Want to read some books? Many of our users have shown interest in having a book club. Now it's finally time to kick it off.

Your soytyrant has pre-selected the first three books so that you have more time to read them, should you choose to do so:

September: Mars, Ho! by Stephen McGrew
October: Foundation by Isaac Asimov
November: The Three-Body Problem by Liu Cixin.

The plan is to read a book, and discuss it on the 1st of the following month. Suggestions for new books (of any genres, not just "science fiction") will also be collected at the same time. You can start listing some of your suggestions right now in this comment section. We'll pick up to eight of them and run a poll on September 15th to decide the book for December. And so on.

The first book is Mars, Ho! by Stephen McGrew, one of our more literary users (not to be confused with Mars Ho! by Jennifer Willis). The book is available for free on McGrew's website, although there are some purchasing options available if you want to support him. From the description:

Captain John Knolls thinks he's just been given the best assignment of his career -- ferrying two hundred prostitutes to Mars. He doesn't know that they're all addicted to a drug that causes them to commit extreme, deadly violence when they are experiencing withdrawal or that he'll face more pirates than anyone had ever seen before. Or that he'd fall in love. A humorous science fiction space novel, a horror story, a love story, a pirate story, a tale of corporate bureaucracy and incompetence.

All book club posts will be in the Community Reviews nexus, which is linked to on the site's sidebar. You'll likely want to click on that link once the posts fall off the main page.


Original Submission

SoylentNews Book Club: October 2018 28 comments

October: Foundation by Isaac Asimov
November: The Three-Body Problem by Liu Cixin.
December: Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson

October's book is Foundation by Isaac Asimov, meaning the collection of 5 short stories first published in 1951. It is the first published entry in the Foundation series.

Please discuss last month's book, Mars, Ho! below if you haven't done so already. You can also suggest books for January 2019. I can include titles that were already suggested, such as in the comments on the poll. We may be able to increase the maximum number of poll options to accommodate more books.

Previously: SoylentNews Book Club is Alive


Original Submission

SoylentNews Book Club: Discuss The Three-Body Problem, Start Reading Snow Crash 23 comments

December: Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson.

The next poll will pick two books. I'd like to do it that way to keep a strong second place contender from being overlooked, and so I don't have to update the poll so often.

Discuss The Three-Body Problem by Liu Cixin in the comments below.

Snow Crash was written by Neal Stephenson in 1992. The novel features a bit of a Calexit scenario, and is known for popularizing the term "avatar" (paving the way for James Cameron's true magnum opus). These days, Neal moonlights as Magic Leap's "Chief Futurist". Seems appropriate.

Previously: Announcement postMars, Ho!Foundation


Original Submission

SoylentNews Book Club - Discuss: Snow Crash, Start Reading: The Moon is a Harsh Mistress 20 comments

February: Fiasco by Stanisław Lem
March: We Are Legion (We Are Bob) (Bobiverse #1) by Dennis Taylor

Discuss Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson in the comments below.

The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress by Robert A. Heinlein was published in 1966:

The book popularized the acronym TANSTAAFL ("There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch"), and helped popularize the constructed language Loglan, which is used in the story for precise human-computer interaction. The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations credits this novel with the first printed appearance of the phrase "There's no free lunch", although the phrase and its abbreviation considerably predate the novel.

The virtual assistant Mycroft is named after a computer system from the novel.

Previously: Announcement postMars, Ho!FoundationThe Three-Body Problem


Original Submission

SoylentNews Book Club - Discuss: The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, Start Reading: Fiasco 75 comments

March: We Are Legion (We Are Bob) (Bobiverse #1) by Dennis Taylor

Discuss The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress by Robert A. Heinlein in the comments below.

Fiasco was translated into English in 1988 by Michael Kandel:

Fiasco (Polish: Fiasko) is a science fiction novel by Polish author Stanisław Lem, first published in a German translation in 1986. The book, published in Poland the following year, is a further elaboration of Lem's skepticism: in Lem's opinion, the difficulty in communication with alien civilizations is cultural disparity rather than spatial distance. The failure to communicate with an alien civilization is the main theme of the book.

Previously: Announcement postMars, Ho!FoundationThe Three-Body ProblemSnow Crash


Original Submission

SoylentNews Book Club - Discuss: Fiasco, Start Reading: We Are Legion (We Are Bob) 17 comments

Discuss Fiasco by Stanisław Lem in the comments below. If you have any book suggestions for the upcoming poll, feel free to add those.

We Are Legion (We Are Bob) is the first book of the "Bobiverse" series by Dennis E. Taylor:

Dennis E. Taylor is a Canadian novelist and former computer programmer known for his large scale hard science fiction stories exploring the interaction between artificial intelligence and the human condition.

While working at his day job as a computer programmer, Taylor self published his first novel and began working with an agent to try and publish his second novel We Are Legion. However Taylor still had difficultly getting any publishing house to take on his work, eventually publishing it through his agent's in-house publishing arm. An audiobook rights deal with Audible was also reached and once recorded, We Are Legion became one of the most popular audiobooks on the service and was awarded Best Science Fiction Audiobook of the year.

[...] In October 2018 Taylor was added to the X-Prize Foundation Science Fiction Advisory Council as a "Visionary Storyteller". This group of accomplished science fiction authors help advise the X-Prize team on envisioning the future.

Previously: Announcement postMars, Ho!FoundationThe Three-Body ProblemSnow CrashThe Moon is a Harsh Mistress


Original Submission

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(1)
  • (Score: 5, Interesting) by takyon on Sunday November 04 2018, @12:23PM (2 children)

    by takyon (881) <takyonNO@SPAMsoylentnews.org> on Sunday November 04 2018, @12:23PM (#757582) Journal
    • (Score: 0, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 04 2018, @12:48PM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 04 2018, @12:48PM (#757584)

      Consider using

      text

      wherever you feel the need to do so.


      Wherever I feel the need?
      • (Score: 1, Offtopic) by takyon on Sunday November 04 2018, @01:26PM

        by takyon (881) <takyonNO@SPAMsoylentnews.org> on Sunday November 04 2018, @01:26PM (#757595) Journal

        CONSIDER ALL CAPS

        CAP'N CRUNCH IS A PRODUCT LINE OF CORN AND OAT BREAKFAST CEREALS INTRODUCED IN 1963 AND MANUFACTURED BY QUAKER OATS COMPANY, A DIVISION OF PEPSICO SINCE 2001. CAP'N CRUNCH WAS DEVELOPED TO RECALL A RECIPE OF BROWN SUGAR AND BUTTER OVER RICE, REQUIRING INNOVATION OF A SPECIAL BAKING PROCESS—AS THE CEREAL WAS ONE OF THE FIRST TO USE AN OIL COATING FOR FLAVOR DELIVERY.
        --
        [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 [soylentnews.org]
  • (Score: 3, Funny) by Gaaark on Sunday November 04 2018, @01:59PM

    by Gaaark (41) Subscriber Badge on Sunday November 04 2018, @01:59PM (#757605) Journal

    It's been almost 40 years since I read the Foundation series.

    Yikes.

    --
    --- Please remind me if I haven't been civil to you: I'm channeling MDC. ---Gaaark 2.0 ---
  • (Score: 2, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 04 2018, @02:36PM (5 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 04 2018, @02:36PM (#757615)

    I like the old-fashioned technology. As an example, the first part of the second book talks about unbreakable message capsules that carry secret messages. The empire has pretty good ones, but the foundation's capsules are better, and the foundation can break into the empire's. Anyone breaking into a foundation secret message would find the message immediately oxidized. This completely fails to predict cryptography, and the idea that in the future, everything would be done with a single general purpose computer.

    There are other examples of highly specific mechanical devices, like a transcriber pen instead of voice recognition software. They happen in nearly every chapter.

    To me, this is a big part of the draw of old science fiction. Before transistors were readily available, most science fiction looks like this. I guess they didn't know what things would be in the future, so they just wrote it like magic. Maybe it should be considered part fantasy. I'm definitely going to read more old science fiction.

    • (Score: 2) by PartTimeZombie on Sunday November 04 2018, @08:24PM (2 children)

      by PartTimeZombie (4827) on Sunday November 04 2018, @08:24PM (#757713)

      I re-read Foundation last year, after 40-ish years, and was struck by how much the characters smoked. How times change.

    • (Score: 2) by legont on Monday November 05 2018, @12:03AM (1 child)

      by legont (4179) on Monday November 05 2018, @12:03AM (#757786)

      I actually believe that once the technology matures, we will have dedicated physical devices again. For example, I already know people in Europe carrying 3 phones - regular, car gps, and payment device. I myself will be there very soon. Oh, forgot, I have a dedicated mp3 to listen for books. So, 4 devices with me all the time. Wait, secure id, smart watch.

      This will continue.

      --
      "Wealth is the relentless enemy of understanding" - John Kenneth Galbraith.
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 05 2018, @02:01AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 05 2018, @02:01AM (#757810)

        You forgot the drug dealer burner phone!

  • (Score: 1) by Sulla on Sunday November 04 2018, @02:37PM

    by Sulla (5173) on Sunday November 04 2018, @02:37PM (#757616) Journal

    Well I forgot the due date so I haven't done the assignment yet. A week or so ago I was walking to work and trying to remember what it was we were reading, totally forgot it was foundation. I have read it in the recent past though.. Sparknotes it is!

    --
    Ceterum censeo Sinae esse delendam
  • (Score: 5, Interesting) by jelizondo on Sunday November 04 2018, @03:38PM (4 children)

    by jelizondo (653) Subscriber Badge on Sunday November 04 2018, @03:38PM (#757638) Journal

    In my mind, reading Asimov is like listening to the old Frank Sinatra records: full of optimism and a can do attitude. Maybe the end of WWII and the many technological advances of the 50s had something to do with that feeling.

    There was a sense of wonder and the thrill of the future in the stories of that period, quite contrary to our current pessimistic, dark and nihilistic view of the future.

    Of course, there is no denying that our present is perceived as more dangerous, corrupt and uncertain but one would think that such concerns would inspire people to overcome the difficulties and not to slide into a dark dystopia.

    As a matter of fact, world-wide, there are less poor people (as a percentage of population), more education and we have access to devices (i.e. cell phones and computers) that were dreams in the 50s, why are we so pessimistic in our stories?

    • (Score: 2, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 04 2018, @05:40PM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 04 2018, @05:40PM (#757676)
      We are pessimist today because of fear of the coming great social change, the new Industrial revolution, which will make 90% of humans unnecessary, poor and cast away - which may result in local wars to change the financial system. We are afraid of the new global resource war. We are afraid that one of those wars will destroy us all. Space? No, it's too expensive to live on other planets, and outside of science there is little to do currently.
      • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Sunday November 04 2018, @11:09PM

        by c0lo (156) on Sunday November 04 2018, @11:09PM (#757772) Journal

        the new Industrial revolution, which will make 90% of humans unnecessary

        Is economy the purpose of humanity?
        The perspective seems to matter when assessing the necessity on humans.

        --
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0
    • (Score: 2) by Immerman on Sunday November 04 2018, @10:01PM (1 child)

      by Immerman (3985) on Sunday November 04 2018, @10:01PM (#757741)

      It might also have something to do with the fact that there was much to be objectively optimistic *about* - in addition to the war being over, in 1950 ~77% of people were better off than their parents, while by 1984 we were down to 50% and falling. Social mobility has died, and today the majority of people can expect to be less well off than their parents, despite the fact that the per-capita GDP has continued to grow.

      When the neo-nobility claims new wealth faster than it's generated, the majority of the population has good reason to be pessimistic. Project forward from today's trends, and a corporate-owned dystopia is pretty much what we can expect. That was very much not the case in the 50s

      • (Score: 2) by bzipitidoo on Monday November 05 2018, @02:05AM

        by bzipitidoo (4388) Subscriber Badge on Monday November 05 2018, @02:05AM (#757811) Journal

        Do you not know that Foundation is a loosely reskinned history of Europe from the last days of the Roman Empire through the Dark Ages and on? The Galactic Empire is Rome. The Foundation adopts the strategies of the Medieval church, then shifts to become like merchant powers such as Venice, and so on.

        The Dark Ages was definitely not a time of optimism.

  • (Score: 4, Insightful) by legont on Sunday November 04 2018, @04:18PM (7 children)

    by legont (4179) on Sunday November 04 2018, @04:18PM (#757648)

    Please feel free to moderate to nonexistence if I violated the rules...
    I am in the middle of it, but almost quit in the beginning - don't - keep reading.

    What I did not like was that the author "chews" through his concepts in so much detail that it felt he treats readers as idiots. I was wrong. As book progressed, that chewing became more and more necessary for understanding. I also suspect that this is perhaps how Chinese teach their children - everything taught has to be really well understood.

    Anyway, that is my little encouragement; sorry if it was not appropriate.

    --
    "Wealth is the relentless enemy of understanding" - John Kenneth Galbraith.
    • (Score: 1) by Sulla on Sunday November 04 2018, @04:55PM (4 children)

      by Sulla (5173) on Sunday November 04 2018, @04:55PM (#757660) Journal

      I think thats just Asimov. I have always liked him but he is very much a professor and you get that from reading. If you are interested in Asimov's style I would suggest what I consider to be one of his best works.

      The last question by Asimov (as read by Nimoy), 36 min long
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8XOtx4sa9k4 [youtube.com]

      --
      Ceterum censeo Sinae esse delendam
      • (Score: 2) by takyon on Sunday November 04 2018, @05:21PM

        by takyon (881) <takyonNO@SPAMsoylentnews.org> on Sunday November 04 2018, @05:21PM (#757668) Journal

        Wrong author, there. Read comment again.

        --
        [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 [soylentnews.org]
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 04 2018, @05:23PM (2 children)

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 04 2018, @05:23PM (#757669)

        You think Liu Cixin is Asimov?

        • (Score: 3, Touché) by linkdude64 on Sunday November 04 2018, @06:23PM

          by linkdude64 (5482) Subscriber Badge on Sunday November 04 2018, @06:23PM (#757689)

          Spoiler Alert:

          You haven't read that far in the book yet - that's the twist

        • (Score: 1) by Sulla on Sunday November 04 2018, @08:44PM

          by Sulla (5173) on Sunday November 04 2018, @08:44PM (#757723) Journal

          I did not read the title of the original post, that said my comment statement still stands about Asimov although it now makes sense why OP was talking about Chinese education.

          --
          Ceterum censeo Sinae esse delendam
    • (Score: 1) by tftp on Sunday November 04 2018, @05:30PM

      by tftp (806) on Sunday November 04 2018, @05:30PM (#757672) Homepage
      Yes, it is very different from modern action-packed books and movies. Slow flow, poetical sometimes.
    • (Score: 2) by ilPapa on Sunday November 04 2018, @09:41PM

      by ilPapa (2366) on Sunday November 04 2018, @09:41PM (#757732) Journal

      Three-Body Problem is very very good, but it's a little sticky at the start. Seems like a lot of the very best books ever are like that.

      --
      You are still welcome on my lawn.
  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 04 2018, @07:49PM (2 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 04 2018, @07:49PM (#757708)

    I haven't yet read a page but a week ago or so I promptly marched into my local university library and loaned Foundation, even had to pay 1 euro for the privilege of having them dig the English edition from the library storage for me. But I believe I will read it soon! I remember loving to read.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 04 2018, @10:03PM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 04 2018, @10:03PM (#757742)

      Why would you pay extra to read a translation?

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 05 2018, @05:45AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 05 2018, @05:45AM (#757862)

        I paid to not have to read a translation.

  • (Score: 1) by pD-brane on Sunday November 04 2018, @08:26PM

    by pD-brane (6728) on Sunday November 04 2018, @08:26PM (#757716)

    I started reading the book more than a month ago, but stopped, at around 3/4 of the book. Ten days or so later I picked it up again, but I couldn't completely remember the story line, and decided to restart halfway or so, where I still understood the story. As of yet, I haven't reached the 3/4 again.

    It is a great story about big politics. Part I about the psycho-historians is intriguing—the idea that a combination of psychology, history and statistics (big numbers) would result in an actual science may be preposterous, but the way Asimov uses this essential element is more than bearable, even (or especially) for scientists. Part II about the encyclopedists is also fun—exciting twist in the story (though possibly other readers saw this coming—I don't read a lot of science fiction).

    From part III onward it slowly starts to become more difficult to follow for me. That may be because I don't always find the patience and time to read fiction, but I'm sure I wouldn't get through Gibbon's History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire either—politics get interesting when there are large-scale changes (like the collapse of an empire), but it is also very complicated!

  • (Score: 2) by Ayn Anonymous on Sunday November 04 2018, @08:54PM

    by Ayn Anonymous (5012) on Sunday November 04 2018, @08:54PM (#757724)
  • (Score: 2) by archfeld on Sunday November 04 2018, @08:59PM

    by archfeld (4650) <treboreel@live.com> on Sunday November 04 2018, @08:59PM (#757727) Journal

    Hari Seldon lives. I read the Foundation books when in college a looong time ago. Going to have to get new copies and reread them to actually contribute meaningfully. I remember so many of the basic concepts but so little of the details.

    --
    For the NSA : Explosives, guns, assassination, conspiracy, primers, detonators, initiators, main charge, nuclear charge
  • (Score: 2) by MostCynical on Sunday November 04 2018, @09:25PM

    by MostCynical (2589) on Sunday November 04 2018, @09:25PM (#757730) Journal

    even with the slightly florid and old-fashioned prose, what amazes me with Foundation is the scale and scope of the story that Asimov had in his head, before he wrote any of it.

    The amount of time and the societal changes he imagines are so much larger than many (most?) other writers.

    You cna forgive the smoking and the computer-equivalent weirdnesses.

    --
    "I guess once you start doubting, there's no end to it." -Batou, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex
  • (Score: 2) by ilPapa on Sunday November 04 2018, @09:47PM

    by ilPapa (2366) on Sunday November 04 2018, @09:47PM (#757734) Journal

    I thought the Foundation Trilogy was some of the most over-rated sci-fi in history. I like other works by Asimov, but not that one.

    --
    You are still welcome on my lawn.
  • (Score: 1) by splenolymph on Sunday November 04 2018, @10:26PM

    by splenolymph (5495) on Sunday November 04 2018, @10:26PM (#757751)

    I thoroughly enjoyed both books. 3 Body Problem is an interesting view into Chinese SCI-FI aesthetic - and eyes of people working in Communist-party science projects..

    If any of you would like an audiobook experience that really is different from the norm, the BBC radio-play production of the Foundation series, with all the electronic (pre-synth.. proto-synth?) effects from the BBC stereophonic workshop, beautiful RP british accents, the likes of which are an endangered species now..

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PcnHc0PD2Rw&list=OLAK5uy_lLj21x3SzmOvmdDPvvMavJPBfXy-c_RwE [youtube.com]

  • (Score: 4, Interesting) by rleigh on Sunday November 04 2018, @10:34PM (1 child)

    by rleigh (4887) on Sunday November 04 2018, @10:34PM (#757755) Homepage

    Foundation is one of my favourite books (and series). I just finished re-reading the whole collection a few weeks back. What sets Foundation apart from other science fiction is the sheer scale and ambition of the author. Describing societal and technological change across hundreds of years within an entire galaxy. On my first reading, ~25 years back, I found it a bit jarring. There is a change of protagonist for each phase of development of the Foundation, with earlier characters referred to as historical figures in later parts. It's clear that this is a collection of short stories assembled into a book, but it works really well. Much better than the later books, Foundation's Edge and Foundation and Earth in particular, which are particularly and unnecessarily long and overly repetitive. They could have used some editing to keep them as fast paced and focussed as the originals; they really start to drag, despite the underlying story being interesting.

    While intended to be futuristic, much of the technology in the book, as well as the habits and attitudes of the characters, seem quaintly old-fashioned through modern eyes. However, this is no fault of the author. The writing is a product of its time, and he can't be criticised for failing to foresee dramatic technological progress several decades after they were written. The technology is fortunately only a means to an end, to provide a setting for the real story, and so for the most part does not overly detract.

    Where I personally feel the books come into their own is their characterisation of humanity, and the decline of civilisation, which has many parallels with our own society in the present day. While all humans individually have agency and free will, as a mass our group behaviour is theorised to be predictable through the mathematical science of "psychohistory". The subtext is that our perception of free will is less than we perceive. We are greatly influenced by the society we inhabit and our ability to effect change as an individual is microscopic; this is best illustrated by the actions and fate of the Imperial General, Bel Riose, as well as his counterpart on Siwenna, Ducem Barr, both of whom are individually powerless to act against fate despite their bold actions. This is perhaps more true today than ever, with mass surveillance and machine learning able to predict individual desires, behaviour and action with ever increasing accuracy; though Asimov did not himself describe mass surveillance on this scale for psychohistory to function, he did have the Second Foundation to monitor society and to correct undesirable changes so as to keep the progress of society on track.

    The prequels Prelude to Foundation and Forward the Foundation cover a single period in time in more detail: the life of Hari Seldon on Trantor itself. The overall picture described is one of unrelenting decay, with the fabric of the highly technological world-city decaying around him, with him being powerless to stop it despite being First Minister. We also see that the technological decay is accompanied by decay in the moral fabric of society as well, with there being an increase in a lack of respect for the environment and other citizens, as the city becomes increasingly dirty, violent and unmanageable, up to the point society eventually collapses entirely and the planet is sacked and left in ruin. There's a clear parellel here to the modern day decline of Western industrial society; though I doubt Asimov intended this at the original time of writing, it nevertheless resonated quite deeply with me as I see the same declines in our own cities. While we might individually have the motivation and skills to turn things around, if the forces at work in society act to prevent us doing this we can feel crushed and powerless. If only we had a Seldon to see us through to the other side.

    • (Score: 2) by Murdoc on Monday November 05 2018, @01:25AM

      by Murdoc (2518) on Monday November 05 2018, @01:25AM (#757806) Homepage

      I feel pretty much the same as you about the book(s); I love how the story is about grand forces of combined humanity shaping the future and yet it is still told on the personal level with individuals playing their parts, often with little or no knowledge of these forces. The stories are also often as gripping as any other, with imminent danger and time pressures (like the "Seldon Crises") so it's not just a heady, cerebral accounting of people talking about big ideas. I also just love stories about really smart people doing really smart things. Some of the solutions devised by the protagonists are just brilliant. Prelude and especially Forward the Foundation are my favorites, showing the development of psychohistory from the guy who didn't even think that it could be done. The original Foundation book comes next, and yeah, Foundation and Earth last.

      There's a clear parellel here to the modern day decline of Western industrial society; though I doubt Asimov intended this at the original time of writing, it nevertheless resonated quite deeply with me as I see the same declines in our own cities. While we might individually have the motivation and skills to turn things around, if the forces at work in society act to prevent us doing this we can feel crushed and powerless. If only we had a Seldon to see us through to the other side.

      Maybe there was. I noticed that parallel as well, and if I recall correctly Seldon wasn't well known outside of certain circles, so I think that perhaps Howard Scott might be the closest we've had to a real Hari Seldon. He formed a group of scientists to study the future of human society, and while their science may not have been as sophisticated as psychohistory, they did accurately predict the Great Depression to within an accuracy of 6 months (their projection was for the autumn of 1932, instead of the spring of 1933). Of course, no one listened to them either. And knowing what was the cause of the collapse, they were able to devise a solution to it, which they called Technocracy [technocracy.ca] (although nothing like we know the term as used today). So they both found the solution to society's problems in science. I also find it amusing that they both have the same initials (H.S.).

  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by RedBear on Monday November 05 2018, @12:53AM (1 child)

    by RedBear (1734) Subscriber Badge on Monday November 05 2018, @12:53AM (#757800)

    I just finished listening to most of the Robots/Elijah Baley, Empire and Foundation series in unabridged audiobook form. They remain epic and amazing works of science fiction, but about 25 years have passed since I originally read them all in book form. I have to say I ended up having a different perspective on the stories after all this time.

    For one thing, I think it's just about the worst series to try and base a TV show on. If you think about it, there is virtually no direct action in the entire series, whether you're talking about The Complete Robot or Foundation & Earth, or any of the stories in between.

    Sure, a lot of things _happen_ in the universe described in the novels. But very little of it happens directly to any of the main characters, or even during the actual time period of the novel. Big things happen "just offscreen", or in the past, or in between the novels, or are briefly described as having happened somewhere else in the galaxy. Something like 90% of every novel is just narration about a character's thinking or two or three people sitting somewhere quietly having a very lengthy conversation. And of course most of it consists of conversations and thoughts involving deductive logic, often rehashing and re-discussing things that were already previously discussed earlier in the story. Asimov was very much enamored with his deductive logic, and it shows in all his writing. It's great stuff, but visually interesting? I think not. Not with an unworkable amount of narration or exposition, or abridgment of all the most interesting aspects of the stories.

    Unfortunately, I don't see any way for someone to write a TV series based on Foundation or any other Asimov series without mangling it to the point where it will be unrecognizable, and all the mind-expanding and thought-provoking charm of the originals will be lost. I'm not looking forward to Apple's attempt at an adaptation.

    --
    ¯\_ʕ◔.◔ʔ_/¯ LOL. I dunno. I'm just a bear.
    ... Peace out. Got bear stuff to do. 彡ʕ⌐■.■ʔ
    • (Score: 2) by PiMuNu on Monday November 05 2018, @04:56PM

      by PiMuNu (3823) on Monday November 05 2018, @04:56PM (#758054)

      Cmon, just throw in a droid army and some epic space battles. How hard can it be?

  • (Score: 2) by coolgopher on Monday November 05 2018, @01:16AM

    by coolgopher (1157) Subscriber Badge on Monday November 05 2018, @01:16AM (#757804)

    I'd love to see some discussion on Greg Egan's "Permutation City" [goodreads.com].

  • (Score: 2) by insanumingenium on Monday November 05 2018, @06:04PM

    by insanumingenium (4824) on Monday November 05 2018, @06:04PM (#758088) Journal

    The first time I read the Foundation series (probably about 15 years ago) it blew my mind, I just couldn't put it down.

    I recently (early this year) reread the first book, and found it hard to finish, just zero intrigue or interest at all.

    Obviously the book didn't change, I did, and I wonder what I will think of it in 15 more years. Other Asimov stories have not failed me, and unfortunately I don't have a clear idea of why Foundation did.

    I have had plenty of books that I appreciate more with time, but this has to be my first book (outside of the children's/YA section) that I have ever thought less of later in life.

  • (Score: 2) by Runaway1956 on Tuesday November 06 2018, @05:09PM

    by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday November 06 2018, @05:09PM (#758582) Homepage Journal

    My sophomore year in high school saw some pretty drastic life changes. Granddaddy died, for starters, and I, being the only grandchild mature enough to act responsibly, was sent to live with Grandma. Which was cool - that ultimately delayed some other important life changes. Not to mention, I loved my grandparents, and was quite happy to be Grandma's gopher.

    Anyway - Grandma was also the only family member who understood my love of reading. She asked one day what I was reading, and I showed her some pulp fiction magazine. She asked what I wanted to read next, and I mentioned Asimov and Foundation. Soon after, I had not just Foundation, but the entire trilogy, in hard bound editions. Nice!

    Nice, but intimidating. How many pages is that? The BIBLE isn't any bigger! Holy CRAP!

    I dove into it. The beginning was dry, and tough for a sophomore to absorb. But, the further I got, the more interesting it became. Soon enough, those pages just went flip, flip, flip. I can't remember how long it took to finish the first book, now. Weeks, anyway. I laid that first book aside, eyeballed the next one, and felt intimidated again. What with chores, gophering for Grandma, school, it literally took weeks to read the first volume. I actually put off starting that second book for at least a couple weeks. And, again, I didn't fall directly into the story - it took a few chapters before I became immersed in the book. Then, again, the pages flipped as fast as I could flip them! Took a little less time to finish the second book, than the first. And, then I dove into the third. No delays, I put book two aside one evening, and the next evening, I picked up book three. I was HOOKED, I tell you!

    If I may quote MostCynical's post:

    what amazes me with Foundation is the scale and scope of the story that Asimov had in his head

    That scale, and that scope, floored me. I had not seen such a thing before. I was the nerd who picked up a paperback novel, and left undisturbed, could read it in a single day. Not Foundation! This story kept me entertained, and occupied my mind for two months or more. I'll never know how quickly I could have read it, if I could have spent all the time I wanted with it. But, as things were, I could read some, be called away, and think about the story until I got back to it. That was annoying at the time, but in retrospect, it was a luxury. That huge scale, and scope, were made to last, and last, and last. It was always waiting for me, when ever I could get back to it.

    The only other story that has ever matched that experience, was Tolkein's Middle Earth stories, including the Silmarillion.

    I've re-read the trilogy since my high school days. But, even re-reading the story can't match that first experience. Asimov and Tolkein each contributed unique experiences to my life. For that reason, if for no other, I am a fan of both men.

    As bzipitidoo posted:

    Do you not know that Foundation is a loosely reskinned history of Europe from the last days of the Roman Empire through the Dark Ages and on?

    I was very much aware of that fact while reading the trilogy. In fact, it altered my impatience with history, and history teachers. Prior to reading the Foundation, I seldom found any reason to even be interested in the lessons.

    Sorry, that's not really a "book review". But, I wanted to share my love of the book, and my love of Asimov's story telling in general. Isaac had few peers, and I'm sure that all of you can agree with that!

    Let me throw in a bonus!
    https://www.military.com/undertheradar/2018/11/05/how-giants-science-fiction-helped-americas-world-war-ii-effort.html [military.com]

    --
    Don’t confuse the news with the truth.
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