Asimov and Science Fact
Posted by Martin C. Fox on November 27, 2016
I have this uppity series of books I want to read. The current one is Illiberal reformers: Race Eugenics and American Economics in the Progressive Era by Thomas Leonard. It promises to be quite good. But after reading this stuff for a while I just can’t stand it anymore. I then retreat to a Louie L’Amour or Luke Short western. Good stuff! But I am yearning for another escape and for me that is science fiction.
Years ago I read Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series. Foundation, Foundation and Empire, Second Foundation. This series was started in 1951. Asimov’s Robot series was started in the early forties.
I am not particularly well read in science fiction but I know what I like. Asimov and Bradbury. A friend has suggested I investigate the River World series. That may be next.
The original Foundation series has been expanded upon both by Asimov and others. You can do a Wiki search for the details. For some reason I have decided to read the entire (Asimov written) Foundation series, then the Robot series.
In a nutshell the Foundation plot revolves around a galactic empire that is deteriorating (deterioration of infrastructure in particular!). The Hari Seldon character has started a chain of events that will shorten the inevitable collapse into barbarity from ten thousand to one thousand years. Seldon is a psychohistorian. A predictor of the future based on mathematics.
As major crises arise over the years, a now dead Seldon appears in recorded holograms to comment on what is occurring without providing enough information to affect the outcome.
Science fiction has a habit of becoming non-fiction. Buck Rogers space flight is becoming reality. Think Dick Tracey’s radio/TV watch.
The master’s work is, somewhat unfortunately, becoming reality.
Look at this from “Prelude to Foundation”:
My Man, you don’t take into account our thoroughness-or advances in technology. We have studied your history, your complete record. When you arrived, you were scanned. Your expression and voiceprints were analyzed. We knew your emotional state in detail; we practically knew your thoughts.
Think-NSA, FBI, CIA, DEA…government.
Credits still go-unproductively-to the armed forces and vital areas of the social goods are allowed to deteriorate.
Think-Neocon domestic/foreign policy.
They work off all their resentments, enjoy all the smug self-satisfaction a young revolutionary would have, and by the time they take their place in the imperial hierarchy, they are ready to settle down into conformity and obedience.
Think-The antiwar movement.
Within each sector, economic and social classes are encouraged to wage a kind of war with each other. The result is that all over Trantor it is impossible for the people to take united action. Everywhere, the people would rather fight each other than make a common stand against the central tyranny and the empire rules without having to exert force.
Survey says-US and Israel’s plan to divide and conquer the Middle East. Or George Soros’ plan to conquer the US.
I am just getting into “Foundation”.
There is a scene where the hero of unarmed planet Terminous has received veiled threats from a neighboring planet’s government wishing to colonize. The comment is ‘they are telling us they have a gun and we don’t.’
This resonates with the war on US civil liberties and the Constitution on so many levels.
What else has the master to offer this 21st century reader? We shall indeed see.
Be seeing you.