Friday, April 3, 2015

Good Story 104: Foundation

Julie and Scott join a group of enthusiastic scholars that will soon head to beautiful Terminus to write an Encyclopedia. They hope to be back in time for the next podcast. Episode 104, Foundation by Isaac Asimov.

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  • A catalogue of Asimov's books.

  • Other books mentioned:


    1. Never trust a psychohistorian with a Sorcerer's Apprentice-themed security blanket.

    2. You both also seem to scratch me where I itch. Again a very interesting reflections and diversions. No doubt you did not plot out talking about Foundation, Romano Guardini, Arthur C. Clark, etc. Still I enjoy the unscripted aspect.

      I no doubt have mentioned before Asimov was my first real love of an author. My father's library contained plenty of anthologies of SF short stories so this in part led me to this. Of his novels, I believe it was Foundation I read first and that totally grabbed me. I reread them all along with the robot books about a decade ago and still found them quite enjoyable. Foundation, originally four published stories, makes it a bit weaker than some of the subsequent novels. Yet still there was much to delight in. After that I read everything I could get my hands on from Asimov. I even had the complete set of books from the Lucky Stars series which were his juveniles published under "Paul French." I even read his Black Widow mysteries. I didn't realize my luck at the time, but there was this large book store almost like a warehouse with tons of books and a large SF section including pulp magazines. This was Powell books which is now rather famous in Portland and when I went back found it to be much changed.

      I also remember quite perfectly when I first read the epiphany as the foundation and robot books merged. It was so awesome in its unexpectedness. As if you found your two best friends also knew each other quite well. Now I went on to read the other Grand Master in SF, but Asimov will always have a special place in my heart, and not just because he was also a punster.

      Relatedly on the topic of psycho-history I found Michael Flynn's first novel "In the country of the blind" to take the idea in a further way and one I found more accurate. It was a great plot device in the foundation series, but really was not fully explored.

      1. Thank goodness you enjoy the unscripted aspect because we just don't know how to do it any other way. In fact, little secret here, this was our second recording. The first was corrupted so we had to wait a week to find a time to redo it. We covered some of the same ground, of course. But many of our reflections and diversions were "a la moment." So clearly that's how we roll. :-)

        I also really liked In The Country of the Blind. Was trying to recall the name just the other day so thank you for reminding me of that! It's hard to believe that was his first novel it was so accomplished.

    3. Now on to Romano Guardini, I also can recommend "The Lord", a book I really need to reread since it has been awhile. There is an interesting connection between this author and Pope Francis and Pope Benedict XVI. Pope Benedict is well-known as a big fan of his and liturgically was highly influenced by him. His book "Sprit of the Liturgy" is partial homage to Guardini's book of the same name. If you haven't read either, they are a treat. In fact these are more books due for a re-read. Pope Francis studied in Germany and was particularly interested in Guardini. He has named "The Lord" as one of those influences. It does crack me up that Romano Guardini was German which is certainly not apparent by his name.

      As for "Guns, Germs, and Steel", a book my father bought me at Powell's book store. I was not much impressed with it. Especially as a sole explanation, and while aspects of it are likely true, I just found it trying to explain too much. Any explanation of the rise of civilization that has whited-out the role the Catholic Church played is highly suspect.

      Also interesting was you discussion of "The Star", as story I certainly remember reading. As an atheist it had a nice resonance with me at the time. But I don't think I have read it more than once. I loved Scott's description of Clarke's work and the often godlike intervention of aliens. Once he mentioned this is was so apparent to me regarding his works.

      Now as to E.E. "Doc" Smith, I recently re-read the Lensman series which I still love. He is often credited in regards to the originator of space opera, regardless the Lensman series and his books in general are great space opera. Not surprising that his books are so stereotypical of the golden age of SF. The mad scientist against the other brilliant scientist and villains that don't hold up to much character development. Books that could be endlessly criticized on their literary quality, but darn if I don't really enjoy them.

      So thanks again for another great discussion. Oh and I picked up and read "Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore" and found that a good read.

      1. I never read Guns, Germs, and Steel, having depended on my daughter Rose who told me her many disagreements with the book when she was reading it. So I already got a blow-by-blow overview, thank goodness.

        I have wondered if an audiobook of the Lensmen might not have served me better than the actual book. A lot of the time I really enjoy old fun sf that way when I don't seem to have the patience for it otherwise. On the other hand, I just tried and failed for the fourth time to get through Princess of Mars. I've tried both print and audio. My enjoyment of the movie John Carter may be as close as I'll ever get to appreciating that book. :-)

        SO GLAD you liked Mr. Penumbra. Also fun without necessarily having many other literary merits. :-)

      2. I also meant to say that I really liked the Spirit of the Liturgy but don't recall if I connected it with Guardini's book. I'll definitely be reading more Guardini after I finish The Lord. He is just mind blowing, in a good way of course.