It’s April 2018: What SF book are you reading?

Bierschneeman

Journeyed there and back again
#2
Just finished Foundation ~Isaac Asimov
Foundation and Empire~ Isaac Asimoc
Second Foundation ~Isaac Asimov
Robot Visions ~ Isaac Asimov

busy weekend.
So Foundation series is wildly regarded as one of the best sci fi series of all time. If you don't agree we can at least give it a Lord of the Ring status for most influential . if you don't agree with that, you're fooling yourself.

I have read the first two and half of the third previously. and here is your warning, inside my spoiler blocks I will ruin everything I mean everything.
April Fools , okay from here on I will ruin everything

Foundation

the series is based heavily of the decline of the roman empire almost to a point you can probably watch the events without the plot , scfi fi, and with swapped proper nouns, and a summary of the decline. but one thing I also notice is that either the period sci fi influenced him, or the other way around. It's hard to tell when the publication dates overlap as they do.

So Rome is in a downward spiral, but the citizenry in the interior doesn't acknowledge it The signs are there though. The economy is stretched too thin, the complacency is to well defined. it will collapse it is inevitable. soon the outer provinces or Bretogne Germania, and Iberia will start to declare independence and carve out new kingdoms. when Rome collapse we will be sent into a long period of anarchy with a lower value of living. The greatest psychohistorian of all time (a mathematical psychology of the mob which applied correctly can predict reactions to events)Harry Seldon gathers up the greatest minds in Rome to leave and apply their skills outside (very similar to various sci fi books of the time, most notably Atlas Shrugged [I have not read] which is published both before this book, and after some of its individual pieces}

But they are deceived, the foundation is not creating a grand enclyclopedia , but forming a small civilization that will be able to survive through the anarchaic period, and through various crisis' restructure to meet the demands and expand into a second galaxy wide empire 28 thousand years earlier than originally predicted and or 28k less years of anarchy and turmoil.

The rest of the book is about meeting these Seldon ciris' and expanding into various stages of control over the surronding regions each more expansive than the last.

The book ends with the several changes throughout, first the encyclopedia is overthrown and they become the Holy roman empire. or religious center of the five neighboring kingdoms, power and empire without having the title. Then the religion is abandoned as they become a larger trading empire. And finally they are left with evidence that the Empire is still out there.

Foundation and Earth

This one starts in the same way as the last one ended. but.

The approaching Seldon Crisis is only hinted at before it is interrupted, so first time through you might not even notice it until you see Harry Seldon say what it was supposed to be only to be wrong. I was supposed to be that the traders will incite civil war, leaving the foundation in a strnger state of union . the problem, Psychohistory deals with the psychology of the mob but there is a next evolution of man able to manipulate the psychology of the mob. we don't know that initially but when we find out the twist becomes very obvious, before that still pretty easy, but that might be because it has now been copied a thouasand times over..

interesting side not, The Mule, is very much like DC comics Psycho Pirate (the 90s version for sure, the 80s version a little) but that character predates Foundation, it is possible Asimov got his idea from DC, or the same source. but I have not read any Psycho Pirae stuff before the 80s so it might be this psychologist bears little resemblance in his debut .

The ending is very satisfying as a book two of three, an ending copied repeatedly but never this well done.

they lost. the Mule conquers the foundation. Conquers the Empire (one of the future seldom crisis' and virtually becomes the ruler of the Foundation empire over a large quantity of the galaxy, it appears to be inevitable, it appears to look like he might cause the new empire earlier. However it is suggested his empire won't last as long as it should but ruin the plans only to descend into anarchy again.

right at the end, the mule is only stalled, unable to find the second foundation (ironically)

End.

Second Foundation.

less satisfying reveal.

I thought it was pretty clear the second foundation would be n trantor in the last book, especially with the mere students of the universe able to hold off the invasion and the sacking of rome. then again with the mule disabled on trantor. Fondation then inherits the Mule's new empire.

NEXT we have the foundation aware of second foundation two things, this is screwing up the psychohistory results and causing foundation to act like they have a safety net and underreact to everything. meanwhile an undercurrent was people who consider second foundation evil, and want rid of their influence.

I do like the various interpretations of how to find never never land using that nurery rhyme "first star at night.........

the overlaying evidence just keeps piling up that its on trantor but we still need to play a game of clue.

"AHH HAA Trantor was just a red herring, really there is no second foundation"
" AHH HAA you've been manipulated and are the red herring, SF is on this planet.
" AHH HAA that planet was just a red herring SF is on the other planet
" AHH HAA that planet is the red herring really SF was on Terminus the whole time, with us here"
End.
Epilogue
" AHH HAA the audience was deceived Terminus was just a red herring too, SF was really on Trantor the whole time.

Foundation 9/10
Foundation and Earth 10/10
Second Foundation 8.5/10
 

Bierschneeman

Journeyed there and back again
#3
nice, I just read an essay by Asimov in 1977 predicting this forum.

or more specifically a meeting place using computers where people can interact and communicate instantly with other people throughout the world on a common interest or topic without having to leave their home.
 

kenubrion

Journeyed there and back again
#4
A Night Without Stars by Peter Hamilton. Good to be back in the Commonwealth, fighting the Void and various aliens.
 

Derk of Derkholm

Journeyed there and back again
#5
nice, I just read an essay by Asimov in 1977 predicting this forum.

or more specifically a meeting place using computers where people can interact and communicate instantly with other people throughout the world on a common interest or topic without having to leave their home.
Very interesting!
Had to look up the history of Listserv to find out when the first such construct was created, and that was around 1986, so indeed, Asimov predicted that by quite some time (and certainly not "at your home", then)

I must say that when I personally re-read Foundation (which I had loved as a 13-year old around 1980) around 2014, I was less impressed with the prose, writing and creativity, then I was when I read it first.

Also, whenever I read a review of a Tesla or other automobile with autonomy capabilities, I can not help but think of positronic brains :)
"Sally" on the Internet Archive
 

Bierschneeman

Journeyed there and back again
#7
Just finished Foundation's Edge ~ Isaac Asimov
and The Gods Themselves ~ Isaac Asimov

Foundation's Edge apparently was a long expected sequel to the foundation series. But the long period of wait seems to have dulled the inspiration, or maybe it's that Asimov overextended himself with trying tie as many separate stories and series together as possible. don't get me wrong, it is good, but not nearly as good as the trilogy.

we get to see the continuation of the situations set up at the end of Second Foundation, and we get several tie ins to the robot anthology series, and the robot detective series. but these tie ins seem very forced and contrived.
worse still the weird contrived Gaia was just grating to all senses but adding the two robots as progenitors of the world at least adds, as their explanation of future plans needed answering, I just wish they didn't go into the bad fortune cookie horoscope nonsense of the living entwined world.

The gods themselves I almlost count as three separate short stories because of how different the sections are.

first one is one of his best work it recounts the tale of belligerence and science as an incompetent man stumbles of the worlds greatest discovery, accelerates to godhood of infallibility than protects it to the point of intentionally ruining the careers of those who oppose him. or potentially prove him wrong. This part shows the utter revulsion of the blindness of people when given power they don't deserve, earn, or the short sightedness of humanity to those they revere to a godhood. we can certainly apply this many characters in the world today, some things never change.

The second, is as brilliant as it is lousy, but all in a nature that belongs in a spoiler
I have read that this book was written as a response to critic who complained often that Asimov never wrote of aliens or sex, so this story is on alien sex. this might be true, but I have found that Asimov just won't stop writing about sex there are several stories written with gratuitous sex before this, and it becomes an often occurrence that we see his fetishes even more obviously later.

We didn't need this story to make the book work, and in fact it spoils an otherwise great story with useless bits that serve as a red herring, and a distraction.

That said, it is brilliant in its own right. Asimov ponders a universe with a different set of rules of physics. we postulate life in this universe and then create a three gender species, with a good twist (they are the larval stage and merge to one being after reproducing) the story ends with the inability to anything different pertaining to rescuing the other universe.

the third continues with the first and in a new and interesting manner. we do see more into the gratuitous sexual fantasies of Asimov unnecessarily. but we get a satisfactory conclusion in a new direction that has NOTHING at all to do with the distraction of story 2.

I realize now I must read End of Eternity, it was referenced in Foundations Edge and being a time travel novel I think its good with the time travel mystery someone is sending me through the Mystery Box company.

So I will, um rather, I have, or maybe, will have been going to finished, Am currently reading The End of Eternity

Foundations Edge 7.5/10
Gods Themselves. either 8.5 or 7.5 out of ten. hmmmm...
 
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TomTB

Super Moderator
Staff member
#8
I'm about a quarter way in to The Long Earth by Pratchett/Baxter and absolutely love it. The writing style is perfect for me, reminds me a bit of Gaiman.

I've previously purchased the entire series when individual books have been on offer, and very much looking forward to reading them all!
 

Bierschneeman

Journeyed there and back again
#9
I absolute
I'm about a quarter way in to The Long Earth by Pratchett/Baxter and absolutely love it. The writing style is perfect for me, reminds me a bit of Gaiman.

I've previously purchased the entire series when individual books have been on offer, and very much looking forward to reading them all!
I absolutely love that series
 

Bierschneeman

Journeyed there and back again
#10
Finished The End of Eternity ~ Isaac Asimov

Not entirey familiar with the timetravel subgenre, mostly because its rarely not cheese. This was brilliant though.

This book makes me question origins on a lot of timetravel cliché's it lays out the kill your own gradpa as if it is already part of the IRL culture (books written in 1955) but it also hits on a lot of other nonparadox clichés. I know most robot themes coiches and reoccurrences can all be attributed to Asimov, this makes me wonder if its time travel too.

The book makes references to the foundation series, and is referenced (badly) in foundation edge.

solid time travel novel though, and the if/when/going to was very concise and well thought out (sometimes it gets sooo bad)

I mentioned earlier that psycho pirate (DC comics) resembled exactly "the Mule" . in the same story (is it time crisis?) the aspect of eternity and the time travel craziness is also copyied pretty heavily. someone in DC loves Asimov.

The absolutely best part, that had me howl with delight, made the whole book genius...
It didn't just serve as a dense allegory for Plato's Allegory of the Cave, but right at the end the character of the future who just tolod the protag was wrong, eternity is evil, eternity, hurts and destroys humanity, and sets up the Hiroshima many millennia early (now 1944 instead of 30,000) to destroy eternity, this character who revealed then the possibility (unachievable before) of interstellar travel, and galactic empire , she out right says, this is all the aollegory of the cave with extra words in one solid line.

"come out to the mouth of the cave" right after giving him all that knowledge that makes him unable to return to eternity because he now knows too much.

10/10
 

Bierschneeman

Journeyed there and back again
#11
Finished Foundation and Earth~ Isaac Asimov
and, Nemesis~ Isaac Asimov

Foundation and Earth is a direct sequel to Foundation's edge, rather Precisely as the exact moment after the ending. I suspect the books were originally merged as one whole and broken up to two for convenience at a good climatic ending.
The obvious (so much so it is NOT a spoiler) is that they are continuing the search for Earth.
But the rest is all very spoiler heavy soo...

So we leave Gaia in the same way as the last two books set forth the plothook. "there is someone out there Manipulating us (or me) and I want it stopped" first it was trying to shake free of the Second Foundations influence, then this mysterious Gaia which they thought was earth, but now they realize that the entire Galaxy INCLUDING Gaia is wearing blinders in regards to the Origin planet and it's location, Earth. clearly they must be manipulating the Galaxy much like the two previous antagonists (SF and Gaia). annnd we're off.

this book is much more interesting than the last and the ridiculous groan worthy Gaia is left at a minimum. Gaia essentially is trying to turn the entire Galaxy into one giant entity, or Yeevo. they even mention an imaginary tentacled network. (I wonder if that's where Futurama got it?) And the "decider" (another modern scifi cartoon reference) has selected the Yeevo existence as the ultimate answer, but has no idea why. (nt much choice, as all three choices relieve Mankind from a freedom of individuality, so Galaxia being without conflict becomes an obvious option)

The book serves mostly as a merging of the four major Foundation universe series. (robot Anthology, Robot Detective, Empire, and Foundation) and it was really satisfyingly well done unlike most attempts like that.

First we end up on the bureaucratic center for the general sector we are looking towards, This gives us a red herring but mostly serves as a backdrop for some major infodump (but very well done and not at all intrusively so) as well as a way for Asimov to showcase his sexual fantasies (not a complaint, I am not a prude, but it's obvious, as it has been for all his other Sexual fantasies slid into his books, it's like he sits down and says "OMG that dream was soo hot, which book should I put it in" he is never pornographic, and the scenes are brief and never overstay their welcome)

Second we predictably end up finding out what happen to Aurora. but find zero info. a very well written red herring

Third we end up on Solaria, as soon as you realize this (if you read Foundation and Robots) you find yourself yelling "don't go in there" like so much slasher film. "GET OUT GET OUT" we find out the truth that was only a mystery in FnR and it is rather a satisfying end, the Solarians find themselves more and more isolationist until the entire society has broken down to a bunch of individuals who never interbreed but use society to perpetuate their own decendant lines, and their comfortable privacy. heavy in Eugenics and Pro-, first half of the 20th century American Conservatism (which is very isolationist, why it took us so long to join both world wars) both drawn in a slightly negative slant (rightly so, but less relavant today).

We pick up a Hermaphrodite child from Solaria and move on to the next planet, but instead of being Earth like we suspect, it is a brand new world, one we could mistake for mars, but ends up being just another spacer world we had never heard of. here we find coordinate for all of them. we form a star map of all fifty and assume the center is Earth, postulating a pre-luminal locomotion.

Fourth, we land on Alpha Centari, called Alpha, explained to might meaning the first in some sort of lingo, and therefore being Earth, maybe, Astronomers in the Audience should be torn between believing Earth to be a Melted polar icecap "Waterworld" starring Kevin Costner and several dozen Rube Goldberg machines, kind of world, and acknowledging that Alpah Centari would be REALLY close to center and therefore likely. This mostly ocean with a few islands world is populated with very few inhabitants. all with Japanese naming system and a Pacific Islander culture complete with Barebreasts very meticulously described. we locate a nearby star and interrupt the relaxed sex abundant existence with a threat of subtle death and leave.

Fifth We find Earth, impossibly still radioactive (but if you read FnR it makes sense) and figure out the manipulating influence to be on the moon.

sixth we meet R Deniel (the robot partner to Elijah Bailey in the robot detective series) and tie up all the loose ends. very neat and tidy. We also get a hint at a sixth book Asimov doesn't live long enough to write, "foundation and galaxy" (perhaps) as a unified single entity "galaxia" could defend against an invasion from another Galaxy.

politically I think I may oppose with the conclusion, but on scientific principle I EMBRACE it. It also allows for the arguments against the conclusion to be very soundly correct, as the Galaxia system devised can easily be taken as a arguments against Communism on the basis of cultural, scientific, and political stagnation.

It will take me many years of thought to untangle my opinions of FOR, from my opinions AGAINST. Even if I manage, I doubt I will ever be able to say decidedly If I am Pro, or Anti, the poltical thought in this book.

with all that said I would put this as one of the best in the series.
9/10

Nemesis

Based on a theory that we could have a neighbor star closer than Alpha Centari hidden behind thr Oort cloud (this theory proposed in a paper in 1986, had been subjected to enough ridicule to be considered impossible by this books publication in 1990) The star in this book is heading towards Sol system (and therefore the destruction of every overpopulated colony in the system) This whole concept is used in that RECENT Awful Awful Awful Awful Awful Awful Awful Awful Awful Awful Awful Awful, completely not mistakable as scifi movie often touted as a brilliant scifi (Hollywood is run by idiots), Melancholia. I went in wanting to hate it, but its not that bad. This is good writing (unlike Melancholia)

Foundatin and Earth 9/10
Nemesis 6/10
 

jo zebedee

Journeyed there and back again
#12
Just finished an Argumentation of Historians by Jodi Taylor. I was unsure about the main thrust of the story at the time but, at the end, thought she brought it all together well.
 

Bierschneeman

Journeyed there and back again
#13
Finished Prelude to Foundation~ Isaac Asimov
and Norby the Mixed up Robot~Janet Asimov (Isaac edited mostly, and This is part one of the twofor collection, Norby Chronicles)

Prelude WOW, I cannot think of a better prequel ever. prequels as a general rule are pretty much garbage, with a few okay or goods. THIS was even better than the rest of the series of series'.

So we are watching Hari Seldon (not a spoiler) in his efforts to create Psychohistory with which the Foundation series is based. This starts with Hari having just finishing his presentation at a conference of the most learned Mathmaticians in the Galaxy, on psychohistory, a subject that Hari insist was just a toy of a theory but not actually practical, and not actually workable into a comprehensive framework, AKA useless save as a mathematic joke. We then see all sorts of people wanting to use the mathematics in ways that he insists are not possible (fortune telling) and so he hides/goes to find out if It can be useful. We then explore Trantor much in a similar fashion as the worlds in Foundation and Earth. This we are exploring a world we kniw almost nothing about but vague references, and post collapse cultures.

I will give you a hint on one of them, AMISH CHRISTIAN ROMANCE

There are several Retcons (Retoractively changed Continuities, OR continuity errors perhaps) but can't expect everything to mesh up perfectly, especially since there are twenty two books written over 50 year, NOT in (in world) chronological order, several written before they were decided to be added to the universe.

example
Hari Seldon now creates Psychohistory as a base theory, no assistance. In "Robots of Dawn" ANd "Foundation and Earth", Giscarde created it by pushing it into a character to get it started and Tells R. Daneel about it. in the new continuity R. Daneel is clueless until the Presentation by Seldon 12k (or 20k, unsure about timelines) years ago

There is a rule I am now enacting for Asimiov. Never miss an opportunity to describe breasts. At least this time it is heading towards a plot point.

HEY we finally got ole Asimov to be a little romantic, instead of just presenting his gratuitous sexual fantasies, this time the descriptive nudes lead to a nicely done (though subtle) romance ending.

All to satisfying are the references to various Asimov books
HEY we find out not all the spacers die off, the small Amish community on trantor is essentially a Auroran Ghetto. They keep the population to the standard limits they were used too, they obsess over being better than everyone else (nothing new there) they refuse to upgrade their technology beyond what was available when they were on Aurora. They remain the producers of the absolute best food in the galaxy. But they now keep an old Auroran Encyclopedia and thump it like a bible, even worshipping both a deactivated robot and their lost world. demonizing R. Daneel in the process.

I loved the ending, stellar. And (warning the next spoiler is also a spoiler for the second prequel book)
They gave us enough oddly used words and hints that the big reveal in book two should start to itch in your mind, at least as a question.

as for Norby. that is a hard pass.

Prelude to Foundation, 10/10
Norby, 3/10
 

Bierschneeman

Journeyed there and back again
#14
finished Forward to Foundation~ Isaac Asimov
also two other Norby books, NO REVIEW, just don't try to read it, its bad.

Not as good as Prelude, BUT it is still top five of the many many foundation universe books.

Much like Prelude the book is structured likened to other books in the series, Whereas Prelude structures like the Foundation and Earth exploration (travelogue baby) This book is structured more like the original Foundation trilogy, a series of Seldon Crisis'.

We also rope in Nemesis as now part of the Foundation Universe (though it was advertised as a NEW universe when it came out) but much like End of Eternity, it is mentioned as a distant Myth that may or may not be true, likely not. (even as a myth it is still part of it)
as the last book (in sequence) in the greater Foundation series it adequetly rounds out the universe, it bridges perfectly the gaps between the various smaller seires (often with retcons unfortunately) It answers so many questions we had, and it ties up everything nice and neat.

The prequel series is more important to read than the two Trilogy sequels.

9/10

(I think I am doomed to start reading crap, just look at how many 9s and 10s ratings I have given to Asimov. )
 

Bierschneeman

Journeyed there and back again
#16
@Bierschneeman

Do you recommend starting the Asimov stuff at Foundation, Prelude to Foundation or the Galactic Empire trilogy? Not sure if I want to read the Robot series.
I had planned to make a big post on the matter of reading order, and priorities. but a condensed one will do.

if you only plan to read one book, in foundation universe (or Asimov in general). "end of eternity" it is a fantastic time travel novel with a lot of great spins of logic. the bonus being it stands alone , you need no prerequisites and can read it without being tempted to see what happens next. the downside is you are missing out on his best stuff.


but, if you want to read anywhere between 3 books and the whole set. START WITH FOUNDATION the original trilogy.

IMHO the best 5 books in the whole universe (foundation that is) not in order. book two in foundation, "foundation and Empire" book three in the robot detective series, "Robots of Dawn" , book one on the prequel series "Prelude to Foundation", book one of the anthology series "i, robot" (you can read conplete robot instead)and "end of eternity"

don't discount the robot detective series, it's really well done, and sets up a lot of what happens next (onwards to all that is next) and if you read passed foundation, it is best to have already read them than to go back.

skip galactic Empire, the first two are poor space operas written like dimestore spy novels. pebble... might be worth it I have not read it.

reading order pending
 

Bierschneeman

Journeyed there and back again
#17
recommended reading order for those that choose to read more than a few.

1.foundation 1-3 (foundation, and empire, second foundation)

2.end of eternity ( not necessary, but pretty good, does not set up anything but a single line later)

3.i,robot (it gives you a quick synopsis of how we got from here, to the start of caves of steel, worth it)

4.robot detectives(1-4) (caves of steel , naked sun, robots of dawn, robots and empire)

skip)assume empire exists and skip the galactic Empire


5. foundations edge, Foundation and earth

6. prelude and forward foundation

7. optional, nemesis. it is vaguely referenced, but it just isn't very great. skipable

NOTE: once you have read I,robot. the rest of the anthologies are fairly skipable. there is a lot of repetition of stories and a lot of unrelated stories. I,robot is presented in chronological order and very satifying as it also presents a story arc across the whole book. the stories are heavily referenced in the rest of Foundation books. and you can say the repeated themes and ideas could be a foreshadowing. (No spoilers there,)

NOTE: I have not read pebble in the sky, or positronica man
 

Khartun

Journeyed there and back again
#18
recommended reading order for those that choose to read more than a few.

1.foundation 1-3 (foundation, and empire, second foundation)

2.end of eternity ( not necessary, but pretty good, does not set up anything but a single line later)

3.i,robot (it gives you a quick synopsis of how we got from here, to the start of caves of steel, worth it)

4.robot detectives(1-4) (caves of steel , naked sun, robots of dawn, robots and empire)

skip)assume empire exists and skip the galactic Empire


5. foundations edge, Foundation and earth

6. prelude and forward foundation

7. optional, nemesis. it is vaguely referenced, but it just isn't very great. skipable

NOTE: once you have read I,robot. the rest of the anthologies are fairly skipable. there is a lot of repetition of stories and a lot of unrelated stories. I,robot is presented in chronological order and very satifying as it also presents a story arc across the whole book. the stories are heavily referenced in the rest of Foundation books. and you can say the repeated themes and ideas could be a foreshadowing. (No spoilers there,)

NOTE: I have not read pebble in the sky, or positronica man
That helps a lot. Thanks!