Apr 26, 2010

Prelude to Foundation

I could only find the prelude book in the foundation series. SO I read it instead of "foundation" by Asimov, but I plan on coming back to it in a bit as soon as I can find a good copy somewhere. (see, my list is getting longer already.)

Anyway, my take on the prelude to Asimov's famous series:

The writing is very entertaining. Clearly the man was a scientist, not only by profession, but in his writing as well. The way he explains the mathematical and scientific elements in his fantasy worlds is both complex and easily understandable. By this measure alone, Asimov is a stunning writer; add to it the skilled and imaginative world building, interesting character development, and clever plot twists and you've got something more than just pulp fiction, here. You've got a classic, at the very least.

Overall the message I got when I read this book was one of science reigning supreme as a force for good in the Universe. The main character, Hari Seldon, who later becomes a sort of icon of goodness and intelligence, in a way a god-figure for the rest of the series, is devoted above all else to science. He sees himself as a manifestation or conduit for scientific power.

You can, in fact, draw several parallels between Hari Seldon and Christ. He has come up with this amazing scientific theory that could change the way the Universe, as a whole, operates, and the futures of everyone in it. But he has this skepticism, this big doubt hanging over him. He doesn't believe his theory can actually be practiced and made into an actual tool. This is sort of the God/Mortal element to Seldon as a Christ figure; every character in the book sees him as immortal, in a way, because they think he can mathematically predict the future. He tries to explain to everybody that, in fact, he cannot predict the future. At one point in the novel he even says that the day he gave the scientific paper detailing his theory, was the day he ruined his own life.

In fact I suspect that the character, Hari, is a lot like Asimov himself was. Asimov believed that he was a Humanist. Meaning, he is atheist, and takes Humanism as his "religion." Humanism, summed up in one sentence, is the philosophy that Humanity itself is divinity. To elaborate on that, Humanity can create good or evil, Humanity doesn't need a God to force it to do either. And when a Human being does good or evil, he or she can take credit for those actions more fully because a higher power isn't involved.

I would argue that Asimov was no humanist. He did have a higher power. His God was Science. To him, Science held all the possible answers in the universe, and true, pure science without human bias was not only impossible at the hands of imperfect human beings, but was also the greatest force for good. Thus we see his version of a "higher power"-- pure science, the thing that Humanity is constantly reaching toward but will never quite attain.

It was very enjoyable book to read and again, I'd recommend it without hesitation. Nothing truly objectionable, either. Some subtle sexual references, a little bit of violence. That's it. The most enjoyable part for me were the descriptions of the world Asimov conceptualized. It was so very well done, and with a good balance of description and plot that didn't weigh the story down. In short, I really liked it.

If Things Fall Apart was a ****, I give this story a *** and 1/2, which I can't find a symbol for, so just pretend there's half an asterisk up there.


Janell said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Janell said...

I was reading a bit fast and at first read your asterisks as censored profanity rather than a star rating. I'd don't recall you ever doing such a thing, so I knew I'd read wrong.

Here's how you get fractions:

¼ (ampersand frac14 semi-colon)
½ (ampersand frac12 semi-colon)
¾ (ampersand frac34 semi-colon)

(note to self: The "preview" button is a very good thing. Sorry for the deleted comment.)

Putz said...

censored profanity, is that what we have censored profanity?????????

Emily said...

I love Asimov... I Robot is GREAT and I really enjoyed the Foundation series. Last month my book club read Caves of Steel this month. It is my least favorite. By the way... Things Fall Apart is another of my favorites : )

Putz said...

you should absolutely, definetly, wonderfullluy eread 'he who shrank" by issac isosmov{SP>} amn shrunk into berylum x a very dense particle and goes into different wolds of molecular structure becoming a gaint in one molecule surrounded by a neucleu, and then shrinking into strange worlds where he interacts and becomes very tiny shrinking out of their world into others forever>>best sciece fiction book i have ever read, bar none...