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A few (noteworthy) Sci-fi Quotes
"Science Fiction is something that could happen - but usually you wouldn't want
it to. Fantasy is something that couldn't happen - though often you only wish
that it could"
Arthur C. Clarke, Forward to "The Collected
Stories of Arthur C. Clarke", January - 2002
"You can't argue with mundanes
because they do
not appear to be fully aware".
Alfred Bester (Psi Cop from
(Bester's quote refers to non-telepaths. Comic-Con attendees use the label
"mundanes" to refer to people who "don't enjoy sci-fi")
"Fantasy involves that which general opinion regards as impossible; Science
Fiction involves that which general opinion regards as possible under the
Philip K Dick, 1982
Two 'Hard Sci-fi' Writers
Arthur C. Clark
film buffs, Arthur C. Clarke is best known as the author who collaborated
with Stanley Kubrick to produce 2001: A Space Odyssey
. The scientific
community remembers him as the man who first conceptualized geosynchronous
communication-satellite relays, in a 1945 paper that became the foundation
for modern communications technology. But science-fiction fans have any
number of touchstones for the British author: He's one of very few to be
designated a Science Fiction Grand Master, he's the author of the classic
novels Childhood's End
and Rendezvous With Rama
and he first created the popular axiom "Any sufficiently advanced technology
is indistinguishable from magic." By his late 80s, Clarke had written or collaborated on more
than 70 books, including three 2001 sequels, three Rendezvous With Rama
sequels (co-authored with Gentry Lee), two autobiographies, and a wide
variety of essays and short stories. His non-fiction includes collections of
his correspondence with C.S. Lewis and Lord Dunsany, as well as many books
on physics, science, and space travel, from 1950's guidebook Interplanetary
to 1994's The Snows Of Olympus
, a graphic look at a terraformed Mars.
His latest, Time's Eye
, is a new collaboration with Stephen
Baxter, the first in a series of novels involving a cataclysm that slices
Earth into segments from across history, leading cosmonauts and prehistoric
humans to mix in an epic struggle. From his home in Sri Lanka, Clarke spoke
The Onion A.V. Club
religion, transcendence, the possibility of life on Mars, and the dinosaur
that was named after him.
It all began at Christmas 1948 - yes 1948 - with a four-thousand-word short
story that I wrote for a contest sponsored by the BBC (British Broadcasting
Corporation). The Sentinel
discovery of a small pyramid on the Moon, set there by some alien
civilization to await the emergence of mankind as a planet-faring species.
Until then, it was implied, we would be too primitive to be of any interest.
The BBC rejected my modest effort, and it was not published until almost
three years later in the one-and-only (Spring 1951) issue of "10 Story
Fantasy" - a magazine that, as the invaluable Encyclopedia of Science
Fiction wryly comments, is "primarily remembered for its poor arithmetic
(there were thirteen stories)."
From "Valediction", "3001: The Final Odyssey"
Ballantine Books (1997)
"Astrologers used to believe that Man's destiny is controlled by the stars.
But one day it may come to pass that the stars' destiny is controlled by
Arthur C. Clarke
Odyssey Series (before y2k)
A Space Odyssey (1968)
- The monoliths are introduced to humanity (a small monolith 6 million years
ago on Earth, a larger monolith is found buried on the moon, a huge
monolith is found in orbit around Jupiter)
- On the journey to Jupiter, the onboard computer known as
HAL-9000 kills astronaut
Frank Poole during a spacewalk to repair the
Odyssey Two (1982)
- American and Russian scientists cooperate while visiting the
monolith orbiting Jupiter while their governments behave badly on Earth
- cool quote
from the movie: Listen, just because our governments are
behaving like asses doesn't mean we have to. We're supposed to be
scientists, not politicians, how fast?
Odyssey Three (1988)
- Heywood Floyd visits Halley's Comet
The Final Odyssey (1997)
- Frank Poole's body is recovered; Dave Bowman returns to Sol
A Sinister Retelling of the Odyssey Story (since y2k)
- Time's Eye
- A Time Odyssey: 1 (2004) 1
- "2001: A Space Odyssey" began with "Moon-Watcher" in Africa; "Time's
Eye" begins with "Seeker" in the North-West Frontier (Pakistan -
Afghanistan border); Earth has been observed for eons by the "Firstborn"
- This books spends way-too-much time in the past and yet you need to
read it in order to read the next book
- A Time Odyssey: 2 (2005) 1
- This book is much better than Timer's Eye which spent far too long
in humanity's past
- "Time's Eye" seems to be 30% Clarke and 70% Baxter
- "Sunstorm" seems to be 70% Clarke and 30% Baxter
- A Time Odyssey: 3 (2008) 1
- This book is not as good as book 2 (Sunstorm).
- This books spends too-much time in the past
- Coauthored with Stephen Baxter
- Coauthored with Gentry Lee
- Click www.bookfinder.com to
locate rare and out-of-print books
Rama (the 1996 PC-based Game)
Based on the novel by Arthur C. Clarke. By now, the year 2130, all of the
largest asteroids in the solar system have long since been discovered. Smaller
ones are being downed at the rate of a dozen a day. So when a huge new asteroid
appears the only surprise is that is was overlooked for so long. It is duly
assigned the next available name, Rama, and is promptly forgotten about - but
not for long. As Rama approaches the Earth, every question about it seems to
have an answer that raises more questions. And as observations continue, the
most impossible explanation becomes the only one: Rama is actually a spaceship.
The next step is obvious: mankind must attempt a rendezvous. But only one of our
spaceships is close enough. As fate has it, that ship is Endeavor - the ship
that you command. Without even reading them, you know what your orders will be:
to rendezvous with the giant ship, to explore it, to meet with its inhabitants,
and to return home before it speeds on its orbit away from the solar system. Yet
even in your excitement, you realize it is not an easy mission. You will have to
make difficult decisions - many of them. And you will have to work very fast -
because if you stay on Rama too long, returning home will be impossible. From
the first moment it has been clear: this is the mission of your lifetime.
Thousands would gladly sacrifice anything for the chance. Only you can explore
Rama. Rendezvous with Rama is the first computer adventure to be produced in
collaboration with Arthur C. Clarke. The program allows you to talk with three
other crew members. Multiple disks offer extended play - and the game may be
played with or without graphics. Arthur C. Clarke, world-famous author of 2001:
A Space Odyssey, continues to be a major force in science fiction; over
twenty-million copies of his books have been printed World-Wide. The novel
Rendezvous with Rama has won three highest science fiction awards: the Hugo, the
Nebula and the John W. Campbell Awards. The adventure game Rendezvous with Rama
was developed and produced by Byron Preiss Video Productions, Inc., leading
designers of entertainment and educational software. Their technical director is
One other highly note-worthy book (not sci-fi)
the World was One (1992)
- From The Dust Jacket:
Arthur C. Clarke,
visionary author of both science fact and science fiction, first conceived
of satellite communications in 1945--and twenty-five years later his dream
became reality. Now, in this new personal and colorful nonfiction work,
Clarke examines the rapid transformation of our society by technology and
communication. As the infant field of communications began growing in the
early part of this century, so did the boy named Arthur C. Clarke--who
watched, wide-eyed, as his small English village was transformed overnight.
In his job as the village switchboard operator he once overloaded the
circuits, excitedly eavesdropping on his first transatlantic call. From
there his involvement grew more and more technical, culminating in his
now-famous paper "Extra-Terrestrial Relays," which anticipated many of the
developments of the next fifty years. For five thousand years communication
never advanced beyond the speed of horse and wind-driven ship--but in the
explosive span of thirty years, it changed forever. Newer, faster
communication toppled tyranny, won wars, and changed history all the way
from the second Russian Revolution to the Gulf war. Here is the story of the
stranger-than-fiction mishaps, oversights, capricious acts of fate, and
incredible human energy that eventually transformed the earth into our
modern global village. Clarke brings unique expertise and a lifetime of
experience to How the World Was One. Beginning with submarine cables,
through the development of fiber optics and communications satellites, and
then projecting far into a future of neutrino, gravitational, and tachyon
(faster than light) communications, Arthur C. Clarke shows how these
remarkable innovations shaped and changed the earth--and made the world one.
- Excerpt from Preface, Page 1, Paragraph 3
Nevertheless, Toynbee was essentially correct. Except for a few dwindling
tribes in (alas) equally dwindling forests, the human race has now become
almost a single entity, divided by time zones rather rather than by natural
frontiers of geography. The same TV news networks cover the globe; the
world's markets are linked by the most complex machine ever devised by
mankind -- the international telephone/telex/fax/data transfer system.
- Excerpt from Preface, Page 2, Paragraph 2
Despite the linguistic, religious, and cultural barriers that still sunder
nations, the unification of the world [by telecommunications] has passed the
point of return...
- Excerpt from Chapter 1, Page 1, Paragraph 3
This state of affairs has existed for the greater part of human history.
When Queen Victoria came to power in 1837, she had no swifter means of
sending messages to the far parts of her empire than had Julius Caesar --
or, for that matter, Moses.
- Excerpt from Chapter 27, Page 200, Paragraphs 3-4
Telstar (and its successor Telstar 2, launched May 7, 1963) showed that
active satellites could do everything that had been claimed for them, and
with very modest powers -- as long as they were backed up by massive ground
equipment. The Bell System had built an even larger horn-antenna for the
Telstar than for Echo; the giant ear at Andover, Maine, weighed 370 tons yet
was able to track the speeding satellite to an accuracy of better than a
twentieth of a degree.
And that was the big problem. Because of its relatively low altitude
(between 950 and 5,600 kilometres) Telstar 1 circled the Earth several times
per day; its orbital period was only a fraction of the magic twenty-four
- Excerpt from Chapter 27, Page 201, Paragraphs 3
... paradoxically, it takes rather more energy to park [a satellite] twenty
two thousand miles up than to land on the ten-times-more-distant moon.
- WIRING THE ABYSS
- Introduction (to electrical / electronic communications)
- The Coming of the Telegraph
- Channel Crossing
- A Great American (Cyrus West Field)
- Lord of Science (William Thomson a.k.a. Lord Kelvin)
- False Start (to laying an Atlantic telegraph cable)
- Triumph of Disaster
- The Brink of Success
- Heart's Content (the first successful cable is laid)
- Battle on the Seabed (they try to grapple for a dropped
- Girdle Round the Earth
- The Deserts of the Deep
- The Cable's Core
- VOICE ACROSS THE SEA
- The Wires Begin to Speak (Alexander Graham Bell)
- The Man Before Einstein (Oliver Heaviside)
- Mirror in the Sky (the ionosphere is discovered)
- Transatlantic Telephone
- "Wireless" (Clarke's boyhood recollections of crystal and
valve (vacuum tube) radios
- Exploring the Spectrum
- A BRIEF PREHISTORY OF COMSATS
- Beyond the Ionosphere
- "You're on the glide path... I think..."
- How I Lost a Billion Dollars in My Spare Time
- "If you've got a message..."
- The Making of a Moon (a reprinted short story)
- "I Remember Babylon" (a reprinted short story)
- STARRY MESSENGERS
- Echo and Telstar
- Early Bird
- The United States of Earth
- Satellites and Saris
- At the UN
- Coop's Troop
- Appointment in the Vatican
- Happy Birthday, Comsat!
- The Clarke Awards
- CNN Live
- LET THERE BE LIGHT!
- Cable Comeback
- Talking with Light
- As Far As Eye Can See (like this book's title, Clarke
appears to have a sense of humor :-)
Epilogue: Fin de siecle
-- or Dawn of a New Millennium
Postscript: The Second Russian
- NSR Comments: I was surprised to learn that
many telegraph cable projects were doomed to failure because overly
optimistic participants refused to learn
Only playing with technology resulted in the loss of many billions of
dollars which is reminiscent of the losses associated with the Dot-Com
(dot-con?) meltdown of 2000-2002.
Some Useful Links:
Clarke's First Law:
"When a distinguished but elderly scientist
states that something is possible he is almost certainly right. When he
states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong."
Clarke defines the adjective 'elderly' as :"In physics, mathematics and
astronautics it means over thirty; in other disciplines, senile decay is
sometimes postponed to the forties. There are of course, glorious
exceptions; but as every researcher just out of college knows, scientists of
over fifty are good for nothing but board meetings, and should at all costs
be kept out of the laboratory". (in Profiles of the Future.)
Clarke's Second Law:
"The only way of discovering the limits of the
possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible."
Clarke's Third Law:
"Any sufficiently advanced
technology is indistinguishable from magic."
Though he wrote after the laws that "Since three laws was sufficient for
both the Isaacs - Newton and Asimov - I have decided to stop here", he
continued to write laws, as we can see in the Appendix 2 of The
Odyssey File where he states the Clarke's 69th Law:
"Reading computer manuals without the hardware is as frustrating as
reading sex manuals without the software."
Clarke's Fourth Law:
“For every expert there is an equal and opposite expert.”
A hundred years ago, the electric telegraph made possible - indeed,
inevitable - the United States of America. The communications satellite
will make equally inevitable a United Nations of Earth; let us hope that
the transition period will not be equally bloody.
Clarke, "First on the Moon", 1970
Isaac Asimov (PhD Biochemistry; not an honorary
the rear dust jacket of "The Caves of Steel"
For a long time the author has led a double life: one as
one of the masters of the fast, terse, often humorous galactic melodramas,
and as a biochemist and teacher at the Boston University School of Medicine,
where he is engaged in cancer research. Mr. Asimov says: "Science Fiction
invades most of the facets of my life, even my serious research. At my final
examination for a doctorate in biochemistry (with seven professors asking
profound and embarrassing questions) the last question concerned one of the
incidents in one of my science-fiction stories. I got my degree." Mr. Asimov
also says he is better known for such stories as Pebble in the Sky,
The Stars, Like Dust and
The Currents of Space in the science fiction world (which
takes science fiction very seriously) than he is ever likely to be for his
TODAY'S (1954) FICTION - TOMORROW'S FACTS
Magazine says there are more than TWO MILLION science fiction fans in this
country. From all corners of the nation comes the resounding proof that
science fiction has established itself as an exciting and imaginative NEW
FORM OF LITERATURE that is attracting literally tens of thousands of new
readers every year! Why? Because no other form of fiction can provide you
with such thrilling and unprecedented adventures! No other form of fiction
can take you on an eerie trip to Mars ... amaze you with a journey into the
year 3000 A.D. ... or sweep you into the fabulous realms of unexplored
Space! Yes, it's no wonder that this exciting new form of imaginative
literature has captivated the largest group of fascinated new readers in the
United States today!
From the "The Left Hand of the Electron"
Introduction to chapter 4 (The 3-D Molecule)
In the days when I was actively teaching, full time, at a medical school,
there was always the psychological difficulty of facing a sullen audience.
The students had come to school to study medicine. They wanted white coats,
a stethoscope, a tongue depressor, and a prescription pad. Instead, they
found that for the first two years (at least, as it was in the days when I
was actively teaching) they were subjected to the "basic sciences." That
meant they had to listen to lectures very much in the style of those they
had suffered through in college. Some of those basic sciences had, at least,
a clear connection with what they recognized as the doctor business,
especially anatomy, where they had all the fun of slicing up cadavers. Of
all the basic sciences, though, the one that seemed least immediately
"relevant," farthest removed from the game of doctor-and-patient, most
abstract, most collegiate, and most saturated with despised Ph.D.'s as
professors was biochemistry. And, of course, it was biochemistry that I
taught. I tried various means of counteracting the natural contempt of
medical student for biochemistry. The device which worked best (or, at
least, gave me most pleasure) was to launch into a spirited account of "the
greatest single discovery in all the history of medicine" that is, the germ
theory of disease. I can get very dramatic when pushed, and I would build up
the discovery and its consequences to the loftiest possible pinnacle. And
then I would say, "But, of course, as you probably all take for granted, no
mere physician could so fundamentally revolutionize medicine. The discoverer
was Louis Pasteur, Ph.D., a biochemist."
From the dust jacket of "Robots and
Doubleday 1985 hardcover edition
Isaac Asimov's ROBOTS AND EMPIRE
heralds a major new landmark in the great Asimovian galaxy of science
fiction. For it not only presents the trilling sequel to the best-selling
ROBOTS OF DAWN, but also ingeniously interweaves all three of Asimov's
classic series: Robot, Foundation, and Empire. This is the work Asimov fans
have been waiting for - an electrifying tale of interstellar intrigue and
adventure that sets a new standard in the realm of SF literature.
hundred years have passed since THE ROBOTS OF DAWN and Elijah Baley, the
beloved hero of Earthpeople, is dead. The future of the Universe is at a
crossroads. Though the forces of the sinister Spacers are weakened, Dr.
Keldon Amadiro has never forgotten -- or forgiven -- his humiliating defeat
at the hands of Elijah. Now, with vengeance burning in his heart, he is more
determined than ever to bring about the total annihilation of the planet
But Amadiro had not counted on the equally determined Lady
Gladia. Devoted to Elijah Baley, the Auroran beauty has taken upon the
legacy of her fallen lover, vowing to stop the Spacer's at any cost. With
her two robot companions, Daneel and Giskard, she prepares to set into
motion a daring and dangerous plan . . . a plan whose success -- or failure
-- will forever seal the fate of Earth and all who live there.
Culminating in a stunning surprise climax, ROBOTS AND EMPIRE is singular
science fiction that excites the mind and stimulates the imagination. It is
Isaac Asimov at his triumphant best, proving him, once again, the true
Master of the genre.
Back in 2004, Isaac Asimov (already dead for 12 years) sent
humanity a message from 1988.
Okay so it was only a few
paragraphs from a just-delivered 1988 book but I was "in the zone" and took
it seriously because it reminded me of the posthumous messages sent by
of humanity (via the
) in Asimov's Foundation Novels
with the Foundation Trilogy
. You should read this message
Asimov's Favorite Fifteen
the basis for a provocative humanistic-robotic philosophy which is so
awe-inspiring that I could, if I so desired, create a religion based upon it
(although I would not because Asimov would not have approved; Asimov had
remarked more than once that Hubbard had gone astray with Dianetics). And
here is something I do not understand, although half of Asimov's stories
were written in the 1940s and 1950s, they do not seem anachronistic in any
way. In fact, they seem to have been written last week.
Neil Steven Rieck
Asimov's Message (in the gray box) follows...
p.s. books also qualify as "time vaults"
From "Author's Note
(pages ix to x) of "Prelude To Foundation
1988 hardcover edition © 1988 by Nightfall Inc.
When I wrote
, which appeared in the May 1942 issue of
Astounding Science Fiction
, I had no idea I had begun a series of
stories that would eventually grow into six volumes and a total of 650,000
words (so far). Nor did I have any idea that it would be unified with my
series of short stories and novels involving robots and my novels involving
the Galactic Empire for a grand total (so far) of fourteen
and a total of about 1,450,000 words.
You will see, if
you study the publication dates of these books, that there was a
twenty-five-year hiatus between 1957 and 1982, during which I did not add to
this series. This is not because I had stopped writing. Indeed, I wrote
full-speed throughout the quarter century, but I wrote other things. That I
returned to the series in 1982 was not my own notion but was the result of a
combination of pressures from readers and publishers that eventually became
In any case, the situation has become sufficiently
complicated for me to feel that the readers might welcome a kind of guide to
the series, since they were not written in the order in which (perhaps) they
should be read.
The fourteen books
published by Doubleday, offer a kind of history of the
, which is, perhaps, not completely consistent, since I did not
plan consistency to begin with. The chronological order order of the books,
in terms of future history (and not of publication date), is as follows:
Syllabus reading order as suggested by Isaac Asimov:
(NSR comments and changes
The End of Eternity (1955)
||One hardcore Asimov fan told me this book was listed before all
the others in a recommended list published in
Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine
I, Robot (1950) 1
The Complete Robot (1982)
I, Robot is a collection of nine short
stories presented as the memoirs of robot psychologist Dr. Susan
Calvin (an employee of U.S. Robots and Mechanical Men
Corporation). Most people find this book's title plain
weird until they read chapter 8 ("Evidence").
Everyone should read chapter 9 ("Evitable Conflict").
here for more details.
The Complete Robot is a collection of
thirty-one robot short stories published between 1940 and 1976
and includes every story in my earlier collection I,
Robot (1950). Only one robot short story has been
written since this collection appeared. That is Robot
Dreams, which has not yet appeared in any Doubleday
||Caves of Steel (1954)
||This is the first of my robot novels.
||The Naked Sun (1957)
||The second robot novel.
||The Robots of Dawn
||The third robot novel.
||Robots and Empire (1985)
||The fourth robot novel.
||The Currents of Space
||This is the first of my [Galactic]
||The Stars, Like Dust
||The second [Galactic]
||Pebble in the Sky
||The third [Galactic]
Empire novel and first novel.
||Prelude to Foundation
||This is the first Foundation novel.
||This is the second Foundation novel.
[ this title was not in Asimov's original list; Fourteen books
||The is the third Foundation novel but
most of the world knows this book as the first book of the
Foundation Trilogy. Actually, it began as a
collection of four short stories, originally published between 1942
and 1944, plus an introductory section written for the book in 1949.
||Foundation and Empire
||This is the fourth Foundation novel, made
from of two short stories, originally published in 1945.
||This is the fifth Foundation novel, made
from two short stories, originally published in 1948 and 1949.
||This is the sixth Foundation novel.
||Foundation and Earth
||This is the seventh Foundation novel.
[ Asimov's list shows a publishing date of 1983 but this is a typo ]
Will I add additional books to the series? I might. There is room for a
6 between Robots and Empire and
The Currents of Space, and between Prelude to
and Foundation (which turned out to be Forward the Foundation
4), and of course between others as well
6. And then I can follow Foundation and Earth
with with additional volumes -- as many as I like. Naturally, there's got to
be some limit, for I don't expect to to live forever, but I do intend to
hang on as long as possible.
- Even though this book was originally published in 1950, the pre-1950
stories contained within seem to stand the test of time. This might have
something to do with the fact that Asimov usually glosses over
technological details while concentrating more on the human side of
things. Remembering that these stories were written during the age of
vacuum tubes thus predating the age of transistors and integrated
circuits (chips), Asimov
never mentions tubes or transistors but he does mention something called
the Positronic Brain which is just a literary device for "unknown
technology". One dated phrase he uses is "robot psychologist" which
should probably have been "computer programmer" but who really knows if
my criticism is correct. Artificial Intelligence (AI) programming may
become so complex that "robot psychology" may become a programming
- The story Robot Dreams did appear in a robot
compilation published by Byron Press in 1986 titled Robot Dreams.
A second robot compilation was published by Byron Press in 1990 titled
- Books 6-8 are part of Asimov's Galactic Empire
series. Asimov thought that these books were not very good (as far as
the Robot-to-Foundation story line is concerned). He once stated "You
can skip these books and still have a very enjoyable read [of the other
- Primarily due to the book clubs of the 1950s and 1960s, there
once was a time when Asimov was better known for these three books
than he was for the Foundation Trilogy
- Book 8 (Pebble in the Sky) was republished in
hardcover on January 2008 and I enjoyed it immensely.
- Book 7 (The Stars, Like Dust) was republished
in hardcover on December 2008 and I enjoyed it as well.
- Book 6 (The Currents of Space) was republished
in hardcover on April 2009 and think it was worth every penny.
- Book 10 (Forward the Foundation) was not in
Asimov's original list because he had not yet written it. This means
that books 11-15 reflect new numberings. Forward the Foundation
was Asimov's last book. Click here for
suppressed information about Asimov's death
in 1992 at the age of 72.
- Books 11-13 are known by the public-at-large as The
Foundation Trilogy. Even still, for maximum enjoyment you
should read books 9-15 in order. Since some well known Robots pop up
here, you should read books 1-5 (or 1-8) first.
- It is unfortunate that we cannot able to travel back in time to
convince Asimov to get 45 minutes of daily exercise so he could avoid
triple bypass surgery responsible for
infecting his blood with a deadly virus. I cannot imagine this
Forward the Foundation and now can only wonder about
what he had in mind for these other insertion points. Generally
speaking, Asimov fans have been very critical about the work done by
by Asimov's estate.
- If you are a hard sci-fi fan like me then
every one of these 15 books are worth reading. They seem to stand the
test of time and do not seem dated in any way. Click
www.bookfinder.com to locate
rare and out-of-print books (many titles are still being published
Isaac Asimov = Hari Seldon in
the Foundation Novels?
It has not escaped my attention
that "stumbling upon Asimov's suggested reading order in an original
book from 1988" is very much like "receiving a posthumous message from
Yes, Asimov still speaks to humanity today but I am certain he wouldn't
want you to turn his humanist / robotic philosophies into a religion
even though you could.
Behind the Foundation
From the introduction to "Foundation and Earth
Doubleday 1986 hardcover edition
On August 1, 1941, when I was a lad of
twenty-one, I was a graduate student in chemistry at Columbia University and
had been writing science fiction professionally for three years. I was
hastening to see John Campbell, editor of Astounding, to
whom I had sold five stories by then. I was anxious to tell him of a new
idea I had for a science fiction story.
It was to write a historical
novel of the future; to tell the story of the fall of the Galactic Empire.
My enthusiasm must have been catching, for Campbell grew as excited as I
was. He didn't want me to write a single story. He wanted a series of
stories, in which the full history of of the thousand years of turmoil
between the First Galactic Empire and the rise of the Second Galactic Empire
was to be outlined. It would all be illuminated by the science of
psychohistory that Campbell and I thrashed out between us.
The first story appeared in the May 1942 Astounding and
the second story appeared in the June 1942 issue. They were at once popular
and Campbell saw to it that I wrote six more stories before the end of the
decade. The stories grew longer too. The first one was only twelve thousand
words long. Two of the last three stories were fifty thousand words apiece.
By the time the decade was over, I had grown tired of the series, dropped
it, and went on to other things. By then, however, various publishing houses
were beginning to put out hardcover science fiction books. One such house
was a small semiprofessional firm, Gnome Press. They published my Foundation
Series in three volumes:
Foundation (1951); Foundation and Empire
(1952); and Second Foundation (1953). The three books
together came to be known as The Foundation Trilogy.
The books did not do very well, for Gnome Press did not have the capital
with which to advertise and promote them. I got neither statements nor
royalties from them.
In early 1961, my then-editor at Doubleday,
Timothy Seldes, told me he had received a request from a foreign publisher
to reprint the Foundation books. Since they were not Doubleday books, he
passed the request on to me. I shrugged my shoulders. "Not interested, Tim.
I don't get royalties on those books"
Seldes was horrified, and
instantly set about getting the rights to the books from Gnome Press (which
was, by that time, moribund), and in August of that year, the books (along
with "I, Robot") became Doubleday property.
From that moment on, the
Foundation series took off and began to earn increasing royalties. Doubleday
published the Trilogy in a single volume and distributed them through the
Science Fiction Book Club. Because of that the Foundation series became
enormously well known.
In the 1966 World Science Fiction Convention,
held in Cleveland, the fans were asked to vote on a category of "The Best
All-Time Series". It was the first time (and, so far, the last) the category
had been included in the nominations for the Hugo Award. The Foundation
Trilogy won the award, which further added to the popularity of the series.
Increasingly, fans kept asking me to continue the series. I was polite but I
kept refusing. Still, it fascinated me that people who had not been born
when the series was begun had managed to become caught up in it.
Doubleday, however, took the demands far more seriously that I did. They had
humored me for twenty years but as demands kept growing in intensity and
number, they finally lost patience. In 1981, they told me that I simply had
to write another Foundation novel and, in order to sugar-coat the demand,
offered me a contract at ten times my usual advance.
Nervously, I agreed. It had been thirty-two years since I had written a
Foundation story and now I was instructed to write one 140,000 words long,
twice that of any earlier volumes and nearly three times as long as any
previous individual story. I re-read The Foundation Trilogy
and, taking a deep breath, dived into the task.
The fourth book of
the series, Foundation's Edge, was published in October
1982, and then a very strange thing happened. It appeared in the New
York Times bestseller list at once. In fact, it stayed one that
list for twenty-five weeks, much to my utter astonishment. Nothing like that
had ever happened to me.
Doubleday at once signed me up to do
additional novels and I wrote two that were part of another series,
The Robot Novels. - And then it was time to return to the
So I wrote Foundation and Earth, which begins at the
very moment that Foundation's Edge ends, and that is the
book you now hold. It might help if you glanced over Foundation's
just to refresh your memory, but you don't have to, Foundation and
stands by itself. I hope you enjoy it.
New York City, 1986
- Local Links
- My own reviews of Asimov's-15 were deleted on 2016.12.25 because
Wikipedia does a better job (but if you really want to read them then
- See what Asimov had to say about
Protein Folding in 1990.
- Skip to my last "Isaac Asimov" paragraph
below to learn about Isaac Asimov's strange and tragic
death in 1992.
- Wikipedia Links
- Other Links
Some Useful Multimedia Links:
- Isaac Asimov on Bill Moyers World of Ideas
In 1988, Bill Moyers interviewed author Isaac Asimov for WORLD OF
IDEAS. Incredibly prolific in various genres beyond the science
fiction for which he was best known, Asimov wrote well over 400
books on topics ranging from sci-fi to the Bible before his death in
1992. In one thread of his wide-ranging interview, Asimov shared his
thoughts on overpopulation:
Bill Moyers: "What happens to the idea of the
dignity of the human species if this population growth continues at
its present rate?"
Isaac Asimov: "It will be
completely destroyed. I like to use what I call my bathroom
metaphor: If two people live in an apartment, and there are two
bathrooms, then both have freedom of the bathroom. You can go to the
bathroom anytime you want, stay as long as you want, for whatever
you need. And everyone believes in Freedom of the Bathroom; It
should be right there in the Constitution. But if you have twenty
people in the apartment and two bathrooms, then no matter how much
every person believes in Freedom of the Bathroom, there's no such
thing. You have to set up times for each person, you have to bang on
the door, 'Aren't you through yet?' And so on." Right now most of
the world is living under appalling conditions. We can't possibly
improve the conditions of everyone. We can't raise the entire world
to the average standard of living in the United States because we
don't have the resources and the ability to distribute well enough
for that. So right now as it is, we have condemned most of the world
to a miserable, starvation level of existence. And it will just get
worse as the population continues to go up... Democracy cannot
survive overpopulation. Human dignity cannot survive it. Convenience
and decency cannot survive it. As you put more and more people onto
the world, the value of life not only declines, it disappears. It
doesn't matter if someone dies. The more people there are, the less
one individual matters."
- Isaac Asimov - Threats to Humanity Part 1
Sad Information About Isaac Asimov's Death
In 2002-08-10 it was revealed by Dr. Asimov's widow, Dr. Janet Jeppson
Asimov, in the new biography It's Been a Good Life, that his
death was in fact due to AIDS. In 1983 he had triple bypass surgery and received
blood transfusions containing HIV. (Ironic that the city he loved was the cause
of his death; doubtless nowhere else in the United States had a higher incidence
of HIV in the blood supply than New York at that time.) As Dr. Jeppson Asimov
states, after his triple bypass "the next day he had a high fever... only years
later, in hindsight, did we realize that the post transfusion HIV infection had
taken hold." In the mid-Eighties Dr. Jeppson Asimov noted that her husband had
some AIDS symptoms and brought them to the attention of his internist and
cardiologist, who pooh-poohed and refused to test him. He was finally tested in
February of 1990, prior to further surgery, when he presented HIV-positive with
his T-cells half the normal level. The astonishing fact of Dr. Asimov's AIDS was
kept secret at the advice of his physicians - they apparently strong-armed him
in his sickbed with the threat that his wife would be shunned as a suspected PWA
(person with AIDS) as well. The secret was kept not till after Dr. Asimov's
death in 1992, nor till after the death of his widow and daughter (indeed they
are still alive), but till after the deaths of his physicians (see Dr. Jeppson
letter to Locus magazine). You can
draw your own conclusions, but that makes me feel that it was primarily the
physicians' reputations that were being protected by this secret.
So there you have it. The whole world has been deprived of probably another
dozen books by Isaac Asimov. In hind sight, we all should have convinced him
to diet and exercise so he could avoid both "the triple-bypass surgery" as
well as "the associated blood transfusions"
Caveat Section: start (runs for ~ 300 lines)
Caveat: Don't bother reading between the two orange
lines marked "caveat section". Some time after creating my own online review of
Isaac Asimov's books as I reread/read them in 2004, I discovered a much better
collection of reviews at Wikipedia.
Click: skip over this section.
My "Isaac Asimov" Book Reviews and
Most of the information comes from dust jackets or things I noticed while
re-reading the books in 2004.
to locate out-of-print books
Book-0 of Asimov's 15-book "boot up"
of Eternity (1955)
One hardcore Asimov fan told me this book was listed before all the others in
a recommended list published in Asimov's SF Magazine
- This book employs a lot of time travel to implement the
social engineering of humanity but somehow Asimov seems to make it work
- The first seventeen chapters are a good read but good turns into great
in eighteenth and last chapter which is titled "The Beginning of Infinity"
Here we are presented with a choice to stay with a conservative Eternity or
replace it with a progressive Infinity
- It is my belief (in 2014) that Asimov wanted to show us "that the
nudges given to humanity by Hari Seldon's time vault in the
Foundation Trilogy" were preferable to "the direct meddling by
the employees of Eternity". The Hari Seldon method
gives each one of us much more free will while dispensing with time
travel paradoxes and social engineering.
- When you think about it, an author's publications are a form of
one-way time travel or communication. Like Seldon, Asimov stories speak
to humanity long after his death.
- The very last act of meddling involves moving the discovery of
nuclear energy from the 30th century to the 20th
which also leaves the Earth's crust slightly radioactive; and now I am
recalling a little speech give by one R. Daneel Olivaw about how this
fact led to humanity leaving Earth
- "psycho-mathematics" first appears on page 13
- Time-line violations aside, Asimov was aware of the navigation
difficulties in travelling to a future-or-previous time on a moving Earth
(see quote from p.233 below)
- "Will you petter feel if I in your yourself dialect should speech,
poy?" on page 30
(possible translation: "will you feel better if I
speak to you in your own dialect, boy?)
- p.233: But the Earth moves about the Sun, and the Sun moves about
the Galactic Center and the Galaxy moves too"
- p.248: Any system which allows men to choose their own future, will
end by choosing safety and mediocrity, and in such a Reality the stars
are out of reach"
- A repackaging of nine previously published short stories presented as
the memoirs of robot psychologist Dr. Susan Calvin
- Everyone today must read chapters 8 + 9 ("Evidence"
and "The Evitable Conflict"). If I had any control over the matter,
these two chapters would be required reading in secondary school since they
are slightly more important to modern human culture as anything written by
William Shakespeare (and I highly value his creative efforts as well). Why
would I say this?
- Lessons found in Shakespeare's "The Merchant of Venice" teaches
humanity to despise anti-Semitism (which is morphs into teaching modern
people learning to be tolerant of everything).
- Although written under the guise of anti-robot bias, various Asimov
biographies indicate that "Evidence" was inspired by the author's
exposure to anti-Semitism during the second world war. The idea of a
lawyer wishing to avoid death penalties shows us what humans can aspire
to when they think a little more while emoting a little less. To me this
is "icing on the cake".
- The very brief history lesson found in Asimov's "The Evitable
Conflict" teaches us that wars are a complete waste of time. It also
teaches us to repress our emotions where politics and religion are
- Introduction (1950)
- The year is 2057 and Dr. Susan Calvin, chief robopsychologist
(programmer?) of "U.S. Robots and Mechanical Men Corporation" is about
to retire so a reporter is about to spend three days interviewing her
for a "Pop Ed" article. These stories are her memoirs.
- Chapter 1 -
- The story centers around the technophobia that surrounds robots, and
how it is misplaced. Almost all previously published science fiction
stories featuring robots followed the theme 'robot turns against
creator'; Asimov has consistently held the belief that the Frankenstein
complex was a misplaced fear, and the majority of his works attempted to
provide examples of the help that robots could provide humanity.
- Chapter 2 -
- problems pop up with mining robots deployed on the planet Mercury.
US Robot field engineers, Gregory Powel and Mike Donavan, are on site to
solve the problem.
- this is the very first story where we learn about Asimov's
3 Laws of
- Chapter 3 -
- Another story involving US Robot field engineers, Gregory Powel and
- QT (a.k.a. Cutie) doesn't believe he was assembled by the humans
currently in charge of "Solar Station 5" (robots are not allowed on
inhabited worlds so are manufactured in pieces on Earth then assembled
- in order to come to grips with this dilemma, QT reasons that there
must be a supreme creator for both men and machines
- Chapter 4 -
Catch That Rabbit
- Another story involving US Robot field engineers, Gregory Powel and
- problems pop up with DV-5 (Dave) mining robots deployed in the
- DV-5s have a personal initiative circuit which allow them to manage
other worker robots but computational overload causes a conflict with
the "3 laws of robotics"
- Chapter 5 -
- Through a fault in manufacturing, a robot, RB-34 (Herbie), is
created that has the ability to read minds. While the roboticists at
U.S. Robots and Mechanical Men are trying to analyze what happened and
why, the robot tells them what other people are thinking. But the First
Law still applies to this robot, and so it deliberately lies when
necessary to avoid hurting their feelings and to make people happy,
especially in terms of romance. However, by lying, it is hurting them
anyway. When it is confronted with this fact by Susan Calvin (to whom it
told a lie that was particularly painful to her when it was shown to be
false), the robot experiences an irresolvable logical conflict and
- Chapter 6 -
Little Lost Robot
- At Hyper Base, a military research station on an asteroid,
scientists are working to develop the hyperspace drive - a theme that is
explored and developed in several of Asimov's stories and mentioned in
the Empire and Foundation books. One of the researchers, Gerald Black,
loses his temper, swears at an NS-2 (Nestor) robot and tells the robot
to "....go lose yourself." Obeying the order literally, it hides itself.
It is then up to US Robots' Chief Robopsychologist Dr. Susan Calvin, and
Mathematical Director Peter Bogert, to find it. They even know exactly
where it is: in a room with 62 other physically identical robots.
- Chapter 7 -
Escape! (also known as
"Paradoxical Escape", 1947)
- "Consolidated Robots" (a competitor of US Robots and Mechanical Men)
burn out their master computer while trying to solve a problem during
the design of an inter-stellar engine (a.k.a. "warp drive"). So they
approach "U.S. Robots and Mechanical Men Corporation" with an offer of
- Should "U.S. Robots and Mechanical Men Corporation" risk the mental
health of their own computer?
- Question: If one and one half chickens lays one and one half eggs in
one and one half days, then how many eggs will 9 chickens lay in 9 days?
The Brain answered "fifty four"
- US Robot field engineers, Gregory Powel and Mike Donavan are coerced
into taking the new ship for a test ride.
- Note: it would appear that the development of warp travel in
this chapter is the basis for the expansion of humanity described in
Asimov's "Foundation and Empire" series
- Chapter 8 -
- Stephen Byerley is a lawyer, a successful, middle-aged prosecutor, a
humanitarian who never presses for the death penalty. He runs for Mayor
of New York City, but Francis Quinn's political machine smears him,
claiming that he is a humanoid robot (a machine built to look like a
human being). If this is true, the "Frankenstein complex" hysteria will
ruin his campaign, as of course, only human beings are allowed to run
for office. Quinn approaches U.S. Robots and Mechanical Men corporation,
the world's only supplier of positronic robot brains, and attempts to
persuade them that Byerley must be a robot. No one has ever seen Byerley
eat or sleep, Quinn reports.
- When confronted, Byerley responds with "I...I...a robot?"
(hence the name of the book)
- Chapter 9 -
- Consider relatively modern times. There were the series of dynastic
wars in the sixteenth to seventeenth centuries , when the most important
question in Europe was whether the houses of Hapsburg or Valois-Bourborn
were to rule the continent. It was one of those 'inevitable
conflicts', since Europe could obviously not exist half of one
and half of the other. Except that it did, and no war ever wiped out the
one and established the other, until the rise of a new social atmosphere
in France in 1789 tumbled first the Bourbons and, eventually, the
Hapsburgs down the dusty chute to history's incinerator.
- And in those same centuries there were the more barbarous religious
wars, which revolved about the important question of whether Europe was
to be Catholic or Protestant. Half and half she could not be. It was 'inevitable'
that the sword decide -- except that it didn't. In England, a new
industrialism was growing, and on the continent, a new nationalism. Half
and half Europe remains to this day and no one cares much.
- In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, there was a cycle of
nationalist-imperialist wars, when the most important question in the
world was which portion of Europe would control the economic resources
and consuming capacity of which portions of non-Europe. All non-Europe
obviously could not exist part English and part French and part German
and so on -- until the forces of nationalism spread sufficiently, so
that non-Europe ended what all the wars could not, and decided it could
exist quite comfortably all non-European.
- And so we have a pattern.
- In the twentieth century we started a new cycle of wars -- what
shall I call them? Ideological wars? The emotions of religion applied to
economic systems , rather than to extra-natural ones? Again the wars
were 'inevitable' and this time there were atomic
weapons, so that mankind could no longer live through its torment to the
inevitable wasting away of 'inevitability'.
- After the arrival of positronic robots and interplanetary travel, it
no longer seemed important whether the world was Adam Smith
or Karl Marx. So a world wide robot-coordinated economy
was developed which meant that countries would be dissolved and replaced
with informal economic regions:
|The Eastern Region
||China, India, Burma, Indo-China, Indonesia.
|The Tropic Region
||Capital City Nigeria
||South America north of Argentina, Africa south of the Atlas
Mountains, North America South of the Rio Grande, Arabia, Iran.
|The European Region
||Europe (including Scandinavia & Iceland but not Britain),
Mediterranean Africa and Argentina, Chile, Uruguay.
|The Northern Region
||North America North of the Rio Grande through to Russia (but
minus Europe), Britain, European Russia, Russia, Australia, New
|Earth (& Antarctica)
||a kind of UN of "Economic Regions"
- Each economic region is being managed by a Brain (a large positronic
brain without a robot body; e.g. a "thinking" mainframe computer) which
is governed by the
3 Laws of
- This is the humanity's most peaceful and economically productive
period in history but some people resent being told what to do by
computers so have joined organizations like "Society for Humanity" (an
- Recently, the Brains have made mistakes and some people are
beginning to suspect that the robots (and Brains) are evolving. This
means that the "First Law of Robotics" may have changed! (or the robots
may be interpreting it differently). Click
for more details.
- It seems that Asimov predicted the formation of economic
associations ("free trade zones") which should help tamp down
nationalistic pride. It is too bad that he missed the prediction of
European Economic Community.
- Is a population of 3.3 Billion an underestimate or did Asimov
assume that humans would be limiting their numbers?
- In 1950 it must have made sense that Britain would be part of
the Northern Region. Obviously joint projects like the
relations between Britain and France so today Brits would probably
prefer to be associated with Europe.
- Asimov's idea to use computers to optimize human economies sound
somewhat close to this
- Click here for
information about the 2004 movie
I, Robot which was not based upon any of Asimov's stories but was
based upon his characters
Robot Trilogy (a.k.a. Elijah Baley Detective Series)
Caves of Steel
The Naked Sun
- Planet: EARTH
Crisis: Dr. Roj Nemennuh Sarton, the
preeminent roboticist, is murdered in Spacetown
The fragile relationship between Earth and Space depends upon Lije (Elijah)
Baley's speedy solving of the case. But that's not the worst of it. Lije is
paired with investigator R. (for Robot) Daneel Olivaw. And Lije dislikes
robots deeply, almost pathologically.
- In this novel, Isaac Asimov first introduced Elijah Baley and R. Daneel
Olivaw, who would later become his favorite protagonists. They live roughly
three millennia in Earth's future, a time when hyperspace travel has been
discovered, and a few worlds relatively close to Earth have been colonized —
fifty planets known as the "Spacer worlds". The Spacer worlds are rich, have
low population density (average population of one hundred million each), and
use robot labor very heavily. Meanwhile, Earth is overpopulated (with a
total population of eight billion), and strict rules against robots have
been passed. The eponymous "caves of steel" are vast city complexes covered
by huge metal domes, capable of supporting tens of millions each. The New
York City of that era, for example, encompasses present-day New York City,
as well as large tracts of New Jersey.
- The book's central crime is a murder, which takes place before the novel
opens. (This is an Asimovian trademark, which he attributed to his own
squeamishness and John Campbell's advice of beginning as late in the story
as possible.) Roj Nemmenuh Sarton, a Spacer Ambassador, lives in Spacetown,
the Spacer outpost just outside New York City. For some time, he has tried
to convince the Earth government to loosen its anti-robot restrictions. One
morning, he is discovered outside his home, his chest imploded by an energy
blaster. The New York police commissioner charges Elijah with finding the
murderer. Elijah must work with a Spacer partner, a highly advanced robot
who is visually identical to a human, named R. Daneel Olivaw, even though
Elijah, like many Earth residents, has a low opinion of robots. Together,
they search for the murderer and try to avert an interstellar diplomatic
- Population of Earth:
- Humans: 8,000,000,000 (almost all live underground)
- Robots: a minimal number to run the farms; almost all live on the
- Excerpt from page 28: Efficiency had been forced on Earth with
increasing population. Two billion people, three billion, even
five billion could be supported by the planet by progressive lowering of the
standard of living. When the population reaches eight billion,
however, semi starvation becomes too much like a real thing. A radical
change had to take place in man's culture, particularly when it turned out
that the Outer Worlds (which had merely been Earth's colonies a thousand
years before) were tremendously serious in their immigration restrictions.
- So Earthers created Cities (the capital "C" means we are talking about a
machine version of a "city") and robots. While most people accepted Cities,
a small group of people known as "the Medievalists" were opposed to them.
- Baley had read somewhere once that Spacers had no religion, but
substituted, instead, a cold and phlegmatic intellectualism raised to the
heights of a philosophy.
- Excerpt from page 110: Earthmen are all so coddled, so enwombed in their
imprisoning caves of steel (under ground apartments), that
they are caught [on Earth] forever.
- Malthusian: of or pertaining to the theories of Thomas. R. Malthus,
which state that population tends to increase faster, at a geometrical rate,
than the means of subsistence, which increases at an arithmetical rate, and
that this will result in an inadequate supply of the goods supporting life
unless war, famine, or disease reduces the population or the increase of
population is checked. Comment: The publications of Malthus
had a profound influence upon Charles Darwin.
- The character Dr. Gerrigel uses the term "Asenion" to describe robots
programmed with the Three Laws. The robots in Asimov's stories, being
Asenion robots, are incapable of knowingly violating the Three Laws but, in
principle, a robot in science fiction or in the real world could be
non-Asenion. "Asenion" is a misspelling of the name Asimov which was made by
an editor of the magazine
Planet Stories. Asimov used this obscure variation to
insert himself into The Caves of Steel in much the same way
appeared in Lolita
disguised as "Vivian Darkbloom".
- Speculation about names: Asimov tells us that Lije is short for Elijah
while Jessie is short for Jezebel, and that the names are derived from Old
Testament stories. I have always wondered why the humaniform "Spacer" robot
was named Daneel. The only thing that comes to mind is the Old Testament
story of Daniel.
According to the biblical book, at a young age Daniel was carried off to
Babylon where he became famous for interpreting dreams and rose to become
one of the most important figures in the court. COMMENT: In
this light, Daniel was a bridge between backward Judea and modern Babylon
- Asimov mentions that Terries (humans living on Earth) are engaged in a
C/Fe (pronounced "see-fee") culture clash. "C" represents carbon while "Fe"
represents iron (see
periodical table of
chemical elements). I guess today we would use the phrase C/Si.
of Dawn (1983)
- Planet: SOLARIA
Crisis: Rikaine Delmarre, husband of
the beautiful Gladia, is found brutally murdered while, apparently, attended
by only his robots.
Problem: On Solaria, the few
inhabitants have isolated themselves from one another for so long that they
find direct physical contact with fellow human beings intensely
uncomfortable. By virtue of their programming, robots are incapable of
harming a human being, and cannot permit harm to come to a human. Yet, no
evidence of a murder weapon was found. Who could have done it? How? And why?
- Like its predecessor, The Caves of Steel, it is a whodunit story, in
addition to being science fiction. The book was first published in 1957
after being serialized in Astounding Science Fiction between October and
December 1956. The story arises from the murder of Rikaine Delmarre, a
prominent "fetologist" (fetal scientist, responsible for the operation of
the planetary birthing center reminiscent of those described in Aldous
Huxley's Brave New World) of Solaria, a planet politically hostile to Earth.
Elijah Baley is called in to investigate, at the request of the Solarian
government. He is again partnered with the humaniform robot R. Daneel
Olivaw. Before leaving Earth, he is asked by Earth's government to assess
the Solarian society for weaknesses.
- Population of Solaria:
- Humans: 20,000 maximum (reproduction is enforced by the local
government and immigration is not allowed)
- Robots: 200,000,000 (10,000 robots for every human; robots are used
to exploit this planet's natural resources and manufacture products for
- Asimov tells us that each Solarian robot has a unique shoulder patch
consisting of six-by-six gold-and-silver checkerboard, and "that the number
of possible arrangements would be 236 then, or 70 billion". I
found it strange that he didn't use the phrase "a little less than 70
billion" since the actual number is closer to 68.7 billion :-)
- Planet: AURORA
Crisis: Roboticide: Jander Panell,
one of the two most advanced robots yet assembled - a twin to R. Daneel
Olivaw - is murdered
Problem: Only the gifted roboticist
Han Fastolfe had the means, the motive, and the opportunity to commit the
crime - and Baley must prove him innocent if the overcrowded Earth is ever
to have access to space and the resources it needs.
- The book opens with detective Elijah Baley on Earth, training with his
son and others to tolerate the outside, in spite of their socially ingrained
agoraphobia. He is ordered to go to the police headquarters where he is told
that the Spacer world of Aurora has requested his presence to solve a crime.
He is told that the mind of R. Jander Panell, a humaniform robot identical
to R. Daneel Olivaw, has been destroyed via a mental block—"roboticide", as
Baley later terms it. The robot's inventor, Han Fastolfe, has been
implicated. Fastolfe, who was last seen in The Caves of Steel,
is the best roboticist on Aurora. He has admitted that he is the only person
with the skill to have done it, although he denies doing it. Fastolfe is
also a prominent member of the Auroran political faction that favors Earth.
Implication in the crime threatens his political career; therefore, it is
politically expedient that he be exonerated.
- Population of Aurora:
- Humans: 200 million maximum (reproduction is enforced by the local
government and immigration is restricted)
- Robots: 10 billion (50 robots for every human; every human possesses
at least one robot as a personal servant; most robots are used in the
areas of: farms, mines, factories, space)
- Aurora was initially named New Earth but since this was the first extra
Spacer world represented "the dawn of a new age" they changed the name to
Aurora (which is the roman god of Dawn). So the title really means "The
Robots of Aurora"
- Notable changes in Asimov's writing:
- Asimov is now using the metric system (but metric time is only used
in the 50 off-world colonies; 10 metric hours a day; 100 metric minutes
per hour; 100 metric seconds per minute = 100,000 metric seconds per day
compared to our 86,400 seconds per day)
- Asimov now speaks about robot programming (earlier works only spoke
of robot psychologists)
- Asimov now mentions that smoking tobacco is banned in all off-world
colonies but still allowed on Earth (this might be "one" reason why
Earthers have such a short lifetime compared to Spacers
- Notable connections to other books:
- Dr. Han Fastolfe:
- mentions that of all the 50 "spacer worlds", only Aurora had
come closest to implementing the Three Laws of
as the Three Laws of Humanics.
- speaks of his intention to possibly create a new science called
Psychohistory (Foundation Trilogy)
- mentions the legends of:
- Susan Calvin and a not-so-truthful "mind reading" robot
(Story of "Liar!" found in "I, Robot")
- Andrew Martin (Bicentennial Man)
- General comments
- Robots on Earth only have a single name (R. Sammy, R. Geronimo)
while Spacer robots have two (R. Daneel Olivaw, R. Giskard Reventlov, R.
Jander Panell, R. Ernett Second (introduced in Robots and Empire))
- There are only two humaniform robots in existence at this time:
Daneel Olivaw and Jander Panell.
- Dr. Fastolf tells us that humaniform robot bodies were developed in
order to improve positronic brains
Fourth book of the Robot Trilogy :-) (not part of the Elijah Baley Detective
- Asimov says to read this one after Robots of Dawn
- From the 1985 hard cover dust jacket: [snip]
For it not only presents the thrilling sequel to the best-selling "The
Robots of Dawn", but also ingeniously interweaves al three of Asimov's
classic series: "Robot", "Foundation", and "Empire". [snip] Two hundred
years have passed since "The Robots of Dawn" and Elijah Baley, the beloved
hero of the Earth-people, is dead. The future of the Universe is at a
crossroads. Though the forces of the sinister Spacers are weakened, Dr.
Keldon Amadiro has never forgotten - or forgiven - his humiliating defeat at
the hands of Elijah. Now, with vengeance burning in his heart, he is more
determined than ever to bring about the total annihilation of planet Earth.
But Amadiro has not counted on the equally determined Lady Gladia. Devoted
to (the memory of) Elijah Baley, the Auroran beauty has taken up the legacy
of her fallen lover, vowing to stop the Spacers at any cost. With her two
robot companions, Daneel and Giskard, she prepares to set into motion a
daring and dangerous plan... a plan whose success - or failure - will
forever seal the fate of Earth and all who live there. [snip]
- excerpt from page 66: Daneel said, "The picture
you draw is attractive. It would make Partner Elijah proud of us if, as you
say, we have accomplished that. 'Robots and Empire'
Elijah would say and perhaps he would clap me on the shoulder. -- And yet,
as I said, I am uneasy friend Giskard.
- excerpt from page 186: If emotions are few and
reasons are many, the behavior of a crowd can be more easily predicted than
the behavior of one person can. And that, in turn, means that if the laws
are to be developed that enable the current of history the be predicted,
then one must deal with the large populations, the larger the better. That
might itself be the First Law of Psychohistory, the key to
the study of
- Notable connections to other books:
- Under Secretary of Energy, Sophia Quintana, mentions the legend of
robot-politician Stephen Byerley (I, Robot)
More Robot Stories
of Robots (1964)
Bicentennial Man (short story, 1975)
Galactic Empire Series
Pebble in the Sky
The Stars, Like
The Currents of
- due to an experimental accident at a university across town, a tailor
steps hundreds of years into the future
- a nearly naked man with no memory is found laying in a field
- Chapter 1: 32-year-old Hari Seldon presents a
paper outlining the possibility of psychohistory; the emperor hears about
this and wants Hari to say "that psychohistory predicted a peaceful and
prosperous future for the galactic empire".
- Chapters 91-94: This book ends with a double plot
twist in these final chapters; obviously readers have different opinions
when it comes entertainment, but it is my opinion that this might be one of
Asimov's best books (provided you previously read the first five books of
the Robot Series")
- This book spans approximately one year of time
Second Foundation Trilogy (commissioned by the Asimov estate after
In the 'Second Foundation' trilogy, a series of books authorized by the
estate of Asimov, a race of Aliens within the Foundation Universe is
mentioned who appear to be in circumstances similar to the Cepheids.
Although they are not mentioned by name, a major character in this story is.
A subplot in
Foundation's Triumph investigates the problem raised in this story.
- Foundation's Fear (1997) by Gregory Benford
- Foundation and Chaos (1998) by Greg Bear
- Foundation's Triumph (1999) by David Brinn
- This book is a continuation of Prelude to Foundation and is
Asimov's last publication before his death in
- Part 1 (Eto Demerzel) - Chapter 1: Eight years
have passed since the end of Prelude to Foundation. Hari Seldon has
just turned 40. Hari and Dors are married and living with their adopted son
Raych. The Emperor finds it impossible to believe that psychohistory is not
ready after 8 years of research
- Part 2 (Cleon I) - Chapter 1: Ten years have
passed since he end of the previous chapter. Hari is ~50 years old. Part 2
spans ~10 years.
- Part 3 (Dors Venabili) - Chapter 1: Hari is ~60
- Part 4 (Wanda Seldon) - Chapter 1: Hari is ~70
- Part 5 (Epilogue) - The only chapter: Hari is 81
years old and is in the middle of preparing a final holo-recording for
posterity. The crisis-holograms were finished one month earlier. This is
followed by Hari's obituary in the Encyclopedia Galactica.
- From the rear dust jacket:
"I could not have written this book forty or thirty, twenty, or even ten
years ago. That is because, piece by piece, over the years I have been
working back to Foundation's source: Hari Seldon. Today I enjoy the gift
of been given time: Experience (some might call it wisdom, but I will
refrain from such self-aggrandizement). For it is only now that I am
able to give my readers Hari Seldon during the most crucial, creative
years of his life.. You see, over time, Hari Seldon has evolved into my
alter ego... In my earlier books Hari Seldon was the stuff of legend -
with Forward the Foundation
I have made him real.
-- Isaac Asimov, June 1991
- In many ways this book is sad because you can sense that the author
knows he is dying while he devises an end-of-life story for Hari Seldon.
Also, Hari Seldon (a.k.a. Asimov) points out symptoms of a dying empire
which are visible everywhere today in 2004 and I'm afraid the world is
descending into a
Blade Runner kind
of future. Let's hope it doesn't descend further into something like
The book series started as a series of nine short stories, eight of which were
published in Astounding Science Fiction 4 magazine between May
1942 and January 1950, and a ninth which was written a few years later when the
series was first published in book form. The stories vary in length from about
7,000 words to about 50,000 words. The early stories are very closely based on
The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (Asimov said he did
"a little bit of cribbin' from the works of Edward
Gibbon" when describing the influence of that work on the Trilogy).
The holographic image of
appears at various times in the First Foundation's history, to guide it
through the social and economic crises that befall it.
- Part 1 - The Psychohistorians
Excerpt from the Encyclopedia Galactica
Seldon, born in the 11,988th year of the Galactic Era, perfects a branch
of social mathematics called "psychohistory" which can predict the
future actions of humanity 3
. He sees that the Galactic
empire is about to collapse which could result in a 30,000 year age of
darkness, so develops a plan to reduce this dark age to only 1,000
(comment: once you view this
you begin to wonder if psychohistory might be possible some
- Part 2 - The Encyclopedists
- Part 3 - The Mayors
- Part 4 - The Traders
- Part 5 - The Merchant Princes
- Part 1 - The General
- Part 2 - The Mule
- Part 1 - Search by the Mule
- Part 2 - Search by the Foundation
In 1982, following a thirty-year hiatus, Asimov gave in and wrote what was at
the time a fourth volume: Foundation's Edge. This was followed shortly
thereafter by Foundation and Earth. Foundation and Earth (which takes
place some 500 years after Seldon) ties up all the loose ends, but opens a brand
new line of thought in the last dozen pages. As a result, many fans (wanting a
tidy end to the series) consider this finale to be a failure. According to his
widow Janet Asimov (in her biography of him, It's Been a Good Life), he
had no idea how to continue after Foundation and Earth, so he started
- Chapter 1: It has been ~500 years since the death
of Hari Seldon and the planet Terminus (home of the first Foundation) is
preparing for his next hologram-appearance
- This book is a continuation of Foundation's Edge but seems better
- It will be most enjoyable if you've already read the Robot Trilogy
and Robots and Empire.
- Initially written as a series of short stories based on Edward Gibbon's
The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.
- Rereading this book in early 2004 was somewhat refreshing. Except for
occasional references to "smoking tobacco" or "non-metric measurements", the
material does not appear to be dated in any way.
- I wonder if this idea is an extrapolation of the investment science of
"technical analysis" which attempts to predict the future actions of the
- "Astounding Science Fiction" was renamed "Analog Science Fiction" in
Isaac Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics
(From the 1942 short story "Runaround")
- A robot may not injure a human being, or, through inaction, allow a
human being to come to harm.
- A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such
orders would conflict with the First Law.
- A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does
not conflict with the First or Second Law.
here for two possible fourth law of robotics
- Click here for the official
law of robotics (hinted at in many stories but formalized in Robots
Note: In Isaac Asimov's book "It's Been A Good Life", Isaac states that
publisher John W.
deserves joint credit in the creation of the Asimov's Three Laws
Isaac Asimov's Three Laws of Humanity (From the 1946 short story "Evidence")
Because, if you stop to think of it, the three Rules of Robotics are the
essential guiding principles of a good many of the world's ethical systems.
- Of course, every human being is supposed the have the extinct
of self-preservation. That's Rule Three to a robot.
- Also every 'good' human being, with a social conscience and a
sense of responsibility, is supposed to defer to proper authority; to listen
to his doctor, his boss, his government, his psychiatrist, his fellow man;
to obey laws, to follow rules, to conform to custom -- even when they
interfere with his comfort or his safety. That's Rule Two
to a robot.
- Also, every 'good' human being is supposed to love others as
himself, protect his fellow man, risk his life to save another. That's
to a Robot 1
To put it simply -- if Byerley follows all the Rules of Robotics,
he may be a robot, OR 2 may simply be a very good man.
- I wonder how many humans would support the zeroth law? Stephen Byerley
is elected mayor at the end of "Evidence" but reappears as World Coordinator
in "The Evitable Conflict" and I suspect he rises to that position for just
- Asimov wrote "AND" but anyone familiar with Boolean logic knows he meant
"OR" (providing he was using Boolean logic :-)
- According to a quote by Dr. Fastolfe in Robots of Dawn, the planet
Aurora is the Spacer world that has come closest to implementing the
Three Laws of Robotics as the Laws of Humanics.
It's Been a Good Life (2002)
- A biography of Isaac Asimov edited by his second wife, Janet Jeppson
- Chapter Titles:
"Russia", "The United States",
"City Child", "Religion", "Prodigy", "Becoming a Writer", "Science-Fiction
Fan", "Starting to Write Science Fiction", "Writing Progress", "Famous
Fiction", "During the War", "Postwar, and the Army", "Becoming a Ph.D.",
"Postdoc", "Teaching, Writing, Speaking", "Beyond Limitations", "Limitations
Came", "Going On", "Major Nonfiction", "Writing and Thinking About Writing",
"On Prolificacy", "On Writers' Problems", "Miscellaneous Opinions and
Quirks", "Sexism and Love", "Life While Famous", "The Bible", "Changes",
"Shakespeare", "New Experiments in Writing", "More Working With Words",
"Isaac, Himself", "More on Writing", "Heart Attack", "Extending Two Series",
"Triple Bypass", "Humanists", "Senior Citizen and Honors", "Working on in
Appendix A. "Essay 400" - A Way of
Appendix B. Isaac's Personal Favorite: "The Last Question"
Appendix C. Bibliography of Works by Isaac Asimov
Caveat Section: End
(started ~300 lines up)
Star Trek fan reboot
- No one can deny that
Trek: TOS (the original series) introduced the public-at-large to
science fiction so I still do not understand why Gulf+Western (which
in 1967 then renamed it Paramount) did not do a better job funding writers
and set designers. They owned the goose that laid golden eggs
(to quote Aesop) but only fed it a substandard diet.
- The infighting associated with
Trek: TNG (my favorite series) is well known especially after watching a
recent William Shatner documentary titled
Chaos on the Bridge but I am certain that most sci-fi fans only
recognize half of these episodes as true sci-fi
- Star Trek:
Enterprise showed promise but I have no idea what the hell happened to
Trek: DS9 and
Star Trek: Voyager. I watched ever episode hoping for more sci-fi but it
seemed like Hollywood was cranking out Star Trek episodes the way that
butchers crank out sausage
- Everyone reading this already knows about the Star Trek movie
odd-number curse and most would agree with it being a writing
problem. You can spend all the time you want reediting a movie, or adding
more CGI, but if the story sucks the movie will be much less profitable (for
proof: just look to the successful comics which have zero CGI). I wonder
what would a
Ferengi say about that?
- Speaking about lack of sci-fi stories, did Hollywood really think
rebooting Star Trek with in an alternate universe with a younger Kirk and
Spock (Star Trek:
2009) or Khan in 2013 (Star_Trek_Into_Darkness)
would be desirable or successful? Both stories have plot holes large enough
to fly a Star Ship through. And do we really need to recycle these
- Apparently fan-based Star Trek creations (none of which are allowed to
make a profit since Star Trek is a registered product currently owned by
CBS) have stumbled onto the missing ingredient:
- Since the advent of Kickstarter
to acquire alternate funding, and YouTube to serve up content, I have been
very pleased with this unexpected new direction for the Star Trek cultural
phenomenon. Here are a few of many:
- Star Trek Axanar
minutes; this is a must-watch; the full movie will be out early
- Update -2016: Oops, no full movie yet
because CBS is suing Axanar Productions for copyright
violation. This makes no sense whatsoever. If CBS executives
they would divert the money for this lawsuit toward
licensing Axanar for viewing on their network or
- features many actors from Battlestar Galactica
- Star Trek Continues
- Star Trek New Voyages
- previously known as "Star Trek: Phase 2" but this conflicted
with "Star Trek Phase II" which was an official Gene Roddenberry
- Star Trek Renegades
- Star Trek2
TRON (actually Science-Fantasy, but still cool)
TRON (1982 movie)
TRON is probably the best science-fantasy computer theme ever made into a movie
(what else would you expect from Disney?). People studying computer science,
working in IS/IT, or just hacking will recognize many more metaphors. This must
be why TRON is an underground cult classic with computer engineering students.
TRON uses the I/O tower to
communicate with his user,
(Here is my disc)
- In the early days of computing many video terminals had TRON
(trace on) and TROF (trace off) keys
- In the early days of BASIC interpreter programming, the developer could
issue TRON and TROFF commands at the command prompt prior to using a RUN
command. Later, some BASIC dialects allowed tracing to be enabled/disabled
by inserting TRON control statements within the source program.
- In the 1970s and 1980s,
running the RSX-11M
operating system signaled readiness to the operator with an MCR>
MCR is an acronym for Monitor Console Routine.
In the movie TRON, the computer's operating system is the MCP
which stands for Master Control Program.
Coincidence? I doubt it.
p.s. in the movie, the MCP was always seen rotating (even when it
appeared to stop and stare at TRON). In a single CPU system only one
process (program instance) can run at any time. So the OS runs a
process which allocates a small slice of time (10-100 mS) to each
waiting user process. A programmable RTC (real time clock) interrupted
the active thread (putting the just-running-process back to sleep) then
handing control back to the scheduler. The scheduler would then rotate
to the next waiting process.
Memorable Lines (and more trivia):
- Who does he calculate he is?
- rather than "who does he think he is?"
- Can I merge with this memory? Bit?
- CLU "polling" the bit; only assembly-language programmers will know
what this means
- Oh my User.
- Video game warriors leaving the game grid...This is an illegal
- in modular programming one needs to leave a program, routine,
subroutine, or function, through a planned exit point. If you just jump
out in the middle (spaghetti code), or crash out (stack dump), or fault
out (illegal instruction), or bounce out (noise on the address bus
lines), then you have experienced an illegal exit.
(well to be honest, spaghetti code isn't illegal as much as bad form)
- We had better! Null Unit...
- on some systems null units were device drivers with no attached
device. They were an aid to learning how to program; they were also a
convenient way to delete data by copying to null. On PDP and VMS systems
this device had the name "NL:"
- Targets leaving protected field.
- a protected field can either refer to a protected memory location
(you are only able to access it if you have the necessary privileges) or
a protected field in a database or an on-screen form.
|The Personification of Software
||Bruce Boxleitner (Captain John Sheridan in
Dr. Walter Gibbs
Roy "RAM" Kleinberg
(never seen in the movie)
Mr. Henderson, a
full branch manager
(never seen in the movie)
|Peter Jurasik (Ambassador Londo Molari in
||CGI (computer generated graphics)
||CGI (computer generated graphics)
||CGI (computer generated graphics)
||??? (system monitors?)
||CGI (computer generated graphics)
||??? (part of the scheduler?)
||CGI (computer generated graphics)
More Thoughts (comparing the real world to the computer paradigm)
The earliest developers of any OS (operating system) write the device-driver
software. So it makes sense that Walter Gibbs would appear as the I/O tower
guardian since that I/O Device driver would probably have been written by him.
- Real-world biological viruses come in two major
- An DNA virus
is a virus that has DNA as its genetic material and replicates using
a DNA-dependent DNA polymerase.
- An RNA virus
is a virus that has RNA as its genetic material
- most RNA
employ RNA to stop a cell dead in its tracks then hijack cell
organelles (like the ribosome) to make more copies of the virus. One
example is influenza.
- A retrovirus
is an RNA virus that is replicated in a host cell via the enzyme
reverse transcriptase to produce DNA from its RNA genome. The DNA is
then incorporated into the host's genome by an integrase enzyme. The
virus thereafter replicates as part of the host cell's DNA.
Retroviruses are enveloped viruses that belong to the viral family
Retroviridae (e.g. HIV,
the virus that causes AIDS).
- Real-world computer viruses comes in multiple forms
mimicking biological viruses
- one type of virus will highjack your whole machine
- one type of virus will highjack an individual program (like a
- one type of virus will copy itself into other software (like a
retrovirus) so normal program operation will also quietly propagate
viral copies which may express itself later or elsewhere (think
- Medical researchers tell us that 20% of all cancers are caused by
viruses (HPV is one
- Cancer is best described as individual cells starting doing their
own thing rather than being part of a cooperative whole (perhaps cells
"forget their current function" or "are incapable of communicating with
neighboring cells which is necessary to be part of a cooperative
- So if cancer is best defined as a move from "being part of a
cooperative" to "cells doing their own thing", then isn't this a
real-world example of deresolution (derezing)?
TRON: Legacy (2010 movie)
It seems me that corners were cut in the TRON: Legacy
storyline. What's up with movie producers these days? Don't they realize that without a
perfect story there will be no market to fleece for the next 10-20 years? (witness Star Wars Prequel
and Blade Runner to only name two of many). I watched TRON: Legacy
in 3d and although the graphics were superb, the story was no where near as
good as the original TRON movie from 1982.
A writer once told me "if it wont work on the page then it
wont work on the stage"
My advice to sci-fi movie producers: only allow comic book people to write
your screen plays and have them do all the story-boarding in a comic book
If the story won't work in a comic book (where there is no CGI to lean on)
then the movie will not work on the silver screen or anywhere else.
|CLU (Codified Likeness Utility)
TRON: Evolution (2010 game)
Graphic Novels (Comic Books)
A few (of many) responsible for warping my brain.
Magnus, Robot Fighter 4000 AD
- a 1963 comic book set in the year 4000. People sat around getting fat
while robot servants tended to their every need
- So you are recalling your sci-fi youth and wouldn't mind rereading
Magnus, Robot Fighter 4000 A.D. but don't want to
buy expensive plastic-wrapped originals so what do you do? It turns out that
a really cool company called Dark Horse
has republished the first 21
Magnus issues in three hard-cover books on high quality paper (:
- Volume-1 contains Magnus, Robot Fighter comic book issues
01-07 (1963-02-xx to 1964-08-xx) 205 pages
- Also available from this on-line retailer:
Things From Another World
- Also contains a Russ Manning biography
- click this
preview and you'll see Asimov's
First Law of Robotics in the
- many of these stories seem to be the basis for many other sci-fi
- The Matrix
- Story #1 tells how one robot kidnapped 1,000 people then
connected them electronically to form a giant computer. In
the Matrix, all of humanity is connected to a computer to
keep us dreaming while our bodily fluids are drained off to
run a power plant.
- Star Trek: TOS (The Original Series)
- Magnus is replaced with a robot equivalent then other
people don't know which one is human as is seen in the
What Are Little Girls Made Of?
- Magnus is beamed 60,000 light years (through sub-space)
to the robot planet called Malev-6 and then is taken captive
by installing a remote-controlled metal ring around his neck
as is seen in the episode
The Gamesters of Triskelion
- The robot planet of MALEV-6 was created 1,500 galactic
years ago when a robot ship crash landed. Over the eons,
hard radiation from Malev corrupted/modified the ship's self
repair system. This is a variation of the story present in
- humans are too dependent on robots as is seen in the
- although the evil genius-scientist Xyrkol is human with
a beard, he does have a prominent set of pointed ears which
look just like those on Mr. Spock.
- Babylon 5
- the last story tells us how the 1,000 people from the
first story are telepathic (were they selected as computer
processors because they were telepaths, or did they become
telepathic as a result of the experience?) and how they all
held hands to increase their psychokinetic powers so they
can assist Magnus on Malev-6. This sounds just like
something that happened in Babylon-5 episode
Race Through Dark Places"
- Volume-2 contains Magnus, Robot Fighter comic book issues
08-14 (1964-11-xx to 1966-05-xx) 197 pages
- Volume-3 contains Magnus, Robot Fighter comic book issues
15-21 (1966-08-xx to 1968-02-xx) 176 pages
- Even though I read this stuff 40 years ago, I remember some of
the artwork including one scene where robots are feeding morbidly
- Story #21 ("Space Specter" which was published 1968-02-xx) is
about an attack on North Am which affects everyone except
descendants of Blackfoot Indians. Magnus uses their help to defeat
the alien presence affect two robot geniuses. This story caused me
to recall the Star Trek episode titled
Paradise Syndrome which aired 1968-08-1
Space Family Robinson
- this 1962 Gold
Key Comics publication was based upon the Disney movie "Swiss Family
Robinson". This comic was later turned into the disappointing TV program "Lost
in Space". The comic was serious sci-fi but the TV program was some sort
of bad joke.
- Interocitor @
- Click here to
see the Interocitor I built in 2002
- Visit my Blade Runner
- Klaatu's Speech: I am leaving soon and you'll forgive me if I
speak bluntly. The universe grows smaller every day and the threat of
aggression by any group anywhere can no longer be tolerated. There must be
security for all or no one is secure. Now this does not
mean giving up any freedom, except the freedom to act irresponsibly.
Your ancestors knew this when they made laws to govern themselves and hired
policemen to enforce them. We, of the other planets, have long accepted this
principle. We have an organization for the mutual protection of all planets
and for the complete elimination of aggression. The test of any such higher
authority is, of course, the police force that supports it. For our
policemen we created a race of robots. Their function is to patrol the
planets in spaceships like this one and preserve the peace. In matters of
aggression we have given them absolute power over us. This power cannot be
revoked. At the first signs of violence they act automatically against the
aggressor. The penalty for provoking their action is too terrible to risk.
The result is we live in peace without arms or armies, secure in the
knowledge that we are free from aggression and war, free to pursue more
profitable enterprises. Now, we do not pretend to have achieved perfection,
but we do have a system, and it works. I came here to give you these facts.
It is no concern of ours how you run your own planet, but if you threaten to
extend your violence, this Earth of yours will be reduced to a burned-out
cinder. Your choice is simple: join us and live in peace, or pursue your
present course and face obliteration. We shall be waiting for your answer.
The decision rests with you.
- As George Winston, the beleaguered hero of
George Orwell's "1984", leafed through Emmanuel Goldstein's subversive
tract "The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism" he learns the
rationale that underlies the mobilization for perpetual
war. According to the principles of doublethink (synonym for American
Neo-Con Newspeak?), Winston reads, it does not matter if the war is not real
or real, victory is not possible – what matters is that the masses are kept
are kept in a relative state of deprivation. Thus the purpose of war is to
destroy surplus wealth (+US$400 Billion in Iraq?) in order to maintain the
hierarchical structure of society – the status quo. As George Orwell baldly
puts it, "A hierarchical society is only possible on the basis of poverty
and ignorance. In principle the war effort is always planned to keep society
on the brink of starvation - the war is waged by the
ruling group against its own subjects and its object is not the
victory over either Eurasia or east Asia but to keep the very structure of
society in tact"
- 1984 by
George Orwell: A searchable online version at The Literature Network
- The Complete Newspeak
- Art imitates Life:
Sonny: I just might
get to like this place. Let's see if the Braves are on. How do you turn on
this here teevee?
Sonny: Yeah, boob-tube... you know. I'd like to find out how the
Braves are doin' after all this time. Probably still finding ways to lose.
Data to Riker: Oh -- I think he means television, sir.
Or maybe catch up on the soaps.
Data to Sonny: That particular
form of entertainment did not last much beyond the year Two Thousand Forty.
STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION - Episode 126 - Titled: "The Neutral Zone"
Reality: Television died in 2004; not 2040
Reason: in order to maximize their profits, the networks decided
to replace programs based upon "professional writing and acting" with
"so-called Reality TV"
- Cool quote from Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones:
00:12:24 I'd much rather dream about Padmé.
00:12:27 Just being
around her again is... intoxicating.
00:12:31 Be mindful of your
thoughts, Anakin. They betray you.
00:12:34 You've made a commitment
to the Jedi order, a commitment not easily broken.
00:12:38 And don't forget, she's a politician, and they're not to be
00:12:41 [ Anakin ] She's not like the others in the senate,
00:12:44 [ Obi-Wan ] It is my experience that senators...
00:12:46 focus only on pleasing those who fund their campaigns...
00:12:50 and they're in no means scared of forgetting the niceties of
00:12:53 -in order to get those funds. - Not another
00:12:55 At least not on the economics of politics.
- First a little
Star Wars movie
history: The first three movies (SW1-3 :: 1977-1983 :: EP4-6) are titled
episodes 4-6. The second three movies (SW4-SW6 :: 1999-2005 :: EP1-3)
are titled episodes 1-3. In my world, sci-fi fans are split down the
middle: some prefer the first three movies while others prefer the
second three. There is no right or wrong here, it's just a matter of
preference (some people hate Jar Jar Binks while others hate the
Ewoks; some loved watching Yoda training Luke on Dagobah while others
like me preferred the martial arts of Darth Maul; some thought the first
three were targeted at children while others thought the politics of the
second three made them more appropriate for adults). SW7 (2015) follows
the story SW3 (1983) and was co-written with
Lawrence Kasdan (who also co-wrote SW2 + SW3) so I suspect that
only half the
audience will love it.
comment: Okay so I just saw the film in 3D
and can tell you all that SW7 is better than any of the first three
movies (1977-1983) but not better than any of the second three
(1999-2005). I have no idea why people where watching it multiple times
when it opened.
- I just watched the first season of
The Man in the High Castle and was very impressed (like all good science
fiction, this story is very thought provoking)Click here to learn about more
German-related stories as told by Philip K. Dick
All I need to know about life, I learned from
Kitchener - Waterloo -
Cambridge, Ontario, Canada.