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
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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." Now in his late 80s, Clarke has 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
Flight 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 recently
(2004-02) spoke with The Onion A.V. Club
about 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
" described the
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) hardcover edition
"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 Man."
-- Arthur C. Clarke, 1917-2008
2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
The monolith is introduced to humanity
(a small one 6 million years ago, a small one on the moon, a larger one in
orbit around Jupiter)
- 2010: Odyssey Two (1982)
American and Russian scientists
cooperate while visiting the monolith orbiting Jupiter while their
governments behave badly on Earth.
- 2061: Odyssey Three (1988)
Heywood Floyd visits Halley's Comet
- 3001: The Final Odyssey (1997)
Frank Poole's body is recovered; Dave Bowman returns to Sol
A Sinister Retelling of the Odyssey Story
- Time's Eye - A Time Odyssey: 1 (2004)
- "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
- This books spends way-too-much time in the past and yet you need to
read it in order to read the next book
- Sunstorm - A Time Odyssey: 2 (2005)
- This book is much better than Timer's Eye (which spends far too
long in the past)
- "Time's Eye" seems to be 30% Clarke and 70% Baxter
- "Sunstorm" seems to be 70% Clarke and 30% Baxter
- Firstborn - A Time Odyssey: 3 (2008)
- This book is not as good as book 2 (Sunstorm).
- This books spends too-much time in the past
Odyssey-Rama Superscript Notes:
- Coauthored with Stephen Baxter
- Coauthored with Gentry Lee
- Click www.bookfinder.com or
to purchase rare and out-of-print books
Rendezvous With Rama (the 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)
How the World was One
- 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
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,
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
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 hours.
- Excerpt from Chapter 27, Page 201,
... paradoxically, it takes rather more energy to park [a
satellite] twenty two thousand miles up than to land on the
- WIRING THE ABYSS
- Introduction (to electrical / electronic
- The Coming of the Telegraph
- Channel Crossing
- A Great American (Cyrus West Field)
- Lord of Science (William Thomson a.k.a. Lord
- False Start (to laying an Atlantic telegraph
- Triumph of Disaster
- The Brink of Success
- Heart's Content (the first successful cable is
- Battle on the Seabed (they try to grapple for a
- 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
Postscript: The Second Russian Revolution
- NSR Comments: I was
surprised to learn that many telegraph cable projects were doomed to
failure because overly optimistic participants refused to learn
Ohm's Law. Just 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
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.
Arthur C. Clarke, "First on the Moon", 1970
Dr. Isaac Asimov (not
an honorary degree)
the rear dust jacket of "The Caves of Steel"
Doubleday 1954 hardcover edition
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 cancer research.
TODAY'S (1954) FICTION - TOMORROW'S FACTS
LIFE 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!
the dust jacket of "Robots and Empire"
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 Earth.
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 all of humanity a message from 1988.
Okay so it was only a few paragraphs from a book
but I was "in the zone" and took it seriously because it
reminded me of the posthumous messages sent by Hari Seldon
to all of humanity as found in Asimov's Foundation Novels
beginning with the Foundation Trilogy
should read this message too because
are 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 won't 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. I suggest you read them once then wait 7 years before
reading them again. You will not be disappointed.
The message follows in the gray box...
From "Author's Note
" (pages ix to x) of "Prelude To Foundation
Doubleday 1988 hardcover edition © 1988 by Nightfall Inc.
, 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 volumes
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.
, all published by Doubleday,
offer a kind of history of the future, 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/changes in RED):
- The Complete Robot (1982)
- I, Robot (1950)
- 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
- 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"). Click
here for more details.
||Caves of Steel
||This is the first of my robot novels.
||The Naked Sun
||The second robot novel.
||The Robots of Dawn
||The third robot novel. Click
here for a few pre-reading suggestions
||Robots and Empire
||The fourth robot novel.
||The Currents of Space
||This is the first of my
||The Stars, Like Dust
[Galactic] Empire novel.
||Pebble in the Sky
[Galactic] Empire novel and
||Prelude to Foundation
||This is the first Foundation novel.
||Forward the Foundation
||This is the second Foundation novel.
[ this title was not in Asimov's original list;
list positions adjusted ]
||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.
||Foundation's Edge (1982)
||This is the sixth Foundation novel.
||Foundation and Earth
||This is the seventh Foundation novel.
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
Prelude to Foundation 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 humanity side of
things. Remember that these stories were written during the age of
vacuum tubes thus predating the age of transistors and chips; Asimov
never mentions tubes or transistors but he does mention something called
the Positronic Brain with 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" might be 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 Robot Visions.
- 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 12]"
- 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
enjoyed it immensely.
- Book 7 (The Stars, Like Dust) was republished
in hardcover on December 2008 and
enjoyed it as well.
- Book 6 (The Currents of Space) was republished
in hardcover on April 2009 and
was worth every penny.
- Book 10 (Forward the Foundation) was not in Asimov's original list because he had not
it. This means that books 11-15 reflect new numberings. Forward the
Asimov's last book. Click here for
suppressed information about
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 the
triple bypass surgery responsible for infecting his blood with a deadly virus. I cannot imagine this collection
without 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 other authors
- 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
to purchase rare and out-of-print books
Isaac Asimov = Hari Seldon in the
It has not escaped my
"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
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
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
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 Foundation.
So I wrote Foundation and Earth, which begins at the very moment
Foundation's Edge ends, and that is the book you now hold. It might
help if you glanced over Foundation's Edge just to refresh your
memory, but you don't have to, Foundation and Earth stands by itself.
I hope you enjoy it.
New York City, 1986
Start of Caveat Section (runs for ~ 250 lines)
Don't bother reading between the two red boxes. Long after creating my own
of Isaac Asimov's books as I re-read them in 2004, I discovered a much better
collection of reviews at Wikipedia.
See what Asimov had to say about
Skip to my last "Isaac Asimov" paragraph below
to learn about Isaac Asimov's strange
and tragic death in 1992.
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.
www.alibris.com to purchase out-of-print
I, Robot (1950)
- A repackaging of nine previously published short stories presented as
the memoirs of robot psychologist Dr. Susan Calvin
- Everyone living in the modern world should read chapters 8 and 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
Laws of Robotics
- Chapter 3 -
- Another story involving US Robot field engineers, Gregory
Powel and Mike Donavan
- 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
- 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 (1941)
- Another story involving US Robot field engineers, Gregory
Powel and Mike Donavan
- 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 (1947)
- 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 collaboration.
- 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 -
The Evitable Conflict (1950)
- 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
|South America north of Argentina, Africa south of
the Atlas Mountains, North America South of the Rio Grande,
|The European Region
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 Zealand.
|Earth (& Antarctica)
||a kind of UN of
- 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
Laws of Robotics.
- 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 anti-technology group)
- 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
here for more
- 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 the
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
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 (1953, 1954)
The Naked Sun (1957)
- Planet: EARTH
Crisis: Dr. Roj
Nemennuh Sarton, the preeminent roboticist, is murdered in Spacetown
Problem: 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 surface
- 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 that
Vladimir Nabokov appeared in
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.
QUOTE: 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
The Robots of Dawn (1983)
- Planet: SOLARIA
Delmarre, husband of the beautiful Gladia, is found brutally murdered while,
apparently, attended by only his robots.
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 export)
- 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 :-)
here for a few pre-reading suggestions from me
- Planet: AURORA
Roboticide: Jander Panell, one of the two most advanced robots yet assembled
- a twin to R. Daneel Olivaw - is murdered
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
- 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,
- 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
- 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 Robotics 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
- Dr. Fastolf tells us that humaniform robot bodies were developed in
order to improve positronic brains
here for a few pre-reading suggestions from me
- Asimov said to next read Robots and Empire
Asimov Suggested Reading Order
Fourth book of the Robot Trilogy :-) (not part of the Elijah Baley Detective
Robots and Empire (1985)
- 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 Humanics.
- Notable connections to other books:
- Under Secretary of Energy, Sophia Quintana, mentions the
legend of robot-politician Stephen Byerley (I, Robot)
- Asimov said to next read Prelude to Foundation
Asimov Suggested Reading Order
More Robot Stories
The Rest of Robots (1964)
The Bicentennial Man (short story, 1975)
Robot Dreams (1986)
Galactic Empire Series
Pebble in the Sky (1950)
The Stars, Like Dust (1951)
The Currents of Space (1952)
- due to an experimental accident at a university across town, a tailor steps hundreds of years into
- a nearly naked man with no memory is found laying in a field
Foundation Series 1
Prelude to Foundation (1988)
- 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 Isaac's death)
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.
Forward the Foundation (1993)
- 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 1992.
- Part 1 (Eto Demerzel) - Chapter 1: Eight years have passed since the end of
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 years old
- Part 4 (Wanda Seldon) - Chapter 1:
Hari is ~70 years old
- 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
- 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 Soylent Green
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 Edward
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).
's holographic image, pictured on a paperback edition of
, appears at various times in the
First Foundation's history, to guide it through the social and economic crises that befall it.
Foundation and Empire (1952)
- Part 1 - The Psychohistorians
Excerpt from the
Encyclopedia Galactica: Hari 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 years.
- Part 2 - The Encyclopedists
- Part 3 - The Mayors
- Part 4 - The Traders
- Part 5 - The Merchant Princes
Second Foundation (1953)
- 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 writing prequels
Foundation's Edge (1982)
Foundation and Earth (1986)
- 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
- This book is a continuation of Foundation's Edge but
seems better written.
- 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
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.
- Click here for a possible fourth
law of robotics
- Click here for the official
zeroth law of robotics
(hinted at in many stories but formalized in Robots and Empire)
Note: In Isaac Asimov's book "It's Been A Good Life", Isaac states that
Astounding Magazine publisher
John W. Campbell deserves
joint credit in the creation of the Asimov's Three
Laws of Robotics
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
One 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 Gathering Shadows"
Appendix A. "Essay 400" - A Way of Thinking
Appendix B. Isaac's Personal Favorite: "The Last Question"
Appendix C. Bibliography of Works by Isaac Asimov
Some Useful Web Links:
End of Caveat Section: Started 250 lines up
Isaac Asimov Audio Interview with Don
(Audio only - 25 minutes)
- Isaac Asimov on Bill Moyers World of Ideas pt 0 (Audio only)
- Isaac Asimov on Bill Moyers World of Ideas pt 1 (2008-03-19)
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:
"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 on Bill Moyers World of Ideas pt 2
- Isaac Asimov on Bill Moyers World of Ideas pt 3
- Isaac Asimov - Threats to Humanity Part 1
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
Asimov's letter to
magazine). You can draw your own conclusions, but that makes me feel
that it was primarily the physicians' reputations that were being protected by
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
exercise and diet so he could avoid the triple-bypass surgery as well as the
associated blood transfusions which infected him.
The following examples are not "ratings busters" but you should check them
out whenever your sci-fi hunger pangs are forcing you to settling for a rerun of "Lost in Space"
- Philip K. Dick inspired TV series which is a merger of
"Blade Runner" and
22 Episodes Total.
- Atlas / Timeline
- 2070 AD = 50 NIO (New Interplanetary Order)
which assumes a major revolution concluded in 2020 AD
- Geopolitical structures of the Consortium
- CorNet (the largest communications
company on Earth)
(pronounced Mine-a-con; largest mining company
of the solar system)
- Uber Braun (the most successful
android manufacturer on Earth)
for a theory on why Germans are
involved in replicant (a.k.a. cyborg) manufacturing
- VariDyne (Variable Dynamics; the largest developer of
genetic engineering and medical products)
- Rekall (leading manufacturer of
virtual reality technology)
- IPC (Inter Planetary Council) which
is the governing body on Earth, Mars, and the Moon
- CPB (Citizens Protection
- RSB (Reproduction Selection
- C&I (Customs and Immigration)
- CIB (Citizens Information
- The Assessors Division
- Philip Dick
Note: for more info about this author and some of his spin-offs,
visit my Blade Runner page
- by William Shatner of Star Trek fame
- better than average stories
- just enough good f/x to support the stories (e.g. they don't over do
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 computer software will recognize many more
non-computer types. This must be why TRON is an underground cult classic with
most computer engineering students.
uses the I/O tower to
communicate with his user,
(Here is my disc)
- In the early days of computing many video terminals had a
which meant "TRace ON". There was
also a TROF key which meant "TRace
- 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
- In the 1970s and 1980s,
PDP-11 minicomputers running the
operating system signaled readiness to the operator with an MCR> prompt.
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
- 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 can run at any time. So the OS
runs a scheduler
process which allocates a small slice of time (10 to 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
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?
"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 exit!
- 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 Babylon 5)
Dr. Walter Gibbs (tower guardian)
Roy "RAM" Kleinberg
(never seen in the movie)
Mr. Henderson, a full branch
(never seen in the movie)
|Peter Jurasik (Ambassador Londo
Molari in Babylon 5)
||CGI (computer generated
||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 flavors.
- 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
viruses 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.
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 browser)
- 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 example).
- 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
- 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 Home Page
- TRON @ SciFlicks
TRON: Legacy (2010 movie)
It seems me that several corners were cut in the TRON: Legacy story
line. What is up with movie producers? Don't they realize that without a perfect
story there will be no market to fleece for the next 10-20 years? (e.g. Star
Wars Prequel, Blade Runner, etc.) I watched TRON: Legacy
in 3d and, although the graphics were superb, I doubt I would ever buy it in 2d
or 3d because the story was no where near as good as the original TRON movie.
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)
- ETC = Energy Transfer Conduit
- Some internet walk-through texts refer to GRAPPLE.
This is the magnetic grapple which occurs when you see a hovering
ORANGE star. Hold R1 while hitting CIRCLE
- TRON PS3 Porting Bug? At one point an onscreen hint will appear
(chapter 5 - ID Friend or Foe) suggesting you do
a RIGHT PERCUSSION ATTACK on a vertical pillar. You will not find this key sequence in the help
Solution: On the D-pad (four disc power selector under
your left thumb) click the right-most
button to select the BOMB DISC then attack with this (triangle button; top of
the right-hand button cluster)
- TRON PS3 Run-time Bugs?
- A couple of times (rarely) I have lost use of HEAVY DISCs and BOMB
DISCs on the game grid. When I pushed either button on the 6-AXIS
controller, the TRON software reacted by updating the display but the
items were now transparent (and the active DISC remained either
CORRUPTION or STASIS). I left the game grid then returned to STORY MODE
but the devices were still not there, and I couldn't get past the
current scenario. I exited then reentered the game story mode and my
transparent devices had returned. (I didn't need to reboot the PS3)
- A couple of times (rarely) I have seen ANON stuck in some sort of
pre-jump gesture. You can move him around but can't fire any discs, run
up a wall or jump. Sometimes pushing him over a small edge (one where he
won't derez) will fix ANON. Otherwise, you've got to exit whatever mode
you are in (STORY or GAME GRID) then restart the mode.
- In some scenarios you need to defeat all combatants before other
things are enabled (magnetic grapple; removal of viral
infection blocking a path; door opening)
- In some scenarios it is impossible to beat all the warriors.
While fighting them, observe your surroundings and consider
exiting the scenario early. However...
- Never exit scenarios too early. You'll need points to buy
software upgrades (capacitors to hold more energy, extended
health, more powerful bombs, etc.) Without these upgrades it will be very difficult
to make your way past Chapter 5 ("ID Friend or Foe") in STORY MODE. If you
already find yourself stuck in one of the later scenarios with
insufficient upgrades or points, you will need to exit STORY
MODE for a while then build up additional points on the GAME
- You will win more points by using a combination of power
disks and light disc rather than using light disc alone. Under
normal circumstances you will only have 4 power disks before you
need to hop (while pressing R1) over a while cylinder or
console. Picking up power pieces after your opponent drezes will
also restore power disc count.
- You will not get through some scenarios unless you pay minimal
attention to virus infected opponents
- Chapter 3 - Aijia Part 2
- The Hub
- when you see the black guard (variation LIGHT STAFF)
a hint will appear telling you this warrior is
vulnerable to BOMB DISC. You will need to use three but
if you run out try forcing him over the edge.
- Aijia Theatre
- divide your attention 90/10 between attacking
opponents (10%) and switching two ETCs from orange to
blue (90%). You now have very little time to leave Aijia
Theatre before it will derez.
- Chapter 3 - Aijia Part 3
- in the room with 4 symbols, divide your time between attacking opponents (10%) and switching the four
orange symbols (90%).
- Chapter 5 - ID Friend or Foe
- divide your attention between attacking infected
opponents (20%) and smashing five ETCs after they shift from green
to white (80%).
Prometheus (2012 Movie)
Okay so I'm getting a lot of heat from people after I said "Prometheus is the best sci-fi movie this side of Y2k". Everyone is
welcome to their own opinion but here is a short list of the things that I saw
in the movie:
ALERT *** SPOILER ALERT *** SPOILER ALERT *** SPOILER ALERT
*** SPOILER ALERT ***
Well everyone is welcome to their opinion. Over the years, I have found myself
agreeing with every sci-fi review by Roger Ebert and he just gave Prometheus a
10 out of ten. Now please remember that patrons and critics hated "2001: A Space
Odyssey" for almost a year (people walked out;
some demanded a refund; many complained the movie plot is weak which was true)
but eventually the public at large declared it to be the best sci-fi of all
time. Likewise, many people hated "Blade Runner" which I consider to be the best
sci-fi, but over time the public came around. Nope, Prometheus was a great movie
(especially in IMAX 3D) and I can hardly wait for part two.
I'm "not" saying I am always right. But I have been reading/watching sci-fi all
my life and immediately loved movies like "2001: A Space Odyssey" and "Blade
Runner" while the non-sci-fi people required months-to-years to change their
minds. I am convinced that many people are "cultural sheep" and only follow the
crowd. So they only admit like a movie like the two I just mentioned after their
friends or some popular critic indicates otherwise (It is a form of cognitive
dissonance). So, you guys didn't like "Prometheus" but I did so let's just leave
it at that and see how everyone feels a year from now.
SPOILER ALERT: Okay, so let's look at some of the things seen in the movie:
In the Greek myth, Prometheus steals fire from the gods and gives it to man.
Zeus is pissed and so Prometheus is condemned to have his liver ripped out every
morning by an Eagle; the liver regrows every
night and the torture continues forever
In this movie we learn that a
rich man is trying to steal the secret of immortality from the gods. In return,
an awful lot more that one's liver will be ripped out. To make matters worse,
all humanity might pay the price.
SPOILER ALERT: In the movie "2001: A Space Odyssey" an
alien artifact is discovered buried on the moon which was deliberately buried by
some previous visitor. When sunlight first falls on the artifact (monolith) a
radio beacon is sent to Jupiter to awaken the
star gate. Mankind follows.
In this movie, buried cave paintings are
discovered which appear to be pointing to a star system 3.27 x 10^14 km away
(LV-223). Since this matches other cave paintings, mankind follows. BTW, the
planet they visit in "Aliens" is LV-426. Perhaps a neighboring star system.
SPOILER ALERT: Almost all sci-fi stories done by
anyone other than Isaac Asimov contain a variation of the Frankenstein Complex
where humanity's technology is turned against itself. So in the movie "2001",
HAL, an autonomous goal-seeking system develops
a neurosis/psychosis because humans are constantly lying to him. Things go bad
for near-by humans.
In this movie, the robot is a little more like the
replicants of Blade Runner than HAL. This robot seems to exhibit human emotions
(like curiosity) which result in smiling whenever no humans can see him do so.
He thinks he is smarter than everyone else around him while he executes the
wishes of Weyland; Near the end of the film he realizes that Dr. Elizabeth Shaw
is different than the others. Will he take her to the alien home-world (as she
wants) or will he take her back to Earth (as he may want)? We will need to wait
for part #2 to find out.
SPOILER ALERT: In Asimov's Foundation Trilogy series
(written ~ 1950, BTW), some situations are described where Hari Seldon takes out
a small device (I believe it was a cube), touches the top to reveal a 3-d
holographic display of humanity's future history
as computed by the science of "psycho history" where statistics, history and
sociology are combined in computer models to predict humanity's future history.
In this movie, a similar cube with-a-3d-display seems to me an homage to the
Asimovian stories. This also makes me think the robot will turn out to be good
after all. (now go read or watch: Bicentennial Man)
SPOILER ALERT: Arthur C. Clarke once wrote a book called "Rendezvous with Rama"
where astronauts explore a visiting alien space ship. This story was developed
into a 4-book series. I believe it was book #2 where some astronauts are trapped
on the ship and so ride it back to the alien
home-world near the star "Sirius". Book #3 follows the story of some astronauts
who follow the journey of the previous crew. Like 2001, these stories share the
common thread of "meeting your maker" (something that Roy Batty says to Eldon
Tyrell in Blade Runner)
I'm not sure where the second Prometheus movie
will go, but when Dr. Elizabeth Shaw told David (the robot) she wanted to visit
the alien home-world rather than return to Earth, I immediately recalled
Clarke's "RAMA series" and just assumed that if anyone could pull this off, then
it would be Ridley Scott.
Now I might be totally wrong; David might take
Shaw back to Earth to pick up the other "Alien movie" threads. Or, perhaps,
there will be two story lines. Perhaps the threads will be picked up by
whom-ever inherits Weyland Corporation. Is Meredith Vickers (Weyland's daughter)
dead or will it be someone else. Who knows; Will need to wait for the next
Better check out
these links for more info:
A few more facts:
- the ship shown above the first engineer is disc-shaped (the others
buried on LV223 are C-shaped)
- the human portion of the movie begins on Earth in 2089
- when the Prometheus is first seen, it is 3.27 x 10^14 km from Earth. Since
one light year
km then Prometheus must be 34.5 light years from Earth.
- The movie shows Prometheus approaching LV-223 but Ridley Scott said the
destination was a moon, or planet, in orbit around Zeta II Reticuli
- according to Wikipedia,
is a binary system 39 LY from Earth
- the space ship lands on LV_223 on Christmas Day, 2092 (is there any
religious significance to using this day?)
- the movie ends on New Year's Day, 2093 (a new chapter begins?)
- David (a robot) is seen:
- eating food
- drinking liquids
- watching movies
- dyeing his hair yellow to match the color of an actor in the movie
- smiling (when no human can see)
- always seems to have an expression of surprise whenever Dr. Shaw
speaks (he finds other humans predictable but not her)
http://www.whatis101112.com/ - this
suspiciously named web page causes me wonder if Prometheus2 will be released on
October 11, 2012
- Quote from Peter Weyland's 2023 TED Talk:
"We are now 3 months into the year of our lord 2023. At this moment now we can
create cybernetic individuals, who in just a few short years will become
completely indistinguishable from us."
Let's assume for a moment that Ridley Scott
is thinking about merging the Blade Runner and
Prometheus/Alien story lines. Blade Runner takes place in 2019 but we
know that story ends with the murder of Eldon Tyrell (who may have been a
replicant) by the replicant Roy Batty. Okay, so can we now assume that the
Weyland corporation has acquired or merged with the Tyrell corporation.
- David (Weyland's pseudo son) is an android who appears to be more
inquisitive that the humans on the ship
- Meredith Vickers is a Weyland Corporation employee sent to monitor the
expedition. In the film she calls Peter Weyland "father", but she may be no
more a biological daughter than David is a biological son. She seems quite
cold and standoffish until the Captain, while flirting, asks her if she is
an android. She responds with "meet me in my quarters in 10 minutes" which
makes me think she is trying to hind her non-human secret.
Merging story lines occurs all the time. For example, the actor "Lance
Henriksen" plays the part of the android Bishop (created by
"the company") in James Cameron's movie
Aliens (2006) as well
as Charles Bishop Weyland in
Alien vs. Predator (2004). I think it was the Alien/Predator comic books
which first tell us that the android's appearance was an homage to the Weyland
In the immortal words of Alfred Bester, "you can't
argue with mundanes because they do not appear to be fully aware"
p.s. Sometimes "Comic-Con people" use the word "mundanes" to describe people
who "just don't get sci-fi"
With the advent of
seventh generation gaming consoles (Xbox
360 and PlayStation 3) coupled with big-screen
HDTV, technophiles have seen
huge increases in video game quality which have enabled sci-fi games.
(some) Decent Sci-Fi Games
Mass Effect 3
Quote From Wikipedia: Mass Effect
is a series of
third-person shooter video games
developed by the Canadian company
released for the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and Microsoft Windows, with ME3 (the third
installment) also released on the Wii U. The first game in the trilogy centers
around a player-created character named Commander Shepard and his (or her) mission
to save the galaxy from a race of mechanical beings known as the Reapers.
- I was more than surprised by
Mass Effect 3 with its
sci-fi story lines and stunning graphics
while half the price (and double the length) of Call of Duty: Black Ops II.
- The opening text mentions humanity discovering the mass relays
and other races in 2157 then some sort of war breaking out 30 years later in
- First Time Recommendations:
- Enter your redemption code to enable then download additional missions.
Note: this one-time "redemption code" thing is done by
most game manufacturers to entice people to buy new games rather than
used (a.k.a. pseudo rental) games. On occasion, the odd used game might
include an unused redemption code because many people don't know about
- Every time you start a new game you will be prompted for one of three
- Action Mode - for those who want to
emphasize action and combat and minimize story management. Action
mode will set automatic replies in conversation and a normal
- RPG Mode - for those who want to explore
both realms of story and combat. Role Playing Game mode will set
manually-selectable replies in conversation and a normal combat
- Story Mode - for those who want to
emphasize story immersion and minimize combat pressure. Story mode
will set manually-selectable replies in conversation and a minimal
- If you want a neat sci-fi experience, select
Mode, then enable sub-titles so you can read all dialog including "the
whispers". First time through might require 20 hours. Once you know the
story, you can skip-through character
dialogs by punching the SQUARE button on a PS3.
- Ashley Williams will become injured then hospitalized early in the
game. Visit her as often as possible and be friendly. Don't let her die in the
confrontation with Ambassador Udina. Don't take her with you on the
mission to London
- Before you play the last segment of the London Scenario, make sure
you down load and install "The
Extended Cut" ending. This module is free.
- The game supports two different endings on PS3 (walk left to blue; walk
right to red) so you might want to
check the internet before you choose -OR- replay all endings.
- Some web sites report a third ending (walk middle to white) but I
have not been able to determine it this is XBOX, Windows-PC, or both.
Observations: parts of Mass Effect 3
and Killzone 2 are reminiscent of popular TV shows like:
Final Dialog (after the credits):
- Child: Did that all really happen?
- Stargazer: Yes, but some of the details have been lost
in time. It all happened so very long ago.
note: "very" is heard but not displayed in the
- Child: When can I go to the stars?
- Stargazer: One day, my sweet.
- Child: What will be there?
- Stargazer: Anything you can imagine. Our galaxy has
billions of stars.
- Stargazer: Each of those stars could have many worlds.
- Stargazer: Every world could be home to a different
form of life.
- Stargazer: And every life is a special story of its
- Child: Tell me another story about the Shepard
- Stargazer: It’s getting late but, okay… one more story.
Opening Text (needs to be changed):
- Game Introduction:
2157, humanity discovered it was not alone in
the universe. Thirty years later, they found a peaceful among dozens of
galactic species. But this idyllic future us overshadowed by a dark past:
Reapers, a sentient race of machines responsible for
cleansing the galaxy of all organic life every 50,000 years, are
about to return. The leaders of the galaxy are paralyzed by indecision;
unable to accept the legend of the Reapers as fact. But one soldier gas seen
the legend come to life. And now, the fate of the galaxy depends on him.
- if all organic life was cleansed every 50,000 then there would
not be enough time for evolution to take hold
- all large animals were exterminated on Earth
years ago when a large (6-10 km) asteroid struck
- evidence for complex organic life can be found dating back more
million years ago
- Suggestion: change the red words above to read "cleansing the galaxy of all
technologically advanced organic
life every 50,000 years"
8th-Generation Consoles / Next Generation Consoles
Eighth generation gaming consoles (Xbox 720 and
PlayStation 4) have
been promised for 2013 so sci-fi gaming will only continue to improve.
when consumers will actually experience a
Holodeck as seen on
The Next Generation
Graphic Novels (Comic Books)
A few Comic Books (of many) responsible for warping my brain.
Oops! The phrase "comic book" is no longer cool. We now use the phrase
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
- 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 Comics has
republished the first 21
Magnus issues in three
hard-cover books on high quality paper:
- Magnus, Robot Fighter Vol. 1 HC
- Magnus, Robot Fighter Vol. 2 HC
- Magnus, Robot Fighter Vol. 3 HC
- Alternatively, check out this on-line retailer with good prices:
Things From Another World (
- Volume-1 contains Magnus, Robot Fighter comic
book issues 01-07 (1963-02-xx to 1964-08-xx) 205 pages
- Also contains a Russ Manning biography
- click this
and you'll see Asimov's
First Law of
in the lower left
- 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 episode
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 the episode
- humans are too dependent on robots as is
seen in the episode
- 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
"A 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 obese humans
- 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
The Paradise Syndrome
which aired 1968-08-1
Space Family Robinson
- this 1962
Gold Key Comics
publication was based upon the, then recent, Disney movie "Swiss Family
Robinson". This comic was later turned into the disappointing TV
in Space" (which was developed into a
movie). The comic was
serious sci-fi but the TV program was some sort of bad joke and the
movie appears to run out of something (money?) half way through.
Miscellaneous - Links
Firefly / Serenity
- Firefly (television series) and
are examples of high quality science-fiction written for an adult audience.
- Unlike Star Trek and Star Wars:
- there isn't any reliance on techno-babble
- there are not any precocious children possessing engineering skills
superior to idiot adults
- there are not any aliens (and therefore no need for prosthetics)
- Takes place 500 years in the future after a civil war between
members of the Alliance
- The Alliance is based upon a cultural blend of American English and
- the actors speak English 99% of the time but we can only guess
what they are saying when they speak Chinese
- enabling English subtitles only reveals the phrase "Speaking
- some of the Wikipedia links below connect to web sites with
Chinese to English translations for the series
- "Serenity" is the name of a "Firefly class" space ship. It was named
"Serenity" by the ship's captain, Malcolm Reynolds, who survived the
"battle of Serenity Valley"
- Firefly is probably the best sci-fi TV series since Babylon 5.
- NBC interfered with, then cancelled, the original incarnation of
Star Trek (1966-1969) then déjà-vu ...
- FOX interfered with, then cancelled, Firefly (2002)
- FOX executives (f'cking geniuses) refused to begin the season with
the 2-part series opener was called Serenity. Too bad
because this episode developed the main characters so viewers would
know what is going on in subsequent episodes.
- FOX executives aired other episodes out of sequence
- sports programs were allowed to preempt the beginning of some
Firefly episodes. "We now resume our regularly scheduled
programming". Since networks have paid for programs, then preempt
them for other reasons, their actions can only be described as
schizophrenic. (what is wrong with delaying all programming because
of the overrun of a sports program?)
- Sorry Mr. Whedon but, despite our
interference with airing it, your program "Firefly" program has low ratings so we're
going to cancel it.
- I purchased the 4-disk
DVD box set (which contains 3 episodes never aired on FOX) and it is
worth every penny because you can now watch the episodes in the
- Unaired episodes:
- The Message
- Heart of Gold
- I just purchased the 3-disk
Blue-ray DVD box set and the shows are fantastic.
- Serenity is probably the second best sci-fi movie of 2005 (after
"Star Wars Episode 3: Revenge of the Sith")
- I purchased the DVD and it is worth every penny (note that it is a
different telling of the Firefly story)
Babylon 5 / Crusade /
Legend of the Rangers (high quality science-fiction written for an adult
- Babylon 5
- J. Michael Straczynski @
- Harlan Ellison
@ Wikipedia or harlanellison.com
- Douglas Netter
- www.scifi.com/b5rangers/intro/ B5: Legend of the Rangers
- Babylon 5: The Lost Tales (to be released in 2007) finished their
principal shooting in Vancouver on December 1, 2006. They were located on
the same sound stage as "Battlestar Galactica"
- 2006-10: I purchased "Babylon 5: The Complete Seasons 1-5" purple
+ silver boxed set from a Toronto website but I think it might be
counterfeit because the video quality is average and the shipping invoice
shows it came from China. It required 6 weeks to get through the 110
episodes spread across 30 discs but the journey was well worth the effort.
- 2006-11: I purchased "Babylon 5: The Movie Collection". What a
treat to watch these without commercial breaks.
- 2006-12: I have just finished watching "Babylon 5: Legend of the
Rangers". Very cool.
- 2006-12: I have just finished watching the "Babylon 5: Crusade"
4-disk set and I only have two negative things to say:
- it was only available in 4:3 full screen
- I hated episode 12 (even though I love the X-Files)
- 2009-09-xx: I purchased "Babylon 5: The Complete Seasons 1-5
(repackaged)" from Amazon.com and this product is much better than
the counterfeit set I purchased in 2006.
- Visit my
Blade Runner page
- 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:
I just might get to like this place. Let's see if the
Braves are on. How do you turn on this here teevee?Riker:
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
Television died in
2004; not 2040Reason:
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.
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.
And don't forget, she's a politician, and they're not to be trusted.
00:12:41 [ Anakin ] She's not like the others in the senate, Master.
00:12:44 [ Obi-Wan ] It is my experience that senators...
focus only on pleasing those who fund their campaigns...
they're in no means scared of forgetting the niceties of democracy...
00:12:53 -in order to get those funds. - Not another lecture.
00:12:55 At least not on the economics of politics.
Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones
Movie Quotes Link:
Kitchener - Waterloo - Cambridge, Ontario, Canada.