Monday, January 9, 2012
The Foundation Group Read Part 1
I am so excited to be participating in Carl's Group Read of Isaac Asimov's The Foundation. In the email he sent with the questions, he mentioned that he will be hosting group reads of the other two books in the trilogy. Yay! I finally get to read this book that I inherited from my dad that has the whole trilogy. Also, it will knock off #8 on NPR's Top 100 Sci-Fi/Fantasy list. This time (unlike when I listened to The Lantern) I didn't charge ahead past the designated stopping point. If you are joining along or just want to see what Carl or others are saying about the first half of the book, head over to Stainless Steel Droppings.
1) For the purpose of satisfying curiosity, is this your first time reading Foundation or have you read it before?
I had tried reading The Foundation a few years ago and got probably close to this point when I stopped. I remember liking how it started out and then getting bogged down in the details.
2) For those who have read it before, how has it held up to your memory/feelings about previous reads?
I really enjoy, as I did now, Part One: The Psychohistorians. Perhaps because I majored in history and love the idea of psychohistorians analyzing and using statistics and mathematics to predict future events. I am also amazed at how Asimov set up the story with Gaal Dornick going to Trantor and how in just a few short pages a whole world is created. I think I still got bogged down at the same place in Part Three: The Mayors with all the political talk and dealings. This time, I read The Foundation out loud to Rocket as I fed him a bottle and for some reason reading it out loud helped me get through it much easier.
3) For those reading Foundation for the first time, what expectations did you have going in and has it met them or surprised you in any way?
For me, I am still amazed that even though this was written in 1951, it does not seem dated at all. That and I feel like some modern writers can learn a lot from writers like Asimov. You don't need to write a 800+ page book to get across the point. Asimov can pack a lot in a small punch. I always think The Foundation sounds like a huge chunkster but it isn't.
4) What are your thoughts about the structure of the novel thus far? (I am referring to the brief glimpses of different parts of the history of the Foundation with big time gaps between events in the novel)
I actually am really loving this part. I feel omniscience this way. By jumping the time gap we are able to see how the pieces fit together much better. I think it takes a little getting used to though because in most novels or books the reader follows a character or protagonist. I guess Hari Seldon could be the main protagonist but he is old and dies in the first part.
5) What are your initial thoughts on the field of psychohistory?
I think it is ingenious. I really think it could be possible.
6) What, if anything, is holding your interest thus far, what are you enjoying about Foundation?
I think the psychohistory part is fascinating and I want to see how Hari Seldon's predictions come about. I also love the similarities between the fall of the Galactic Empire and the period of barbarism that is predicted is so similar to the fall of the Roman Empire and the Middle Ages. In my library and information science classes, they are also concerned with a future "dark" age if all of our information is stored on computers and based on a technology to access, what happens if that technology fails? Anyway. I am still looking forward to reading more of The Foundation.
7)What, if anything, are you not enjoying about Foundation?
I was pleasantly surprised that the political talk I found in Part Three: The Mayors, wasn't what I remembered and I was interested in that part of the story as well. Carl had us stop at a pretty good point with the heightened tension as Salvor Hardin is heading towards Anacreaon and possibly his doom. Oooo. I am a bit disappointed that there's no female characters, as yet, but Carl mentioned a few strong female characters in the next two books in the trilogy.
8) You may have covered this in answering the other questions, but if not, what are your thoughts/feelings about the Galactic Empire. Is it a practical thing to have a galaxy spanning government? Can you imagine such a thing and do you think it would work?
I totally find that believable. It seems like throughout history, empires are never quite happy with what they have and are continually trying to expand - which often leads to destruction. It's always harder to control and manage larger populations with different cultures, geographies, religions, etc. The Greeks, the Romans, the Roman Catholics, the Byzantines, the Greek Orthodox, the Russians, the Germans, the list goes on and on. Even our own country, I think, is starting to get too Federally run which only makes it harder to manage. There are benefits as well as drawbacks to having such a large spanning government.
9) What are your thoughts on Hardin's creation of a religious system in which to house scientific ideas and technology while keeping the users of that science and technology in the dark?
I think that it is quite brilliant. I could absolutely see that happening. What is harder to imagine is the priests who believe while working behind the scenes. It's difficult imagining that but I could see it happening at the same time. I almost see that in some of Earth's history. Perhaps this is what the Egyptians and other cultures did - set up their kings as gods and coerce the population into submission using "magic." It's quite fascinating.
Ok that's it! I'm looking forward to finishing it up and then joining in with Carl's future group reads of the rest of the trilogy.