The Sword and Laser discussion

Foundation (Foundation, #1)
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2012 Reads > FOUND: How seriously should Foundation be taken?

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David(LA,CA) (davidscharf) | 327 comments I finished Foundation, and I would say that I enjoyed it. It felt to me like it was a lightly comedic story. Like we should be laughing at the supporting cast around the main characters and how their plans (or lack of plans in some cases) failed or were proven wrong. It was like a Hitchhiker's Guide entry: A serious discussion of something that's a little silly.

I'm curious if I'm alone in this. I'm also wondering if we know how Asimov intended this work to come across.


Katie (calenmir) | 211 comments I thought it was hilarious how incredibly naive the encyclopedists were about how the neighboring planets could interfere with them, does that count? Maybe the "best-laid plans of mice and men" are always a bit comedic.


Jonathon Dez-la-lour (jd2607) | 173 comments I think the book was intended to be taken as a serious science-fiction novel but I dunno... I'm having trouble taking it seriously - not to say that I find it funny or amusing - but I'm struggling to take chunks of it seriously at all, particularly from a style aspect.


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Gordon McLeod (mcleodg) | 347 comments There are definite elements, such as the naive encyclopedists, that I don't think were meant to be taken too seriously. I would think he meant for the audience to wonder how they could possibly be so blind, and then compare and contrast that to Seldon, who apparently predicted their blindness.


message 5: by David Sven (last edited Sep 09, 2012 11:07PM) (new)

David Sven (gorro) | 1582 comments Gord wrote: "There are definite elements, such as the naive encyclopedists, that I don't think were meant to be taken too seriously. I would think he meant for the audience to wonder how they could possibly be ..."

That really didn't work for me. The encyclopedists shouldn't have believed Seldon, but Seldon needed them to? But then they throw everything away instantly because Seldon says so on his first appearance in the time capsule? And then what idiot took Seldon seriously enough in the first place, to the extant they gave these encyclopedists a whole planet? I feel the whole premise is naive and just too unbelievable. It appears that Asimov has an unrealistic ideal that the common man won't or can't or shouldn't question smart people.


Alex C | 25 comments So you expect idealistic scientific types to be politically savvy and devious?


message 7: by Anne (new)

Anne | 336 comments And yet, even today, how few common men question smart people... or those reputed to be smart. Somewhere around 4th grade children in most schools stop questioning - it has such a downside.


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Gordon McLeod (mcleodg) | 347 comments Exactly, Anne. The thing that struck me most about it was how incredibly plausible it seemed, once you swallowed the whole thing with psychohistory and predicting the future accurately.


message 9: by Anne (new)

Anne | 336 comments Yes. Especially considering what has happened in politics since the 50's.


message 10: by David Sven (last edited Sep 10, 2012 01:18AM) (new)

David Sven (gorro) | 1582 comments Anne wrote: "And yet, even today, how few common men question smart people"

I actually agree. But my main point is Asimov appears to think this is as it should be. And the character's reactions to Seldon are still over simplistic and not believable.

Alex wrote: "So you expect idealistic scientific types to be politically savvy and devious?"

I expect them to be as human and fallible and susceptible to corruption and self interest as anybody else. I do not believe in a stereotypical scientist.


message 11: by Anne (new)

Anne | 336 comments People tendto react to Seldon types in very simple ways. We might like it to be otherwise but all we have to consider is how most people react to sound bytes from mass media to see that most people are very simple in their thought processes. Just consider the hub-bub about god being taken out of the Democratic platform. So now the Republicans are "the party of god" and "Jerusalem is the capital of Israel" with none of the ramifications being considered...not by mass media, not by the sudience. Once the team is chosen then all issues are decided simply.


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John (kilowog42) | 27 comments Anne wrote: "Yes. Especially considering what has happened in politics since the 50's."

See, I thought the main part of the book was showing what happens when the common man is outsmarted. The three main characters were all able to out maneuver the men who sought to destroy them. And since there were only three incredibly smart men who were able to forge the path, I see it completely understandable that there were people who weren't corrupted by politics and who were able to easily out smart the aggressive men around them.

I found what was funny was how everyone around the main characters thought they would be the ones to beat them with violence. That was my main takeaway, that violence is easily overcome through preparation and brilliance.


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