Cover of "The Complete Robot (Robot Serie...

Cover of The Complete Robot (Robot Series)

I don’t know why I never got round to reading it. I picked it up in a charity shop eons ago. The cover showed its age and the title didn’t seem that exciting. Even the blurb on the back of the book failed to motivate any kind of desire to read it. How wrong I was.

I tend to find books where politics form the central thread of the story tedious. There are some notable exceptions; The Song of Ice and Fire trilogy by George Martin the main one that springs to mind. I also have low tolerance for books that don’t grab me early in the story. So I didn’t have high expectations. Despite all that, Foundation is the best science fiction novel I’ve ever read.

The central premise of the story is interesting. The behaviour of any sufficiently large society can be mapped and predicted using mathematical models. Professor Hari Sheldon, as a Psychohistorian predicts the downfall of the empire using such mathematical models. There is no way to avoid it, but the effects are mitigated by forming the Foundation.

The story rattles along at a cracking pace as the epochs unfold. Each epoch requires a different set of skills and a different set of people to come to the fore. The scale of the story is sometimes staggering, but as a writer, I can appreciate the crispness of Isaac Asimov‘s prose. The end of every era is marked by a crisis as the new epoch is born. I thoroughly enjoyed it and I was genuinely disappointed when the book finished. 

I went to the local bookshop to pick up the sequels, only to find that they were out of stock. Impatient to get another dose of Asimov, I picked up the Complete Robot anthology. All of the 31 stories revolve around the robots of the US Robotics and Mechanical Men corporation and the nuances of the 3 laws of robotics. Some might think that such a subject would be severely limiting, but there is huge variety in the stories. My personal favourite is Reason where the robots decide that the best way to obey first law is to start locking the humans up.

By a sheer stroke of coincidence the day after I finished the series I, Robot came on the TV. I have yet to read the story, but I couldn’t turn down the chance of some visual Asimov goodness. The character names and the terminology used are reminiscent of the world I’ve come to know and love, but it’s almost as if they put together all the ingredients of a good Asimov robot story and threw half of them away. Not a bad film, but somehow a wasted opportunity.

I can’t wait for someone to create a film version of Foundation. In the meantime, I’m patiently waiting for the next books in the series.


3 comments on “Asimov

  1. Pingback: Isaac Asimov’s Robot Series is a must read | From couch to moon

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