As I rarely discard a book, it should thus come as no surprise that I have overflowing shelves of novels I’ve once read, enjoyed, savoured and then swore up-and-down-back-and-forth that I was going to re-read someday. Alas, it is someday. I’m spending whole of 2016 revisiting my book collection, digging back into books I read once, but that I haven’t read (or listened to) in at least four years. So, we’re about to find out what was worth reading… twice.
The trilogy continues…
I will admit that even though I haven’t read the Foundation trilogy (including the current volume Foundation and Empire by Issac Asimov) in a number of years, I do have a copy of the BBC radio drama adaptation on my iPod. Those recordings from the early 1970s are faithful to the story (so I’m noticing again) and are worth tracking down if you like that sort of thing. I’ve listened to them on a kind of rotation, queuing them up every year or so for another play through.
The funny thing about old science fiction is that (a) science fiction is meant to be a commentary on modern reality and (b) it tends to project a foreseeable future outward from the point at which it was written. This means that when you read stuff that was written in, say, the 1950s like the Foundation trilogy, the future that is projected is one filled with advanced nuclear technology and intergalactic travel… but also a universe where everyone still smokes cigarettes. It is a universe of advanced medicine and powerful computers, but those computers are still giant machines, the internet is nary a glimmer of an idea, and modern ideas like feminism and general equality are stalled out as if they piqued in 1956… which I don’t think was a great year for either of those ideas.
Foundation is anachronistic, but clever. It’s a story that hinges itself on a future that could never really be, not anymore at least, but doesn’t set itself so firmly there that the setting matters much more than window-dressing.