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.
I’m actually glad I decided to rad the whole of Asimov’s Foundation trilogy Foundation, Foundation and Empire, & Second Foundation instead of just the first (or another book) though I don’t think I’ll make much of a habit out of blurring through all series that way.
The stories, flashing back as I read through each again, were solid tales interwoven across hundreds of years and spanning a broad scope of ideas.
Last night, Claire and I stumbled on a YouTube video. Someone had compiled a collection of “future predictions” from the mid-twentieth century and was doing a kind of “react” video in response. I couldn’t help but think that these books I was in the process of reading were a lot like that: broad and bold predictions about atomic power and spaceships and intergalactic conquest, but cluttered with ideas that envisioned a future of knobs and switches rather than touchscreens, static-filled transmitters instead of the internet, and that white-picket fence Disney-style utopianism of 1950s, post-war Americana spread out across the galaxy. It is a curious set of novels if for no other reason than the prognosticating optimism of it all, but couched by this barely-past World War Two sensibility of duty and patriotism.
Science Fiction ideally tells a story about the present but set in the future. So a science fiction classic now displaced sixty years out of time is a bit of a puzzle: what was it telling the 1950s? What was it trying to say, to imply, to prove between the lines of this curious story of a failing galactic empire and the push to preserve knowledge against the tumbling crash?