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Old 09-18-2012, 09:12 AM   #1
Anabran
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Over rated Authors-Isaac Asimov

Hi
have you ever finally gotten around to reading some legendary works of a very famous& celebrated genre author only to find yourself asking: What??.. are they kidding me??

I experienced this earlier this year when ,after years of admiring the Michael whelen cover Art,
I finally got the "Great" Foundation series
by Isaac Asimov for my, then new, Kindle fire.
HORRIBLE just... HORRIBLE!!!

I bailed out of Foundation about 2/3 of the way through and never revisited the series.

First it all seemed awfully dated with his talk about "nuclear powered" this and that

Second the complete lack of powerful or relevant, influential female characters.
it read like a cheesy 1950's sci fi novel where all women are just "secretaries"

Third Asimov let his (IMHO) Rabid Atheism color his linguistic choices to the point of sounding goofy & ridiculous.

OK We get it
He does not believe in a Diety or a God
his choice his freedom.

but to make this repeated effort to replace the word GOD with "space" in a fictional setting, makes his books look like they were post edited& censored by some totalitarian to "Committee of intellectual purity"

For example many people in a stressful situation who might say:
"I swear to God Captain we did not order that attack on those civilians !!"
are just using a linguistic expression they are not even religious people per say.

but to have them say: "I swear by Space etc etc." just sounds silly and goofy.

And his characters were shallow and uninteresting most times lacking even a physical description to help the reader Visualize the scenes.

Asimov may have been a great Science& technology Visionary

but as a Science fiction writer he just plain SUCKS!!.

Last edited by Anabran; 09-18-2012 at 10:13 AM.
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Old 09-18-2012, 09:19 AM   #2
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Consider his era. You can't compare his writing to modern writing, things have changed both in the SF world and in our culture.

And Asimove was never particularly a character-driven author; he mostly dealt with Ideas.

For it's time, Foundation was revolutionary.
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Old 09-18-2012, 09:20 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Anabran View Post
First it all seemed awfully dated with his talk about "nuclear powered" this and that

Second the complete lack of powerful or relevant, influential female characters.
it read like a cheesy 1950's sci fi novel where all women are just "secretaries"
You're reading a book first published in 1951 and complaining that it read like a cheesy 1950's sci fi novel. File under: useless criticism.
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Old 09-18-2012, 09:53 AM   #4
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I agree. Compared to other writers of his era, Asimov sounds like a child. Writing science fiction is no excuse.
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Old 09-18-2012, 09:57 AM   #5
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(Note: I'm a fan of Asimov's fiction, and I actually find his writing style rather pleasant. So don't expect truly objective text from me :-)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Anabran View Post
First it all seemed awfully dated with his talk about "nuclear powered" this and that
Well, it IS dated. Think about when it was written - consider it to be alternate future history, branching before the atomic age.
(Like steam punk, just atomic punk?)

Quote:
Second the complete lack of powerful or relevant, influential female characters.
it read like a cheesy 1950's sci fi novel where all women are just "secretaries"
Correct.
However, in his defense - you aren't going to see many strong females (apart perhaps from Dors Venabili?) or many relevant females at all because he does NOT want to display them all as "secretaries" and on the other hand didn't have much experience with women - so he didn't know how to write about them.
(He wrote about that in his autobiography - using the above explanation when asked why there are no women in his books. Seems sensible, IMO. Don't write about something you don't understand. Would you prefer women who are the supposed male's ideal?)

Quote:
Third Asimov let his (IMHO) Rabid Atheism color his linguistic choices to the point of sounding goofy & ridiculous.
True enough.
Though I think it can be easily explained that by the time of foundation there would be either one giant amalgamated church composed of all the "little" religions we have today, or be replaced by some sort of atheism/agnosticism (i.e. either the lowest common denominator or division by zero).
(Of course, since I consider myself to be agnostic - perhaps influenced by Asimov? I don't mind it. I think it's refreshing, and probably less problematic than choosing a religion at will.)

Quote:
And his characters were shallow and uninteresting most times lacking even a physical description to help the reader Visualize the scenes.
You probably won't read it, but there's a short story, "Gold", where he pokes fun at himself, having a character scorn a writer who seems unwilling to describe his characters beyond the necessary minimum.
The writers defense was - naturally - that this way the readers can supply the missing elements themselves, and that his stories rely on talk and ideas, not action and visuals.

Quote:
Asimov may have been a great Science& technology Visionary
For all his greatness, he didn't expect/realize that the Cassini Division isn't really a gap at all, even though, as he wrote, it should have been obvious that it can't be really empty.
(He said something like that in his autobiography. Seems to have bothered him quite a bit.)

Quote:
but as a Science fiction writer he just plain SUCKS!!.
Obviously I don't agree. But I can easily see why someone would think so.
Try Heinlein, might be more to your taste. To me, he's almost "too strong", compared to the "mild" Asimov literature.


Quote:
Originally Posted by holymadness View Post
I agree. Compared to other writers of his era, Asimov sounds like a child.
How so?

Quote:
Writing science fiction is no excuse.
Why should it?

Last edited by Cyberman tM; 09-18-2012 at 10:00 AM.
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Old 09-18-2012, 10:10 AM   #6
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Quote:

"You're reading a book first published in 1951 and complaining that it read like a cheesy 1950's sci fi novel."
Yes but it was supposed to set in the Distant future and the most advance future tech this so called" visionary" he could imagine was nuclear power.

A Truly Talented Sci fiWriter Like Frank Herbert Wrote Dune in the 1960's its Future tech was way more imaginative as well as his Characters but.... Oh no!!I just mentioned Asimov and Frank Herbert in the same forum post about Sci fi writers
My deepest Apologies to Fellow Frank Herbert Fans.
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Old 09-18-2012, 10:18 AM   #7
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Foundation was first published in 1942. It was first published as a novel in 1951, but it had previouosly appeared in 8 installments of Austounding Magazine between May 1942 and January 1950. So, it's seventy years old, of course it is dated. How much science fiction from 1942 isn't dated? And yes, it seems like science fiction from the 1950's, because it is from the 1940's. And yes, the female characters are lacking, but that's true of most science fiction from that era.

Asimov was an atheist, yes, but I've never heard of him being described as "rabid". Nevertheless, being offended by it doesn't mean he's a bad writer.
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Old 09-18-2012, 10:20 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Anabran View Post
Yes but it was supposed to set in the Distant future and the most advance future tech this so called" visionary" he could imagine was nuclear power.

A Truly Talented Sci fiWriter Like Frank Herbert Wrote Dune in the 1960's its Future tech was way more imaginative as well as his Characters but.... Oh no!!I just mentioned Asimov and Frank Herbert in the same forum post about Sci fi writers
My deepest Apologies to Fellow Frank Herbert Fans.
The last time I checked, the 1940's were much earlier than the 1960's. Objection overruled.
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Old 09-18-2012, 10:41 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Anabran View Post
Yes but it was supposed to set in the Distant future and the most advance future tech this so called" visionary" he could imagine was nuclear power.
And the pocket computer, and miniaturization of electronics.

I like Asimov for his exploration of ideas like the collapse of a galactic civilization, the effects of robotics (a word he invented), etc.

It is always easy to judge earlier science fiction in the light of today's technology. Not so easy to write of the future and not be considered "outdated" down the road.
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Old 09-18-2012, 10:49 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RDaneel54 View Post
And the pocket computer, and miniaturization of electronics.

I like Asimov for his exploration of ideas like the collapse of a galactic civilization, the effects of robotics (a word he invented), etc.

It is always easy to judge earlier science fiction in the light of today's technology. Not so easy to write of the future and not be considered "outdated" down the road.
I agree. For his time his vision was ahead of most Science Fiction of the time. How will people see the Science Fiction of now in seventy years? I bet dated and unrealistic.
And remember the Atomic Bomb was only theory when Foundation was written.
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Old 09-18-2012, 10:52 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cyberman tM View Post
How so?
He is not a very strong manipulator of language. His plots are simplistic, as he prefers imagining the contours of alternate universes to creating interesting and intricate storylines. He created no memorable characters in his lifetime.

If we compare him to his contemporaries—Raymond Chandler, Tennessee Williams, William Faulkner, George Orwell, Albert Camus, Arthur Miller, Evelyn Waugh, Ernest Hemingway, John Steinbeck—there is really no question that he was a minor, minor figure in letters at the time. Had he not popularized science fiction along with Clarke and Heinlein, I think he would be forgotten today.

He has the merit of being a visionary, but not a particularly good writer.
Quote:
Why should it?
I don't think it should. Some others in the thread are saying that because 1950s sci-fi movies/pulp fiction were cheesy, Asimov somehow has the right to be just as cheesy.

Sci-fi should be held to the same standard as all literature.
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Old 09-18-2012, 10:58 AM   #12
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I believe the OP would be more pleased by some of the Isaac Asimov / Robert Silverberg re-workings:

The Positronic Man
Nightfall
The Ugly Little Boy

Agree w/ everyone else to the effect that one has to judge Asimov by when he was writing and what had come before.

Moreover, ``if I have seen further it is because I stand on the shoulders of giants'' --- w/o him, there wouldn't be science fiction as we know it now --- he's a huge influence, directly or indirectly to pretty much every SF author now writing.

William
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Old 09-18-2012, 10:58 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RDaneel54 View Post
And the pocket computer, and miniaturization of electronics.

I like Asimov for his exploration of ideas like the collapse of a galactic civilization, the effects of robotics (a word he invented), etc.

It is always easy to judge earlier science fiction in the light of today's technology. Not so easy to write of the future and not be considered "outdated" down the road.
And do not forget "The three laws of robotics". The computers in his time when most of his works were written ran on vacuum tubes and were the size of a good size house of the times. Solid state and microchips at the time were not even a dream until the 1950's.

Sure he is dated, but when reading him one has to keep in mind the ways of the world he lived in, when he wrote his works.
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Old 09-18-2012, 10:58 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cyberman tM View Post
You probably won't read it, but there's a short story, "Gold", where he pokes fun at himself, having a character scorn a writer who seems unwilling to describe his characters beyond the necessary minimum.
He also mercilessly pokes fun at himself in the (very good) murder mystery "Murder at the ABA", in which Asimov writes himself in as a character in the story. Well worth reading, in case anyone hasn't.
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Old 09-18-2012, 11:03 AM   #15
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Reminds me of this:

http://b.holyjeeb.us/post/1962690311...w-bram-stokers
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