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Old 09-19-2012, 01:31 AM   #76
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DrNeferio said
"I found Foundation quite boring too, although the dated technology was kind of charming. At least he had computers with visual displays. I also read Heinlein's Farmer in the Sky earlier this year, where they still use slide-rules."

What do you mean, still using? When that was written, that was all that was available. If you were really lucky you might have an adding machine. A large organization may have a few mechanical calculators that could actually do multiplication and division. They were big, they were noisy and they were expensive. Cheap four function calculators first appeared in the mid seventies. I still remember the first pocket scientific calculator, the HP-35, and it was over $300 at the time.

The technology of all sf from before the sixties will seem hopelessly outdated. Nobody anticipated the revolution that solid state electronics would create. But in the same fashion, heroines (and heroes) dying of TB seems quaint in the age of over abundant antibiotics.

Asimov, Heinlein and the others were first and foremost story tellers who told stories of the future as it might unfold from where they were looking. And for the most part, they are great stories.
Asimov didn't write
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Old 09-19-2012, 04:39 AM   #77
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I'd be interested to know what the OP does like.
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Old 09-19-2012, 04:55 AM   #78
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I prefer Asimov's short stories to his novels, especially his mystery stories. The "Black Widowers" stories are excellent, I think.
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Old 09-19-2012, 05:36 AM   #79
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That said, one SF author that I think is massively overrated is Niven. Urgh :/
Ringworld is excellent (and the first couple of sequels), though I don't like his other stuff.

Speaking of overrated, what's the big fuss about Heinlein? Starship Troopers is okay, and I read Have Spacesuit, Will Travel when I was a kid and enjoyed it. But IMO he's not even close to Asimov or Clarke.

Another overrated book is The Forever War. It's alright, but it's nothing special. I dunno. Different blokes different strokes, I guess.
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Old 09-19-2012, 05:46 AM   #80
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DrNeferio said
"I found Foundation quite boring too, although the dated technology was kind of charming. At least he had computers with visual displays. I also read Heinlein's Farmer in the Sky earlier this year, where they still use slide-rules."

What do you mean, still using? When that was written, that was all that was available. If you were really lucky you might have an adding machine. A large organization may have a few mechanical calculators that could actually do multiplication and division. They were big, they were noisy and they were expensive. Cheap four function calculators first appeared in the mid seventies. I still remember the first pocket scientific calculator, the HP-35, and it was over $300 at the time.

The technology of all sf from before the sixties will seem hopelessly outdated. Nobody anticipated the revolution that solid state electronics would create. But in the same fashion, heroines (and heroes) dying of TB seems quaint in the age of over abundant antibiotics.

Asimov, Heinlein and the others were first and foremost story tellers who told stories of the future as it might unfold from where they were looking. And for the most part, they are great stories.
Asimov didn't write
First I generally like Asimov. Heinlein not so much, but heck when I was a kid, you didn't have much choice. The only thing good about Heinlein's "Stranger in a strange land" was that very line.
Asimov had much better material, but I agree Foundation was kind of a bore to me. A lot of friends loved it though.

As for the calculators, I remember the mechanical ones you speak of that could do multiplication and division. They had a big, big keyboard about a 10 inches wide and about the same wide. There were rows of mechanical keys. I don't remember how many but maybe 10 or more rows on some.
When they multiplied or divided the wheels inside would spin and make a tremendous whine. The ones that added weren't so noisy, as I remember. There was a part of the machine on the top that would slide left and right as it calculated, lining things up internally. All mechanical except for the motor that drove the apparatus.

Some ladies at the base used them. They had been around for years. The ladies and the machines.



The first real scientific electronic calculators appeared early 70s I believe. HP brought the 35 out, then the 45 and finally the 65 which was programmable. I only saw demonstrations of those.
Before that you could get a 4 function electronic calculator for maybe a $100 and remember that $100 was a lot more than a $100 today. What people wanted was a 4 function with a square root key which could do interesting calculations. There were books on it.
But sometime after the HP 35 came out, TI (I think) brought out the SR 70 calculator or something like that. (I can't multitask right now and look it up.) I remember it was about $169 or $179 and got everyone excited.

I do remember getting a Commodore Navigational calculator around 1978 or 79. It was a wonder. LED machine. Always used it with external power. I think it had batteries. Not sure now. Don't know the cost. I just signed for it.

Before that it was slide rules both like a stick and circular slide rules. Some people had problems with them.

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Old 09-19-2012, 06:36 AM   #81
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Since we're talking about calculating machines.
Has one of you read Asimov's "End of Eternity" ? It took me a while to figure out that a "computer" was actually a human being that worked with computing machines, not a sentient calculator...

Paul French is nice. A bit corny(?) perhaps, but it was made for TV, so...

Unintentional funny - in the first book he establishes the new name and the great gadget the hero gets from the aliens - just to never use either again...
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Old 09-19-2012, 07:48 AM   #82
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Quote:
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The only thing good about Heinlein's "Stranger in a strange land" was that very line.
Again with the different strokes. I loved everything about Stranger in a Strange Land. Still do.

It's funny to see so many people defend an author/work they feel someone has maligned by pointing out other authors/works they feel are even more deserving of a good maligning.

I'm not a fan of Asimov's writing. That's all I'm really qualified to state. The rest of what I could say is personal preference and subjective hoo-hah that isn't relevant to anyone else (except coincidentally). "Overrated" is a term used when someone just can't accept the fact that their tastes aren't universal. There's no way to use it without seeming to say; "I know better than all of you."

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Old 09-19-2012, 08:07 AM   #83
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All sci-fi authors who write about the future of humanity are worse than outdated : they are irrelevant, since humanity is self-destroying itself, fast destroying nature. Their writings are all dwarfed by those of this genius (IQ = 167) and real visionary :
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ted_Kaczynski

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Old 09-19-2012, 08:16 AM   #84
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I'd be interested to know what the OP does like.
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Old 09-19-2012, 08:20 AM   #85
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No, no, NO! Anyone who thinks Issac Asimov is a bad writer definitely must read John Norman.


As a penence...

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Old 09-19-2012, 08:23 AM   #86
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If you want children, have children. If you don't, then don't. You probably know what is best for you.
Well unless you are being controlled by aliens, in your brain or beaming thoughts in..
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Old 09-19-2012, 08:42 AM   #87
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Geez, kenneyc, must you give this debate all the respect it deserves?
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Old 09-19-2012, 08:53 AM   #88
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If you think the Foundation series is badly written, please stay as far away as possible from the Lucky Starr series he wrote as "Paul French." They're a slight step up from Tom Corbett space cadet books. I've been reading a lot of 50s and 40s science fiction lately, in comparison Asimov is well beyond them in regards to his ideas, but his writing style is very much pulp SF. It's what was being read, and what he had to use to get his ideas out there.
Interesting that you bring up Tom Corbett Vis-a-vis Lucky Starr. The Lucky Starr books were conceived as companions to a proposed TV show Asimov was consulting on (Intended to compete with Tom Corbett) and they were intended for what 50's editors viewed as Young Adults. That the science was as "accurate" as it is (for the time) was Asimov going above and beyond the requirements of the effort.

Pulpishness and dated science aside, the books are still quite readable; especially the latter ones where Asimov folded them into his 50 worlds millieau.
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Old 09-19-2012, 09:29 AM   #89
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DrNeferio said
"I found Foundation quite boring too, although the dated technology was kind of charming. At least he had computers with visual displays. I also read Heinlein's Farmer in the Sky earlier this year, where they still use slide-rules."

What do you mean, still using? When that was written, that was all that was available. If you were really lucky you might have an adding machine. A large organization may have a few mechanical calculators that could actually do multiplication and division. They were big, they were noisy and they were expensive. Cheap four function calculators first appeared in the mid seventies. I still remember the first pocket scientific calculator, the HP-35, and it was over $300 at the time.
Foundation pre-dates Farmer in the Sky, and in Foundation they use calculating machines with (monochrome) displays, whereas in Farmer they use slide rules.

Of course, Farmer in the Sky is set in the near future (maybe even past, now, I forget), after we colonised Ganymede in the 1980s, and Foundation is set in what is presumably the far future, of galactic empires, although I'm not sure it's related to Earth's timeline at all.

I don't hold the moving goalposts against either of them, or any of the other thousands of SF books that have been overtaken by history. I find the past views of the future quite interesting, in fact.

That doesn't make Asimov's books any more appealing. I still have to read Second Foundation and Foundation's Edge as part of my Hugo read-through, and I can't say I'm especially looking forward to them.

When I was growing up, the Big Three were Asimov, Clarke and Heinlein, and I have never really liked any of them. Asimov and Clarke tend to be very flat and dry, and while Heinlein can tell a good tale, he does tend to beat you around the head with some objectionable views while he's at it. They've all written at least one book I like, I just don't consider myself a fan of any of them.
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Old 09-19-2012, 09:34 AM   #90
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When I was growing up, the Big Three were Asimov, Clarke and Heinlein, and I have never really liked any of them. Asimov and Clarke tend to be very flat and dry, and while Heinlein can tell a good tale, he does tend to beat you around the head with some objectionable views while he's at it. They've all written at least one book I like, I just don't consider myself a fan of any of them.
I love Heinlen's early stuff, but his later novels I think are just dreadful. Books like "Space Cadet" and "Starman Jones", though, are great.
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