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Old 09-19-2012, 09:40 AM   #91
b0ned0me
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A Truly Talented Sci fiWriter Like Frank Herbert Wrote Dune in the 1960's its Future tech was way more imaginative
I haven't read any of Herbert's stuff for a long time, but from what I recall his 'future tech' was a bit more towards the 'fantasy' end of the spectrum than Asimov's. Nothing wrong with that, there are two parts to Science Fiction and writers are free to pick which they emphasise.

However one particular problem the more 'sciency' writers suffer from is that they are punished for being real visionaries rather than speculating wildly, because their ideas are close enough to reality to be either mundanely ordinary or recognisably a bit wrong.
e.g. Heinlein who nailed the whole cell phone thing in the late forties - so well that sixty years later the only bits you notice are the minor wrongnesses (no-none answers their own cellphone by reciting their name and number).
This simply isn't an issue for those who fabricate an extraordinary McGuffin from whole cloth when the story calls for one. Something like Herbert's 'spice' isn't ever going to collide with our everyday experience of reality, for instance.
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Old 09-19-2012, 09:48 AM   #92
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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.
See, I'm the complete opposite. I love Heinlein's later stuff and find his early novels a tad silly. But that probably has everything to do with the fact that I never read any Heinlein until after I was nearly a jaded adult. I had no nostalgic, boyhood Have Spacesuit—Will Travel-reading memories with which to influence/temper my later reading experiences.
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Old 09-19-2012, 09:50 AM   #93
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Third Asimov let his (IMHO) Rabid Atheism color his linguistic choices
now you really got to the crux of it, huh?

Asimov as others told, is not really about characters. The ideas and concepts are awesome, though.

Read his "The last question". Short and sweet pulp classic tale, though wholy anachronic by now. Should bring a smile to your face.
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Old 09-19-2012, 10:37 AM   #94
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If you're going to be bothered by details like slide rules and no cell phones, perhaps you shouldn't read SF. It's like complaining about a 70s novel picturing future appliances in avocado and harvest gold. The stories weren't about those details and today's SF will get just as many details wrong when we look back decades later.

Besides it's in the future, how do you know interstellar space travel won't require slide rules?
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Old 09-19-2012, 11:00 AM   #95
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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.
I agree with you there, Harry. I love his "juvenile" novels.

He was always a good story teller, even to the end. But the stories got stranger the older he got. To be fair, there are a lot stranger writers out there; but the change in his writing bothered me. Maybe it was a loss of innocence on my part.
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Old 09-19-2012, 11:08 AM   #96
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I really like Heinlein. I feel that 'By His Bootstraps' is still one of the best time-travel novelettes. I know that several people complain about his believes or ideas, but personally I don't see it in his novels. Stranger is also one of my favorites.
Clarke and Asimov I also like, but don't care much for Foundation. I find the short stories of Asimov much better as his Robot novels.

Another real favorite of mine is Jack Vance. He can really play with words and tell a good tale.
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Old 09-19-2012, 11:15 AM   #97
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Besides it's in the future, how do you know interstellar space travel won't require slide rules?
It did occur to me that if you can't rely on power, a slide-rule might be a better choice, but I've never used one and have no idea how they work. I'm a victim of progress. (Although at least I do know how to work things out on paper.)
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Old 09-19-2012, 12:05 PM   #98
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It did occur to me that if you can't rely on power, a slide-rule might be a better choice, but I've never used one and have no idea how they work. I'm a victim of progress. (Although at least I do know how to work things out on paper.)
I'm thinking that it you can't rely on power then a spaceship is probably not the best idea.

You could always say that hyperspace messes up computers (alters the conductivity of silicon or some such) so all spaceships need to be manually operated - Steampunk in space
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Old 09-19-2012, 01:16 PM   #99
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Another essay I read (can't even remember who wrote it) renamed science fiction as speculative fiction-and I like that name better. What *I* like to read are stories that make you think. For me it's usually not about the people but about their society. People don't change due to scientific advancement-but societies do. The same, to a lesser extent, is true of philosophical 'advancement'.
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Old 09-19-2012, 01:42 PM   #100
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Originally Posted by DrNefario View Post
It did occur to me that if you can't rely on power, a slide-rule might be a better choice, but I've never used one and have no idea how they work. I'm a victim of progress. (Although at least I do know how to work things out on paper.)
We learned to use one in high school in the early 70s. It may still be in storage somewhere at my mother's house. We never had a chance to use it practically.
I remember there was one guy in my Algebra class that had a calculator but it was prohibitively expensive and he wasn't allowed to use it in class or for tests.
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Old 09-19-2012, 01:48 PM   #101
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Just a couple of thoughts on what people have said.

1. People tend to treat the Foundation Trilogy as a set of novels; its not. It is really a collection of short fiction (from short story to novella length). In science fiction its generally difficult to focus much on characters and still make it an SF story in short fiction. While he was never a great character writer, the characters in his true novels do tend to have a bit more depth to them. Maybe not three dimensional, but maybe 2.5 dimensional .

2. Dune, published more than 2 decades after foundation escapes some of the datedness of Foundation by essentially throwing out any technology we recognize. Computers are banned, atomics likewise by strong social conventions. Lots of other normal technology is explained away by a single revolutionary (and implausible I might add) technology. Spice is a gigantic McGuffin. It all works. Dune is truly one of great SF books of all time and remains readable today without seeming overly dated. Dune Messiah was pretty good as well. Frankly, though I read them, I think the rest of the series was average at best.

3. On Heinlein. I think he was truly visionary in the early years and for me, remained highly readable up through the mid-60s. After that, the weirdness first displayed in Stranger in a Strange Land seems to become the norm.

So, is any of it great literature? I don't know. I expect that judgment will be made in about 50 years. Some that are held up as great now will likely be mostly forgotten and others denigrated might be considered new classics.

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Old 09-19-2012, 01:50 PM   #102
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Originally Posted by RDaneel54 View Post
I agree with you there, Harry. I love his "juvenile" novels.

He was always a good story teller, even to the end. But the stories got stranger the older he got. To be fair, there are a lot stranger writers out there; but the change in his writing bothered me. Maybe it was a loss of innocence on my part.
The rule for Heinlein is to start with the books that are under an inch thick, then go on from there.

I like most of his books through the 1970s, his 80s novels not as much.
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Old 09-19-2012, 01:53 PM   #103
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That is not the question.

The question is whether women should aspire to be ONLY wives and mothers and nothing else, or not.

You can valorize motherhood and childbirth without thinking it's the end-all-be-all of existence for half the human race.

Don't be sexist.
I think that women should be free to aspire to be what they want without being looked down upon by others.

As an adolescent, Asimov was one of my favorite authors. I loved his settings, and being a nerd, the lack of character never registered on my radar. I will have to dust off some of the old books and see how they aged.
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Old 09-19-2012, 02:24 PM   #104
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Other opinions on Isaac Asimov and his work:

1987 Grand Master Award Winner
1960 Hugo for best all time series, "Foundation" (of all things!)
1973 Hugo for novel, "The Gods Themselves"
1977 Hugo for novelette, "The Bicentennial Man"
1983 Hugo for novel, "Foundation's Edge" (again for this series?)

Several other Hugos, Nebulas you can look up.

I think these Science Fiction award guys know good writing.

Dean (who didn't pick RDaneel54 as his monicker because he thought Asimov's writing was bad.)
The Hugo is voted on by members of Worldcon so anybody who pay a supporting membership can vote. And looking at how people vote you will see that you cannot trust their taste... And good writing is usually not winning over old fashioned sf stories.
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Old 09-19-2012, 02:45 PM   #105
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If you're going to ignore the Hugo Awards because they were chosen by readers as well as writers, then how about the Nebula Awards, chosen by writers? Just because you don't like the books that won the Hugo Awards doesn't mean that they are wrong.

Nebula awards for best Novel:

1983 Isaac Asimov Foundation's Edge
1973 Isaac Asimov The Gods Themselves

Best Novelette:

1977 Isaac Asimov The Bicentennial Man

Best Short Story

1966 Isaac Asimov Eyes Do More Than See
1966 Isaac Asimov Founding Father
1987 Isaac Asimov Robot Dreams

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