Date: 2019-02-02 12:09 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Surprisingly gentle responses... I mean, I love the Foundation stories - they were foundational for me, but that was 40-some years ago (for me).

Date: 2019-02-02 06:17 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
foundational


<rimshot>

Date: 2019-02-02 08:41 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I couldn't resist (not that I tried to).

Date: 2019-02-02 04:00 am (UTC)
nelc: (Default)
From: [personal profile] nelc
This set of reviews is making me want to buy a walking-stick just so I can shake it at them.

They've got a point about the cheesy effects and the lack of women, though. The distinct sound of the Radiophonics Workshop makes me nostalgic, even so.

Date: 2019-02-02 08:32 am (UTC)
roseembolism: (getoutta)
From: [personal profile] roseembolism
As far as it goes, Mikayla made a trenchent point that even I miss, given that I tend to be absorbed with the ridiculousness of the premise: why Empire? Why is it assumed that an Empire is even a good idea in the first place, given the horrible history of Empires on Earth?

I mean seriously, what the hell is it with white male SF writers and Empires? Dont they have any imagination? Why not a Minoan palace economy? Or tribes united by potlatches? Or anything? Why assume that civilization was synonomous with the cruel despotism of Empire?
Edited Date: 2019-02-02 08:33 am (UTC)

Date: 2019-02-02 01:47 pm (UTC)
jsburbidge: (Default)
From: [personal profile] jsburbidge
Because of Gibbon. Asimov wrote Foundation in reaction to Gibbon, so "empire" was sort of a given.

It's also worth noting that the explicit theme of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire is that people generally were more prosperous and peaceful under the Antonines than at any other recorded time and that things had gone downhill from there for a very long time. Modern historians wouldn't put it quite as blatantly - the Dark Ages aren't seen as quite as dark and the costs of empire are a little more emphasized, but it's still a tenable thesis if you have a cutoff before the invention of the eighteenth century agricultural revolution and the twentieth century development of antibiotics. (Modernity may not have looked all that great to Asimov at the time of Foundation, either, between the Depression and the Second World War.)

Date: 2019-02-02 03:10 pm (UTC)
graydon: (Default)
From: [personal profile] graydon
I think it might be generalizable to control fantasy; the idea that somehow, somewhere in the future, it will be possible to run an empire for a long period of time and have it be fair and just and stable, so that everyone is safe in their bed (and has a bed, and a home to go to). This is completely wrong -- you can't do it, control like that is necessarily a horror -- but the basis for it being completely wrong was being worked out around the time Asimov started writing the Foundation stories.

This is a bit similar to the Dickens/Kipling disjunction; Dickens never sounds modern, Kipling still can. There's a change in the general understanding of the world in there. We hit one in the the sixties, and we're hitting another one now. It's really hard and takes sustained effort to get anybody's body of work into the future when that happens. (Dickens and Hardy aren't going to make it this time, for example. I kinda doubt any of the SF "big three" will.)

Date: 2019-02-02 11:34 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] ba_munronoe
Just out of curiosity, why do you think Dickens won't make it past our current discontinuity? (Besides the possible collapse of civilization and all that. :) )

Date: 2019-02-02 11:54 pm (UTC)
graydon: (Default)
From: [personal profile] graydon
site:tumblr.com "personal history of david copperfield"

gives 142 hits. There's fan favourites in that cast in period costumes. No shortage of PR pictures.

More generally, the canon can only get so large; the pressure to make room in it for non-white and non-male voices is great (and correct!). Dickens isn't attached to anything that'll tend to keep him in the canon.

Date: 2019-02-03 02:24 am (UTC)
austin_dern: Inspired by Krazy Kat, of kourse. (Default)
From: [personal profile] austin_dern
Um. A Christmas Carol.

Date: 2019-02-03 02:30 am (UTC)
graydon: (Default)
From: [personal profile] graydon
One work known chiefly through visual adaptations is not at all the same thing as keeping a place in the canon. It'd be like saying Burns is in the canon because most people can sing some of the words to Auld Lang Syne.

Date: 2019-02-04 10:39 pm (UTC)
scott_sanford: (Default)
From: [personal profile] scott_sanford
Please let lazy TV shows adapt anything other than A Christmas Carol.

Date: 2019-02-03 04:22 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] ba_munronoe
"Dickens isn't attached to anything that'll tend to keep him in the canon."

Besides English Literature departments. :)
Edited Date: 2019-02-03 04:23 am (UTC)

Date: 2019-02-03 04:31 am (UTC)
graydon: (Default)
From: [personal profile] graydon
There are increasingly few humanities departments of any kind; conversion of universities to a cash-for-job-qualification scheme is about complete.

I expect the surviving english departments to simply not have the option of pretending nothing has changed, and in the ongoing struggle for the canon, it doesn't seem to me likely that Dickens is going to make it. I could easily be wrong about that, but some of the canon is certainly going to shift. There are people today advancing English literature canons with no white men authors represented at all, and it's not as though they have any difficulty finding sufficient notable works.

Date: 2019-02-04 11:46 am (UTC)
jsburbidge: (Default)
From: [personal profile] jsburbidge
With the possible exception of Hugh Kenner, none of my graduate school professors had much use for a Canon (one wrote a collection of essays called _Is There A Text in This Class?_).

Honestly, internally, the English Literature discipline has become attached to the generation of new readings for old texts. Canonicity is optional; those texts might be only precursors or cousins of "canonical" texts. Dickens will survive just fine there, much as Scott has. (It's safe to assume that doctoral students will still need to demonstrate familiarity with him for comprehensives.)

Canons that count need more than just English Departments to maintain them: they need some form of social support (traditionally elite: it was an elite acceptance of the Classics that maintained them for fifteen hundred years). The idea of an English Canon isn't that old: and about a century ago the newish English Departments were coasting on the agreed preeminence of an accepted set of English "modern" authors, from Shakespeare to Wordsworth, more than defining them. And the discipline of English Literature, since the advent of the theory wars, has been seen as out-of-touch.

Dickens continues to sell well enough in series like the Penguin English Classics, but they go well beyond any core Canon. He has dropped out of the Ontario school curriculum - I had Hard Times and Great Expectations in Grade 8 and Grade 10, respectively, and my daughter, currently in Grade 11, has had no Dickens; to that degree he's already dropped out. The undergraduate curriculum of my undergraduate university has fragmented in a way that moves away from any form of teaching canonicity.

Date: 2019-02-02 03:55 pm (UTC)
philrm: (Default)
From: [personal profile] philrm
That was pretty much my reaction when I read the Foundation Trilogy (in my early 20s): there seemed to be no point in rebuilding the Empire except to make sure that everyone was uniformly oppressed. I did think the idea of psychohistory was great, but it was far too detailed and specific in its predictions.

I mean seriously, what the hell is it with white male SF writers and Empires?
Maybe you should ask Ann Leckie and Aliette de Bodard. ;)

Date: 2019-02-03 10:36 am (UTC)
roseembolism: (Default)
From: [personal profile] roseembolism
Leckie at least takes the position that Empires are honestly pretty horrific and exploitative. From what I've seen of Aliette de Bodard's work, she takes a similar tack.

Date: 2019-02-03 04:23 pm (UTC)
philrm: (Default)
From: [personal profile] philrm
Oh, I totally agree. My point was simply that white male SF writers aren't the only ones drawn to Galactic empire settings. (I should have included Yoon Ha Lee as well.) Leckie dreamt up an empire that is far more appalling than anything we see in Foundation (which of course does not mean that Asimov's empire is not pretty horrific and exploitative), but her Ancillary trilogy doesn't even posit an end to it; the now-singular Breq merely takes advantage of her place in the Raadch civil war to free one system from the empire. And none of de Bodard's Da Vliet Empire (as cruel and autocratic as any Earth empire you could think of) stories that I've read feature protagonists who wish to bring it down; at worst they're merely attempting to survive in it.

Date: 2019-02-02 09:02 am (UTC)
conuly: (Default)
From: [personal profile] conuly
My takeaway from Foundation (and also some of the Robots books): All the hard science fanboys need to shut up about the wrong type of science in their sci-fi, because no lesser light than Asimov was utterly enamored with sociology. I'm not convinced he fully understood the subject, but that's not the point.

Date: 2019-02-02 01:16 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Amusingly, Asimov justified psychohistory by analogy with statistical mechanics, but I don't think Asimov ever knew that when statistical mechanics was developed, part of its inspiration was the previous development of social statistics. Maxwell wrote:

"The modern atomists have therefore adopted a method which is I believe new in the department of mathematical physics, though it has long been in use in the Section of Statistics. When the working members of Section F get hold of a Report of the Census, or any other document containing the numerical data of Economic and Social Science, they begin by distributing the whole population into groups, according to age, income-tax, education, religious belief, or criminal convictions. The number of individuals is far too great to allow of their tracing the history of each separately, so that, in order to reduce their labour within human limits, they concentrate their attention on a small number of artificial groups. The varying number of individuals in each group, and not the varying state of each individual, is the primary datum from which they work."

(note that the very word "statistics" suggests its original as pertaining to information relevant to the State).

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