Re: Asimov's Foundation novels

52
So I am a bit more than halfway through my re-read of the 7-book Foundation series. Last night I finished Foundation's Edge, the first sequel to the original trilogy. It strongly reinforced my perception of the sequels and prequels being better than the original books. About the first book and a half of the original trilogy are a real slog to get through, not only because they are dated and there is essentially no character development (other than how somebody puffs a cigar), but also because Asimov simply wasn't as good a writer then. Contrast that with Foundation's Edge, which to me is a real page-turner. It's one that given enough time (ie, not restricted to about an hour in the evening), I could read cover to cover. And it's much thicker than any of the earlier books (though some of that is due to larger print). There is character development (even if sometimes stereotypical, e.g, the old professor constantly calling his companion "dear chap" and so forth), and in spite of the book still being 99% people talking, it moves along.

That said, I was surprised by one thing rereading Foundation's Edge this time: the rather sexist treatment of the female characters. The female speaker from the Second Foundation and the Mayor of Terminus are presented essentially as villains, and Bliss, the native of Gaia introduced near the end, is presented to be viewed as a sex object by the male characters. The old professor is clearly smitten by her, though ironically, she is essentially a topic of derision for his Lothario companion. This guy derides her for being female and young. At the end, he explains why he reacts to her that way instead of bedding her (let's just say he thinks she isn't human), but it doesn't erase the impression of rudeness from his earlier behavior. I suppose this is probably about the fourth time I've read Foundation's Edge, but I don't recall ever picking up on that before. I don't recall that this behavior continues in Foundation and Earth (which I hope to begin again tonight), so it can be shrugged off and doesn't, at least for me, detract from the overall enjoyment of the novel.

I wonder how the TV series will handle the later books. I hope they don't constantly have clone emperors popping up in the midst of the story. That would be a detour from the author's story worse than Elves showing up at Helm's Deep.
"Olorin I was in the West that is forgotten...."

Re: Asimov's Foundation novels

53
I am wondering how Trantor will be depicted visually in the Apple show. The second trailer showed a couple of shots that are presumably it, but which just looked like a big city, not even necessarily that futuristic. Asimov's description of it in the books is a bit vague early on: planet-encircling city, soaring towers to exchange heat with the atmosphere. In the later books, Trantor is no longer a major player and is "off-screen." The prequels return to Trantor and in Prelude to Foundation, Asimov descries the planet in fair detail. Though it is still one enormous city, it is clear that it was separate cities that grew together, and each is covered by a dome, such that the surface appears as a vast collection of domes. Moreover, windblown soil has partially covered the domes, such that the valleys between them support limited plant life, even trees in some instances. This is, I'd say, definitely at variance with even the vague descriptions from the early books.

I don't suppose it matters, because the show will make it look like whatever they think it should look like. But it seems to me that since Asimov went to some pains to describe it, they should at least somewhat follow that, especially as it would help prevent comparisons to that other Imperial planet totally inspired by Trantor: Coruscant.
"Olorin I was in the West that is forgotten...."

Re: Asimov's Foundation novels

56
Honestly, I think the skeleton of Asimov's story is very evident in the trailers. It's just that they have hung considerable meat on those bones that may not look like what old-time Asimov readers are expecting. They have definitely made some changes, like the clone emperors, but some of what you're seeing that doesn't look familiar may be because I think they are incorporating elements of the prequels, or at least of the second prequel, Forward the Foundation, into the story. For example, the young black man whom Hari embraces is, I am pretty sure, supposed to be Raych, his adopted son from the prequels. Also, IIRC in the second prequel there is considerable unrest on Trantor leading up the the departure of the group going to settle Terminus. I think they are also following the school of trailer production that says, put a lot of big flashy things on screen to draw in the Great Unwashed, and count on the Faithful to show up anyway.

I also saw a video where David Goyer talks more about the production over scenes from the new trailer. He does admit that they have not stuck absolutely strictly to the books but one of their goals was to make the story more intimate and emotional, which let's face it, the earlier books were not. He also said they very much wanted to steer away from the look and feel of the main pillars of sci fi movies that most people are familiar with, which are primarily Star Wars and Star Trek, with maybe a smidgen of Alien worked in. He said they challenged their visual artists to come up with a fresh look. That's an area where, at least basted on the trailers, I think they have succeeded in spades, however good or bad the show ends up being. Some of these planetary scenes in the trailers look like science fiction made incarnate, or at least my perception of it. Example, the ringed planet, which is the homeworld of Gaal Dornick. Stunning. He also said they shot on real locations, and for effects with miniatures instead of CGI, as much as possible, to make it feel real. As an adaptation, it may end up bleh, but it's going to look epic, IMHO.

All that said, we were never going to get a 100% faithful, literal adaptation of the Foundation books. I think if we have the mindset that this is a fantasia on Foundation, in the musical sense of improvising on a melody, and stay open to it, we will be entertained. He didn't say this in so many words, but I caught a strong echo of Peter Jackson from 20 years ago, saying that job #1 was to tell a good story and job #2 was fidelity. Most of us were reasonably pleased by the results of that approach to LOTR, and I am certainly willing to give Foundation a chance. If nothing else, remember that at one point not that may years ago, ROLAND EMMERICH was going to be making Foundation, and ponder how good a movie that would have been. I imagine it would have been along the lines of the dismal Starship Troopers movie, at best.
"Olorin I was in the West that is forgotten...."

Re: Asimov's Foundation novels

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https://youtu.be/gp7i4IA1niM

Tbis you tuber is basically saying a lot of the things that I was trying to convey. When all is said a d done, I think each person that has read the books and then watches the series is going to have to decide for themselves whether it deserves the name Foundation. I’m also thinking about a friend of mine who says about the Last Jedi, that it was a good movie, but maybe just not a good Star Wars movie.
"Olorin I was in the West that is forgotten...."

Re: Asimov's Foundation novels

58
Olorin wrote: Fri Aug 20, 2021 8:34 am https://youtu.be/gp7i4IA1niM

Tbis you tuber is basically saying a lot of the things that I was trying to convey. When all is said a d done, I think each person that has read the books and then watches the series is going to have to decide for themselves whether it deserves the name Foundation. I’m also thinking about a friend of mine who says about the Last Jedi, that it was a good movie, but maybe just not a good Star Wars movie.
Which is pretty much along the lines of "a movie loosely based on the Foundation stories and characters created by Isaac Asimov."


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