Thoughts on Foundation. Plus Book Reviews, Promotions and more.
The Lampworks Lamplighter SF & Fantasy News & Reviews
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Thoughts on Foundation
I’ve now watched the first three episodes of Isaac Asimov’s Foundation on Apple TV. I’m starting from a place of having read the original trilogy multiple times over the years but not in the last ten years. I did recently read Benford’s Foundation’s Fear, which was probably not a help. Suffice it to say that I’m glad Benford’s Hari Seldon didn’t influence his portrayal in the series.
First, I am impressed with the number of characters the writers transferred from the novels. Hari, Demerezel, Cleon, Gaal Dornick, and Salvor Hardin one all there, though some are gender-swapped from Asimov’s. I think that’s a good thing since strictly following the novels would have meant an almost all-male cast, standard for the 1950s and ’60s, but out of place today.
The writers have given the characters more depth than the novels, as well. The Emperor is not just a dynasty but a line of clones at the original Cleon I, reaching back four hundred years. That brings home the stagnation and calcification of the empire, making more real Han’s calculations that its fall is inevitable.
One might think that the mathematics that were so important to the original would have been difficult to bring to the screen. Still, they talk of theorems and proofs and convey the complexity and beauty of the equations in glowing visuals that hang in the air, suggesting Field Theory without ever using the term. Gaal Dornick chants prime numbers in her head to calm herself as she swims laps in a pool in interstellar space.
The pacing is thoughtful. Some would say that it’s too slow; some would say that pace befits the grand scale of the tale. Enough action scenes and tense dialog intersperse the stately scenes in the Emperor’s palace to keep it moving. I’ll need to see a few more episodes to say where I come down on the pacing.
It’s not going to be exactly the story that Asimov wrote. That much seems clear already. But it is looking like it will be good science fiction and close enough that it can call itself Foundation.
Sellenria: The Starship and the Citadel
Chuck Boeheim, Daniel Elswit
It came as a shock to archaeologist Stenn Gremm to find that his ancestor had been a warlock.
As a scientist, Stenn didn’t believe in magic. But when a monster from legend ground his equipment into dust, Stenn was forced into roles for which he hadn’t prepared. Apprentice to an assassin for one, advisor to the heir to the throne for another. When archaeological digs were conducted via telepresence, he didn’t expect to get dirt under his nails and blood on his hands. Now his fate hinges on his ability to embrace his greatest role: the new warlock.
Readers have called this a cross between Star Trek and Lord of the Rings, as well as a tale of self-discovery, set in a journey through a fantastic land. All legends have a kernel of truth, but the full story can be surprisingly different.
What We‘re Reading
Visit our archive of reviews and recommendations on the Books We Like page of our website. You‘ll find over one hundred recommendations in Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Non Fiction.
Walter Jon Williams
Quillifer is a silver-tongued law student who has a penchant for talking himself out of, or more often into, all sorts of scrapes and predicaments. At first he is concerned with little more than getting into and then out of the chambers of the latest girl to strike his fancy. Then his town is sacked and he must accept a new life, even becoming a soldier and a sailor. Even here, he employs his charm more than his sword, though he does find that you disappoint a goddess who you have charmed at your own peril.
City of Blades
Robert Jackson Bennett
In the sequel to City of Stairs, General Mulahgesh is sent to the country of Voortystan to determine if their dead god is really as dead as legend says. And if so, just who is raising an army of the dead in her place? Not as lyrical in language as the first book, perhaps appropriately, being about a much more practical main character. The tale says a lot about what being a soldier in a time of war really means.
Obsidian and Blood
Aliette de Bodard
A trilogy set at height of the Aztek empire, telling the tale of Acatl, High Priest for the Dead. As High Priest, Acatl must protect the boundary between his world and the worlds of the Gods, Gods who can manifest to their chosen priests when offered sufficient quantities of blood. But when you summon a God, they may have their own designs on you and your world. Acatl often seems to be more of a detective than a priest, piecing together the plots of the different Gods and their factions for dominating the world.
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One King, One Rule
War on Nibiru has caused environmental damage resulting in climate disaster. The cities on the surface have moved underground, and a search for the means to restore the climate is beginning. Two brothers have entirely different ideas of how to rule the planet and save the people. Only one of them can be right. Anu wants to use the planet’s resources to further develop the infrastructure of the underground cities, whereas Alalu wants to search for the legendary planet, Tiamat. The legends tell of it having deep veins of gold. If he can find it, the gold can be used to create an atmospheric shield, and life can return to the surface.
Buy via StoryOrigin
The war was over. The residents of Mechhaven thought they were done fighting. Fate had other plans.
Mechhaven, a desolate planetoid far from the center of galactic civilization, was home to sentient mechs decommissioned after the brutal Mechanai War. When a highly advanced mech crashes on their peaceful sanctuary and requests asylum, it sets events into motion that will be felt throughout the galaxy.
Major Misty Durham, human Administrator of Mechhaven, hoped to forget about the war and maybe build a lasting legacy by helping mechs build new lives. But rogue elements from the Imperium were not content to let the war die and peace reign. They hunt the advanced mech and the information locked within its memory matrix.
The disarmed mechs and their human caretakers must choose whether to take up arms once again to fight off the invaders and the nightmarish technology unleashed against them or face ultimate destruction.
Buy via StoryOrigin
Flight of the Gazebo
Drome isn’t paranoid. The entire world actually is out to get him.
And that world isn’t even Earth. It’s a weird hollow world that his entire village ends up inside through a thaumaturgic accident.
And to make matters worse, as soon as they arrive he’s taken hostage.
If the creatures who abducted him, and took him to the Imperial Palace, don’t kill him first, there’s a queue of hostiles, sharpening their knives, right behind them.
Luckily Drome escapes with the help of a living skeleton, but that relationship is more than a little strained by Drome’s unerring ability to annoy everyone he meets.
Getting back to his village won’t be easy, seeing as he’s not even sure where it is. But he needs to return quickly and warn them of the homicidal imperial troops on their way to wipe out every person in it.
That’s if someone doesn’t kill him first.
Free via StoryOrigin
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