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More Fun From Ran

Another fun quote from Ran Prieur:
In Isaac Asimov's classic Foundation trilogy, the bean-counting dystopian heroes calculate that the galaxy is about to fall into a "dark age" -- that is, an age when, in the absence of controlling powers, people can live the way they want and everything's more fun and interesting. So the heroes set up a secret foundation to more quickly steer the galaxy back into the stifling grasp of the pale, calculator-punching hands of their technocrat ilk. But then history deviates from their computer model -- there's an anomaly, an exceptional person they call the Mule, who threatens to ruin their plans. So they go find him and kill him.

I fantasize about starting a reverse foundation, to preserve chaos through the coming sterile "golden age," and shorten the time before the next "dark age" when we can live our own happy lives in straw huts instead of being slaves in the building of stone monuments for the ages. But then I figure, I don't have to: the whole wide Universe is that foundation, a bottomless ocean of "chaos" -- that is, complexity -- eternally, patiently, wearing and cracking the stone blocks that enclose every smaller world.

-Ran Prieur

link: http://ranprieur.com/zines/bestof.html


( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 28th, 2007 10:00 pm (UTC)
That's a really great subversion of the Foundation series.
Feb. 28th, 2007 10:37 pm (UTC)
Ol Issac
Ol' Issac had many a functioning brain cell at his disposal, but he also carried around (and wrote from the perspective of) a lot of unexamined and very straight-laced assumptions about government, human nature, and human freedom.

I have not read the later additions to the series by the likes of Greg Bear and David Brin. I'm currious as to how they managed to write stories that fit the continuity of the original series but can be taken seriously according the standards of contemporary SF.
Mar. 1st, 2007 12:31 am (UTC)
Re: Ol Issac
To be fair, contemporary sci-fi has very low standards. Not to insult Messrs. Bear and Brin, but it's not very hard to be a respected sci-fi author.

And yeah, I think Asimov's assumptions about human nature and society get a pass because they're basically standard (little-l) liberal assumptions, and much of his audience is working within the same political framework.

This crops up in weird ways when you start to look at his laws of robotics. The laws are more interested in banning harmful actions than stopping injustice, for example. At first glance, it might seem that this is because "harm" is easier to define than "justice", but "harm" is an incredibly abstract notion even in the earliest robot stories, and it becomes even moreso in the latter works (stuff like the 0th law).

So, why "harm" instead of "justice" (or "flourishing" etc.)? I suspect it has something to do with liberalism and utilitarianism, though I haven't analysed the situation too deeply.
Feb. 28th, 2007 10:07 pm (UTC)
Reading through his site, I could take this fellow a lot more seriously if he did not fall victim to the pettiness of seeing Republicans (and their traditional constituencies) as devils and Democrats (and their traditional constituencies) as angels.
Mar. 1st, 2007 01:04 am (UTC)
Having read some of the Foundation series, I found this quote very amusing to read. :)
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )

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