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Scowling Dragon
2012-07-09, 04:50 PM
I started reading the Foundation series and I find it very interesting.

But I accidentally spoiled it for myself a couple of years ago and I am heavily bothered by one of the elements in it (That I havent read yet, But Im scared that once I do reach that point in the series I will be as annoyed as i think I am).

AKA The Second foundation. It just sounds off to me. Reading all these exploits and all the hard work of the first foundation, and I just don't want to feel disappointed if it turns out that the real privilege belongs to the second foundation (And Psychics just always feel off to me. Like saying the Technology is not the way yet Psychics are).

So tell me, Is the spoiler I read before I started reading the series correct? Or can I safely continue reading without worried about being disappointed.

Parra
2012-07-09, 05:50 PM
Its hard to say without spoiling what comes in future books. Suffice to say that there is a conflict between the physical 1st and the mental 2nd Foundations thought most of the books, but its never a clear cut "X Foundation's way is superior".

I really did enjoy reading all the books and seeing how things from the distant past affected or was warped by the passage of time, but I must say I felt really let down by the ending of the final book:
the whole Gaia/Galaxia thing just rubbed me the wrong way and the final book just seemed to flounder about and not really resolving anything that hadnt already been resolved.
Though it was nice to see what had happened to R. Daniel Olivar and the various Spacer Colonies after all that time

Joran
2012-07-09, 05:59 PM
The Second Foundation makes a good amount of sense once you get to it, if you can get past the idea of psychic powers. The Second Foundation is not in Dominion over the First, if that's what you're worried about.

The big problem with the series is that the first trilogy ends and Isaac Asimov clearly has no idea where to go from there. The second series of books are written three decades later and are clearly different than the first set, sadly.

I like the prequel novels, but the sequel novels strain my suspension of disbelief.

Scowling Dragon
2012-07-09, 06:21 PM
Ok. Thats good. But Im not planning on reading the sequel trilogy. The idea that the correct path for humanity is being absorbed into some sort of hive mind disgusts me in MANY ways.

Soras Teva Gee
2012-07-09, 06:29 PM
I always found my beef with the Foundation was that it went off the rails way too soon. The first book (despite being a collection) remains probably the best since it actually sticks to the core concepts. Yet despite those concepts not really getting tiring they go off the rails as soon as the Mule shows up.

Its still okay but its always that first collection I think really hit the nail on the head.

Joran
2012-07-09, 06:35 PM
Ok. Thats good. But Im not planning on reading the sequel trilogy. The idea that the correct path for humanity is being absorbed into some sort of hive mind disgusts me in MANY ways.

Then you really, really do not want to read Arthur C. Clarke's Childhood's End ;)



I always found my beef with the Foundation was that it went off the rails way too soon. The first book (despite being a collection) remains probably the best since it actually sticks to the core concepts. Yet despite those concepts not really getting tiring they go off the rails as soon as the Mule shows up.

Its still okay but its always that first collection I think really hit the nail on the head.


Agreed. I found psychohistory to be one of those grand concepts that made me think "Wow. That's a really neat and interesting idea." Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics were the same way. I'm willing to dig through his dry writing to get to those nice and meaty ideas.

P.S. I wouldn't be surprised if with enough data on an individual, that we can reliability predict their habits. Psychohistory writ small.

Scowling Dragon
2012-07-09, 07:34 PM
The problem with the individual is that you must have enough data on ALL the individuals surrounding that individual and also account for random chances occurring.

edit:

Also the Wiki article for Childhoods end makes me vomit. Its so disgusting.

Joran
2012-07-09, 08:12 PM
The problem with the individual is that you must have enough data on ALL the individuals surrounding that individual and also account for random chances occurring.

edit:

Also the Wiki article for Childhoods end makes me vomit. Its so disgusting.

With today's datamining, companies can target specific advertisements at someone or recommend different forms of media. For instance, Target could tell just by what someone had bought, if that person was pregnant, and include baby products within the advertisements sent to her.

As the algorithms get more sophisticated and the more data we expose (like with Facebook and other social media), it's not a far flung proposition that datamining can predict with relatively accuracy how someone would react to a given scenario or try to influence their decision making with targeted messages.

Expanding further out to predicting an entire chain of future events, probably not... which is the definition of psychohistory /facepalm

P.S. In my college class where we read that book, not one person liked the end state. My professor thought that was pretty interesting; we Americans like our independence it seems. Same reaction that the Federation had to the Borg.

Scowling Dragon
2012-07-09, 08:25 PM
As the algorithms get more sophisticated and the more data we expose (like with Facebook and other social media), it's not a far flung proposition that datamining can predict with relatively accuracy how someone would react to a given scenario or try to influence their decision making with targeted messages.

I get to a predetermined situation, but I doubt we could predict a whole persons life and such.


Same reaction that the Federation had to the Borg.
Pretty much. Maybe on some far away planet, a hive mind is writing science fiction about evolving to a race of individualists each with the capability of creating something greater then the single mind?

TheEmerged
2012-07-09, 09:51 PM
Pretty much. Maybe on some far away planet, a hive mind is writing science fiction about evolving to a race of individualists each with the capability of creating something greater then the single mind?

Insert joke about how you generally want what you don't have :smallyuk:

Cikomyr
2012-07-09, 10:05 PM
The big beef I might have had regarding the 2nd foundation

Is that as soon as they were revealed and explained to us, Hari Seldon's miraculous prediction lost its magic.

It wasn't the story about a calculated shot at civilization made by a visionary who set up sociological forces on unstoppable path, but simply a cabal of people who decided what was right for the galaxy and manipulated everything behind the scene so things go as they planned.

Taking the 2nd Foundation into perspective, there just ain't anything special about Korrel's surrender, or Anachreon's zealotry for the Galactic Spirit, or anything else that the Mayors or the Merchant Princes achieved. The minds of everybody was tinkered at the right time to allow for the Foundation to win.

Soras Teva Gee
2012-07-09, 10:23 PM
Agreed. I found psychohistory to be one of those grand concepts that made me think "Wow. That's a really neat and interesting idea." Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics were the same way. I'm willing to dig through his dry writing to get to those nice and meaty ideas.

P.S. I wouldn't be surprised if with enough data on an individual, that we can reliability predict their habits. Psychohistory writ small.

Individuals, well depends on what values of "reliability" one considers sufficient. I understand psychologists and the like are happy with the sort of percentages that would be unacceptable in harder sciences. Humanity is the creature of the exception.

However the core assumptions of psychohistory have at least a fair chance of being true since it posits that on the macro scale individual choices balance out and predictability emerges. We just don't have the skill or the dataset to prove them so.

Yet this fascinating idea is all but abandoned, even before being actually rejected.

Douglas
2012-07-10, 12:17 AM
The big beef I might have had regarding the 2nd foundation

Is that as soon as they were revealed and explained to us, Hari Seldon's miraculous prediction lost its magic.

It wasn't the story about a calculated shot at civilization made by a visionary who set up sociological forces on unstoppable path, but simply a cabal of people who decided what was right for the galaxy and manipulated everything behind the scene so things go as they planned.

Taking the 2nd Foundation into perspective, there just ain't anything special about Korrel's surrender, or Anachreon's zealotry for the Galactic Spirit, or anything else that the Mayors or the Merchant Princes achieved. The minds of everybody was tinkered at the right time to allow for the Foundation to win.
You seem to be overemphasizing the Second Foundation's role. They were not the reason Seldon's plan worked at all, they were the reason it had such a high degree of reliability. They were the safety net, not the primary plan. Without the 2nd Foundation, Seldon's plan still could and likely would have worked, but it was a matter of probabilities and only had a chance of working. A reasonably high chance, certainly, but still one that could fail with too much bad luck. The 2nd Foundation existed to make it as much of a certainty as possible, and I don't think they even did any significant interventions at all before the Mule came along and made it necessary.

dps
2012-07-10, 05:43 PM
With today's datamining, companies can target specific advertisements at someone or recommend different forms of media. For instance, Target could tell just by what someone had bought, if that person was pregnant, and include baby products within the advertisements sent to her.


So far, though, judging by the stuff I get, they don't do a very good job.

Joran
2012-07-11, 02:11 AM
So far, though, judging by the stuff I get, they don't do a very good job.

From How Companies Learn Your Secrets (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/19/magazine/shopping-habits.html?pagewanted=7&_r=2&hp)

They figured out it was remarkably creepy to be told "Congrats on your pregnancy" without you telling them, so they put the coupons in amongst other stuff.

Or perhaps you (or someone you know) don't shop at Target enough for them to have enough data.

Excerpt:

About a year after Pole created his pregnancy-prediction model, a man walked into a Target outside Minneapolis and demanded to see the manager. He was clutching coupons that had been sent to his daughter, and he was angry, according to an employee who participated in the conversation.

“My daughter got this in the mail!” he said. “She’s still in high school, and you’re sending her coupons for baby clothes and cribs? Are you trying to encourage her to get pregnant?”

The manager didn’t have any idea what the man was talking about. He looked at the mailer. Sure enough, it was addressed to the man’s daughter and contained advertisements for maternity clothing, nursery furniture and pictures of smiling infants. The manager apologized and then called a few days later to apologize again.

On the phone, though, the father was somewhat abashed. “I had a talk with my daughter,” he said. “It turns out there’s been some activities in my house I haven’t been completely aware of. She’s due in August. I owe you an apology.”

...

“With the pregnancy products, though, we learned that some women react badly,” the executive said. “Then we started mixing in all these ads for things we knew pregnant women would never buy, so the baby ads looked random. We’d put an ad for a lawn mower next to diapers. We’d put a coupon for wineglasses next to infant clothes. That way, it looked like all the products were chosen by chance.

“And we found out that as long as a pregnant woman thinks she hasn’t been spied on, she’ll use the coupons. She just assumes that everyone else on her block got the same mailer for diapers and cribs. As long as we don’t spook her, it works.”

grimbold
2012-07-11, 07:27 AM
Ok. Thats good. But Im not planning on reading the sequel trilogy. The idea that the correct path for humanity is being absorbed into some sort of hive mind disgusts me in MANY ways.

theres a sequel trilogy?!

*nergasm*

hamlet
2012-07-11, 07:45 AM
theres a sequel trilogy?!

*nergasm*

There is, though it covers different themes.

Actually, I find that a lot of people miss one of the major premises of the series when they get all cranky of the 2nd Foundation. The point of both is that neither is superior/inferior to the other, but that both are neccessary for "The Plan" to actually work. You need a public face for such things, and you need a shadowy, semi-secret behind the scenes group that can move things unseen and uninterfered with. It's a matter of having a face for people to look at while the others are setting things up quietly. You need both.

However, with the sequel trilogy, the big reveal is that:

The Plan has long ago been coopted by R. Daneel Olivaw, the Robot and, likely, one of the oldest living things in the galaxy. It's my understanding that, way back in the beginning, he took up Seldon's idea and applied it on a scale and scope that even Seldon could not conceive of.

Parra
2012-07-11, 08:31 AM
The Plan has long ago been coopted by R. Daneel Olivaw, the Robot and, likely, one of the oldest living things in the galaxy. It's my understanding that, way back in the beginning, he took up Seldon's idea and applied it on a scale and scope that even Seldon could not conceive of.

I thought he (Daneel) reveals at the end of the final book that he was unsatisfied with the Seldon Plan because, although it was the best thing to happen to mankind so far, that it ultimately still caused a lot of suffering and hence not perfect. Thus leading him to devising Gaia as a test run for Galaxia and the whole Hivemind Schtick. As well as (cant recall his name right now) being co-opted due to his magical ability to always know the right course to take to make sure Galaxia was the way to go

hamlet
2012-07-11, 08:42 AM
I thought he (Daneel) reveals at the end of the final book that he was unsatisfied with the Seldon Plan because, although it was the best thing to happen to mankind so far, that it ultimately still caused a lot of suffering and hence not perfect. Thus leading him to devising Gaia as a test run for Galaxia and the whole Hivemind Schtick. As well as (cant recall his name right now) being co-opted due to his magical ability to always know the right course to take to make sure Galaxia was the way to go

Been a very long time since I've read the books (over 15 years mind you), but yes, your description is accurate. However, the implication in the text that I got way back then was that Daneel had more control over the Seldon plan than others, or that he himself admitted to those in that conversation with him. He had engineered it in such a way that his Gaia and Galaxia plans would be discovered at the appropriate time to be accepted.

pendell
2012-07-11, 08:53 AM
To the OP,

I *strongly* recommend that you read Foundation's Edge if none of the others. It ties up the first trilogy quite neatly, and it's as far as you need to read if you don't care about the second trilogy.

Thing about the Foundation is that it is not a unitary work like Lord of the Rings. I believe the original trilogy was actually originally a collection of short stories written from 1950 to 1965, when they were all collected together into the aforementioned books. As a result, there's a fair amount of drift and retconning.


For example, when the original 'Foundation' was written, I think it was the only one. At that stage of writing, the 'Second Foundation' didn't exist in Asimov's thought. It was only after the events of Foundation and Empire and the thorough wrecking of the plan that Asimov found it necessary to insert a psychic agent -- a band of illuminati, as it were -- to get history back on track. And so the second foundation was written into the story and retconned into always being there.

In essence, Asimov started the story as a thought experiment in which bare prediction and irrevocable forces were pitted against human will and ingenuity. Death vs. Life. The universe vs. Spiral POWAA!

Asimov intended for the universe to win. But in the end he couldn't write that story. Spiral POWAA! won in the place of the Mule. Once this was done a force of even greater Spiral POWAA was needed to get things back on track, because simple predictability and the inevitability of history simply weren't enough, at least not in the mind of Asimov.

So it's best not to think of the Foundation Trilogy as a unitary work but rather as a fifteen year thought experiment -- one which concluded with results utterly different from what the author had intended when he started the work.


Respectfully,

Brian P.

Scowling Dragon
2012-07-11, 11:04 AM
Thanks Brian P.

Il check it out.