Foundation

In September 2021, Apple TV+ made the bold move to bring Issac Asimov’s groundbreaking saga to our living room screens. The first season was surprisingly enjoyable, the challenge of bringing such a monumental work to TV, which had its basis on Edward Gibbon’s History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, was no small feat. The pressure to write that script must have been through the roof.


I’ve had the opportunity to watch the first two seasons, the third has been renewed and hopefully they will complete all the seasons they have planned. The show loosely adapts the books, which might disappoint some diehard fans of the book series, but for me, I personally have enjoyed the adaptation and the changes have been welcomed. I never really enjoyed the Foundation books as much as I enjoyed the Dune books. Although there seems to have been some level of Asimov’s influence on Frank Herbert’s Dune Chronicles, they have differing opinions about the future of humanity. Asimov was insistent that there must be science in science fiction, which clashed with Herbert’s intentional removal of science from his science fiction epic works. This was the new wave of science fiction, and it eventually won out, seen also in other writer’s work such as Ursula K Le Guin’s Hainish Cycle.

But I’m not complaining, with the Dune films and Foundation series, we have what are probably some of the best space operas ever written brought to life in cinemas and home theaters. Both reaching new heights in cinematic spectacle.

The Foundation series follows a group of exiles who try to preserve the legacy of humanity as the Galactic Empire faces its inevitable collapse. Led by the mathematician Hari Seldon (played by Jared Harris), Seldom predicts that the Galactic Empire, which has ruled the galaxy for 12,000 years, will soon fall into a dark age that will last 30,000 years. Using his science of psychohistory, which can forecast the future based on statistical laws of mass action, Seldon devises a plan to reduce the duration of the dark age to 1,000 years by creating two Foundations, one at each end of the galaxy, that will preserve the knowledge and culture of humanity.

There’s no way a saga of this proportion will be lacking themes. And several interesting themes are explored, which are both relevant to science fiction and human history. The rise and fall of civilizations, with the depiction of the decline of the Galactic Empire, which is modeled after the Roman Empire, and the emergence of new powers and cultures in the galaxy. The role of religion and science. Exploring how science and religion can be used as tools of manipulation and propaganda, as well as sources of inspiration and hope. The nature of free will and determinism, questioning the extent to which human actions and events are predetermined by Seldon’s plan, and how much agency and choice the characters have in shaping their own destinies. It also examines the ethical and moral implications of Seldon’s plan, and whether it is justified to sacrifice individual lives and freedoms for the greater good of humanity. And there are more.

The promise of future seasons, as they happen, will span centuries and civilizations, and explore more themes of history, religion, science, and destiny. So far Foundation is proving to be a faithful and creative adaptation of the classic novels by Isaac Asimov, and a captivating and ambitious TV series that will appeal to both fans and newcomers of the genre. Though it can be a bit daunting for those unfamiliar with the books to begin with, I suggest you stick with it, and it will pay off as the story settles down, along with the characters and places. Rarely will you get the chance to watch something unfold like this on such a grand epic scale. Highly recommended.

The Windup Girl

Paolo Bacigalupi’s Windup Girl has a strange title. One that gives the impression you’ll be reading a clockpunk story with automatons. You won’t. Contrary, you’ll be reading a story focusing on global warming and biotechnology, which will draw you into an intriguing, dystopian world, set in 23rd century Thailand. The book’s gorgeous cover had me intrigued, it looked like I was about to read a travel blog from the future. A mix of dusty street markets, pin-pointy skyscrapers, and Thai Buddhist temples. And what was a giant elephant doing on the cover of a biopunk science fiction novel? No, this was a Hugo and Nebula award-winning novel, and the blurb from Time Magazine stating, ‘Bacigalupi is a worthy successor to William Gibson,’ wasn’t far from the truth. Though I personally preferred The Windup Girl to Neuromancer.

The world’s resources are depleted, and society is dominated by megacorporations, whose monopoly on biotechnology gives them sovereignty over the masses. OK, isn’t that already happening? Scary. Now, Thailand has managed to be the exception, managing to preserve reserves of genetically sustainable seeds, as well as securing its borders from manufactured plagues and threatening bioterrorism brought about by economic hitmen. In this setting, and with the absence of oil and petroleum, giant springs are manually wound by genetically altered elephants, amply named Megadonts, and are used to store energy in those very same spring-driven motors. Quite the surprising solution and it explains the massive elephant on the book’s cover.

So, it’s from one of these hitmen, Anderson Lake, that we are introduced to the ‘Windup Girl’, Emiko. An enigmatic and attractive creature. She is one of the New People, who are slaves, soldiers, and toys to the rich, but Windups are illegal in Thailand. Emiko is an engineered human, created and programmed as a kind of geisha servant. She was originally a sex companion to a Japanese delegate, who was on a diplomatic mission and was left abandoned by her owner. As were other Windups once affluent humans got bored of them.

There is a lot you can interpret in the story as warnings of what the future of the present world will end up suffering if humanity does not act to solve current environmental problems. Against the backdrop of this dystopian future, Bacigalupi unfolds events and advances the story by immersing the reader in the lives and struggles of the protagonists. Offering a sense of nostalgia, engaging the reader empathetically, such as Emiko’s longing for her former master’s embrace. Or discovering the deeper machinations of Anderson Lake’s mission, who pursues his goals with unbending thirst and assertiveness. The two meet when Anderson meets Emiko in a sex club where she offers information for help in finding her freedom.

The book holds up well years later. Though it’s frightening to see a lot of what is written in its pages is unfolding in the news and social media today. A lot of the environmental issues in the story happen behind a veil of political friction, just as they are happening now. Emotionally tense, The Windup Girl is a remarkably intelligent story, which I highly recommend.

‘Politics is ugly. Never doubt what small men will do for great power.’ – Paolo Bacigalupi

Ode to a Lost Explorer – Free eBook

Finally found some time to format the completed Ode eBook and have uploaded it here on my site for anyone who wants to read it.  You can download it for free and it’s available in both mobi and epub formats.


For more information about the story as well as links to the downloads, click here or on the eBook cover image.

Hope you enjoy it.

Ode to a Lost Explorer – The Singer in the Sea

Some more long overdue chapters are now done.

The Travellers’ journey has taken them to a strange and dangerous place that should not exist.  It is here they hope to find the last part of the missing puzzle to help them escape an uncertain reality.

Several chapters are already available and can be heard from these links below, and the list will grow:

iTunes

Podomatic

The Galactic Hub

Player FM


I’ve also uploaded audio chapters to My YouTube channel here.

Ode to a Lost Explorer – The Dancer in the Wind

I’ve written a couple of more chapters (20 & 21) to the story, if only to show time is not on my side.  Not that it ever was. The same might apply to the Traveller and his friends.  When they encounter a very old nemesis their dangerous path takes a surprising turn for the worse and they are found wanting.


But I did promise something special was coming.  With the help and wonderful enthusiasm of my friend Donnie Gallagher, Ode to a Lost Explorer can now be heard coming alive as an exciting new audio adaptation.  Several chapters are already available and can be heard from these links below, and the list will grow as the story unfolds:

iTunes

Podomatic

The Galactic Hub

Player FM


I’ll also be uploading more audio chapters to My YouTube channel here.

Finally, Donnie hosts his own podcast here at Craft Brews and Geek News.  So make sure to check it out.