In my opinion Asimov becomes a better writer as the Foundation series progresses. What he loses in swashbuckling derring-do he starts to make up for in better characterization and plotting. It's like I can see his evolution as a writer as I read.
That said, I must agree that Foundation didn't meet my preconception of what it would be about. I was told it was "hard SF" and when I started reading it, it didn't strike me that way at all. Yes, there is the concept of an advanced psycho-history/sociology, but the way it plays out (at least in the first three books Asimov wrote) is not at all what I would have expected.
I finally finished Norwich's Shakespeare's Kings. Now I can treat myself to watching the plays on TV and laughing at the anachronisms and chronological liberties! I'm thinking of expanding the series with Chris Marlowe's "Edward II" and Shakespeare's other plays; "King John" and "Henry VII", which Norwich doesn't really discuss at all. But first I need to find movies of them, and I doubt Netflix has them.
I think it had to do with our loot-per-level being too low.
Spoiler:Either that or it was a random encounter. [shrugs]
It was a young dragon and, although it was a challenge to beat, we did get a small hoard out of it and discovered what happened to some members of another Knot who went missing (they became dragon chow)
I usually try to avoid reading these threads since I'm playing in this campaign, but I just wanted to say that my party has just started "Call Forth Darkness" and we had a great time this past weekend.
We are on the trail (if that's the right word) to the Horn of Abaddon and
we just slew a green dragon!
It's been great fun so far and I am looking forward to more Fire Mountain Games adventures.
In other news, I'm onto Henry VI, Part II in Norwich's Shakespeare's Kings.
They've killed Joan of Arc, and then lost their lands in France (except for Calais).
Oh, also, Henry VI has gone insane and then recovered.
Now the Lancasters and Yorks are gearing up for the War of the Roses. Stuff is getting confusing but I'm sticking with it.
Aaron Bitman wrote:
Because of this thread, I got curious about P. G. Wodehouse, so I read 5 early "Jeeves and Wooster" stories, and then took "The Inimitable Jeeves" out of the library. I'm most of the way through it, and I'm not nearly as impressed as some other readers were. I will admit, though, that I laughed out loud at the pearl story, several times.
I really liked "The Code of the Woosters," but Wodehous's later stuff I find a bit of a rehash, wherein he relies less on madcap plotting and falls back on Wooster's verbal tics and gags that reference previous works.
Knode and Callahan review Fletcher Pratt's The Blue Star. They don't like it (well, Callahan doesn't like it; Knode likes the world-building but not the story it tells).
Introducing the next Appendix N read: Manly Wade Wellman!
I think one of the commentators on the Tor message-board is correct in saying that the reviewers have it backwards: they are judging the books by their latter imitators (such as the X-Files) and not appreciating them as progenitors.
Doodlebug Anklebiter wrote:
Spoiler for Dicey's sake, because you know I wouldn't want him to learn any history before he is ready for it.
I totes agree that Flastaff gets a raw deal from Hal in the play. In "real history" I'm not so concerned since Fastolf fought against my main girl, Joan of Arc.
I've got this other book that describes the 100 yrs. war in detail...not to be read while eating! Even Norwich, who has a Title and is pretty Anglophilic as a result, admits that Henry V makes Sherman's march to the sea look like a cakewalk. If it happened nowadays they'd send Hal to the Hague for war crimes.
Dicey! Join me in the adventure that is Shakespeare's Henriad!
I'm currently in Henry IV's reign. Richard II has been deposed and now the Percys are rebelling, and Prince Hal is a wastrel. Flastaff is da bomb. It's interesting to see the changes Shakespeare made to not offend the Oldcastles inadvertently offending the legacy of Sir. Fastolf.
I finally read Jack Williamson's "With Folded Hands." It was like a good episode of The Twilight Zone. There are some unfortunate connotations with the "Humanoid mechanicals" being "small and black" and objects of fear or maybe they were intentionally described that way to play off of suburban mid-century American xenophobia (the story was written in 1947).
It's a fun read, with that lovely dissonance that mid-century sci-fi evokes between expected mechanical advances and reliance on known technical means (e.g. CRTs & nuclear fission exist side-by-side). There might even be a message in there for our own times, about reliance on technology (even if the Jetsons' Rosie isn't trying to take over the world).
Shakespeare's Kings: The Great Plays and the History of England in the Middle Ages, 1337-1485, by John Julius Norwich.
I'm currently in the middle of King Richard II's reign. The "Merciless" Parliament has just executed his favorite courtiers. Shakespeare's play doesn't show up till the end of his reign, so it's a way to go before I see some comparisons between Shakespeare and the historical sources.
Kirth Gersen wrote:
I like some of Sprague de Camp, and Callahan's review detesting that particular one of his novels didn't phase me. But it annoys me too that Callahan's being PO'd at de Camp and Pratt spilled over into his review of Brown. The two had nothing to do with each other and it puts the Brown book in a somewhat false light. It's a bad comparison, like comparing Brown to Asimov or Heinlein would have been.
I DID like that Callahan referenced the episode of Star Trek where Kirk fights the Gorn. I own that one on DVD. :) Also, no way could I ever do basic training -- only 1 book?! Never! I'm a die-hard bibliophile, and you can take my books when you pry them from my dead, ink-stained fingers.
I finished Asimov's Second Foundation. I really liked the ending, and the characterization improved on both books 1 and 2. The naïve Foundationers have a plot reason for being naïve so I no longer find it entirely implausible or unpardonable.
I think I'll take a break from Asimov now. On the sci-fi front, I want to read Card's Ender's Game before the movie comes out.
I'm halfway through Asimov's Second Foundation. Even with the explanation that the First Foundation didn't develop any psychology, I find the First Foundationers in Part II unpardonably naïve. If it takes a 14-years-old girl to teach them how to do "spy stuff" then the Foundation is truly lost. I'm glad Asimov doesn't tell us who to root for, but I'm almost wishing that the Mule wasn't defeated in Part I, since at least he had some character.
I found myself a bit impatient with this episode. We knew going in that Unalaq's trial would be a kangaroo court;
Spoiler:I think Varrick is incredibly annoying, and I hope he isn't going to remain part of the regular cast; Asami deserves to shine as the non-bending gadget-wielder, and right now she's just sort of there, not doing much and with little to say. I did like the part with the airplane, it was spectacularly animated.
that Unalaq not only usurped his brother but set up the raiders to depose him was a bit surprising, but I'm also surprised the judge talked that much, even given that Naga was about to chomp his head. And I have mixed feelings about how Korra's dad has been reacting to all of this.
The fight between Korra and Unalaq was also well animated and choreographed.
I'm with Dragon78, we need the coming episodes to unravel the mystery of the angry spirits a bit more. If it all turns out that Unalaq was controlling the spirits from the start, I'll be annoyed because I want it to be deeper and more "spiritual" than a mere mortal's dynastic feud. The spirits are bound up with nature, so something of consequence in nature must be going on...the kraken spirit in episode 1 couldn't have been Unalaq's doing too, could it? And if it does turn out to be him all along, we need to know why he has a special connection to the spirits when everyone else except Korra doesn't.
JOHN BELLAIRS! JOHN BELLAIRS!
Can you tell I'm a fan?
I mostly (okay, only) knew him from his YA works, but "The Face in the Frost" started it all. I think he would have been a good Miskatonic/Cthulhu fan-fiction writer, because of all the great "weird" elements he puts in his books.
I have to agree with magnuskn, the fans are a bit too upset about Korra's attitude, which I also find to be if not justified in her expression, justified (at least partly) in sentiment.
Is Korra a bit arrogant? Yes, but she also knows that she has more bending ability than anyone else on the planet and that her greatest enemy (so far) was defeated. Does she lash out when she's emotionally vulnerable? Yes. But lots of people (especially teens) do that, and its partly normal teen frustration that she doesn't have the political skills or experience to meet the non-bending threats to her community.
Because of her flaws, I actually find I like Korra more this season than I did last season. Her uncle may be trying to manipulate her politically, but she's not quite as naive with him as she was with Tarrlok. She can't outmaneuver him, but she tries to negotiate with him, which shows she is learning.
Freehold DM wrote:
Speaking of mundane vs. spirits, I really really hope Avatar Kuruk makes an appearance with the other past avatars, as does Koh the Face Stealer, (I mean, come on, Book 2 is "Spirits"! He has to show his face in this one!) and they bring back Erik Todd Dellums to do Koh's voice!
If I'm not mistaken, the mockup cover is part of the cover of AP 19: Howl of the Carrion King.
I hope that the new content for the Campaign Setting book really expands on the older Companion book for Osirion, and isn't more of a cut-and-paste job with new stuff added on at the end. The inclusion of a bestiary gives me hope that more of the stuff will be new, and that the older stuff will be expanded on.
I finished Roger Zelazny's Lord of Light. In some ways it raised more questions than it answered, but I did enjoy the ending and all the awesome weapons/toys Zelazny gave his "superhero" characters to play with. Also,
big fight at end:
I would like to have seen more of the final battle with Nirriti the Black, but I understand how that could be hard to write...as it is, Lord Indra just comes out of nowhere in that fight.
I'm a twin, I thought the twins were ok, funny in their own way, and a pretty good foil for Bolin. I just hope they don't go with the "evil twins" trope like they did in A:TLA. But poor Bolin didn't know what he's gotten himself in for!
I like how Korra had to rely on herself to open the spirit gate, and the revelation of the background between her father and uncle...but the "secret princess" aspect of their background irked me. If her dad is the "rightful (banished) king of the North" that makes her a secret princess. Why? Who says they have to follow the right of primogeniture? Who says the Avatar can't be some working-class kid but has to be related to a chief? But it does bring up the intriguing possibility that Korra is related to Yue, who has the whole "spirit" thing down cold.
I also hope the B plot with Asami ends up tying into the A plot. They've already hinted at a C plot with Tenzin and his kids at the air temple, but I hope Asami gets more screen time.
So, I enjoyed the first ep of season 2, even if I had some minor nitpicks.
Shout out to Set re. the extended flashback in Zelazny's Lord of Light. It FINALLY arrived at the library after an interminable wait. I'm almost halfway in and I would have been totally confused if you hadn't mentioned the extended flashback, especially because...
Spoiler:So, thanks Set. I'm enjoying LoL so far, even if it took me awhile to figure out what was going on even with your warning.
Yama's attempted murder of Sam and assassination of Rild doesn't make sense if Yama just brought Sam back from the "dead."
Aaron Bitman wrote:
I completely agree that the essence of sci-fi is its ideas. They are more important than the characters. Yet, I also think that conflict in the genre over the role of character goes all the way back to Jules Verne (there was a nifty article on Capt. Nemo making its rounds on the internet recently that argues about this).What I'm trying to figure out is where I as a reader fall in what makes a satisfying balance of Ideas + Characters for me.
Also, it was a bit of jolt coming from Octavia Butler straight to Asimov, because their styles and answers to that question are so different (as are the ideas they raise).
I've read a little bit of Harrison (Make Room! Make Room! & Technicolor Time Machine, but not Stainless Steel Rat) and the thing that strikes me about him is his satiric tone, more than his ideas (not that he isn't original, just that the tone is what sticks with me more). And with satire, it's more okay to not have a consistent character, if it serves the humor, as much as it serves his ideas. The tradition probably goes back to Swift more than Verne.
Slightly disappointed in the ending to Asimov's "Foundation and Empire." He's made SOME improvement in characterization, but somehow the way he manipulates them is too plain to see. I'm not sure I have the words to describe it, but his characters have surface emotions but lack emotional depth. YMMV. I can't see any of them making me want to cry if he kills them off. But I will still read the next book in Hari Seldon's Plan, provided it DOES wrap up the "2nd Foundation" in one book...we shall see.
All in all, Asimov is not quite what I expected. I can't really see the Foundation novels as "hard sci-fi," more as space-opera with some big-ideas thrown in. I suppose I shouldn't have expected really hard sci-fi since the whole Foundation premise necessitates faster-than-light travel. Asimov does well with big ideas; I think that is his main strength based on my reading so far.