David Thompson
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March 31, 2021

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Alex

Never been into science fiction, so I haven't read Asimov's books of that genre, but one of my favorite books is his Guide to Science (1972 edition); I'd say that most of my knowledge of the history of science comes from there. So when I found that there was an updated edition (1984), I checked it out of the library, figuring that there'd be so much interesting detail added in the intervening twelve years. What a pity! Few if any updates on scientific discoveries, and instead shot through with lots of handwringing doomsaying "the-earth-is-in-peril-because-of" darn near everything: nukes, global warming (or cooling, I don't recall), acid rain, overpopulation, and heck if I remember what else.

pst314

(What I vaguely recall is being told that the still later Foundation novels involved some reassessing of the whole idea of a benevolent technocracy. But that is very vague from many years ago: I tried reading the 4th Foundation volume and gave up in boredom.)

pst314

What a pity! Few if any updates on scientific discoveries, and instead shot through with lots of handwringing doomsaying

That's a terrible shame, especially considering Asimov's well justified reputation as the great explainer.

John Lewis

Having first read and enjoyed the (original) Foundation trilogy when aged about 12 I decided on a nostalgic re-read last year on account of unexpected free time. For me at least they really haven’t aged well and the level of smugness was notable.

pst314

And I had my doubts about the viability of the robot thing.

I'll come right out and say that it's pretty much bullshit, but it served the purpose he intended, which was to write stories about robots that were *not* Frankenstein monster stories.

Addendum: Scientists and engineers tended to have very naive ideas back then about robotics and AI, greatly underestimating the difficulty and complexity of all sorts of things.

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