“We Must Keep the Podcast Stable If For No Other Reason Than That We’re Here”
Well, here we are again with another installment on Asimov’s swansong, Forward the Foundation.
You might recall that Forward was written as a series of Novellas the first three of which appeared in Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine. The installment we’re discussing this time is “Cleon I” which originally appeared in the magazine’s 15th-anniversary issue in April 1992 as “Cleon the Emperor.” Much like the previous story, it isn’t very much about the titular character but it’s a lot about Hari Seldon. This one is set during his tenure as Cleon’s First Minister.
But the cover, by Gary Friedman, is pretty great; it’s Asimov himself alongside a woman who is almost certainly Dors Venabali. I can’t say it’s Dors for sure, but I can state with absolute certainty that character is neither from Mycogen nor Dahl.
Inside the issue, there’s an extensive editorial about the Foundation series and its history and it answers, in part, one of the questions we posed on the podcast. We’d wondered why Asimov decided to write Forward as a series of novellas and evidently, the genesis of the idea came from Jennifer Brehl, who Asimov calls “my brilliant and lovely editor.” He continues.
Jennifer thought it might be a good idea if I wrote a Foundation book in which the characters were new from one section to another.
I thought the matter through and decided that I would write a Foundation book (called Forward the Foundation) in which Hari Seldon gradually grew older. I would tell it in five installments and in each installment, Hari was ten years older.
It turns bittersweet as we get some bits of the story we’ve heard before.
I began work on it but then toward the end of 1989 disaster struck. I came down with congestive heart failure produced by mitral valve insufficiency. I was very sick and I was hospitalized for months. Actually, I was convinced I was going to die — but I didn’t.
And a bit later…
But there’s a catch (there’s always a catch). I’m tired. I’m just plain tired. I sleep a great deal and I drag around even when I’m not asleep…
And the worst trouble is that I can’t write very much. This is especially true of the new Foundation book. I wrote the first installment (in fact, it was published last November in this magazine) and the second and third parts are finished as well. The fourth part is almost finished but it’s been weeks and weeks since I’ve been able to work on it. Nor do I know when I’ll be able to get to it. Every time I try, I find I am too tired to work at it.
Whether I will improve with time, I can’t say. Certainly, there seems no sign of it at the moment.
Believe me, I am sorry about this; more so than you can possibly be.
Coincidently, although the issue would have been printed weeks before, April 1992 is the very month that Asimov journeyed beyond this mortal coil.
You can read the entire editorial here.
And, if you want to learn more about those costume design awards that we mentioned, there’s some more information here.
But in the meantime, join us for our latest episode as we continue through the life story of Hari Seldon!