Robots and Empire

A funny thing happened on the way to the podcast.

When I went to the Apple Books store, Robots and Empire had disappeared.

I own it, but I can’t download it to my iPad because it’s not in the store. The Kindle edition seems to be missing too. I’m hoping that means Doubleday is preparing a new edition.

But what about in the meantime? Well, there are used bookstores and hard copies.

But if you want to read along with an e-book, what are your options?

There are multiple versions that can be checked out at

And this one: Robots and Empire appears to be downloadable.

Should it be there? I don’t know. But it’s an option until Doubleday has a new edition out.

On a similar note, there isn’t an official audiobook available. I don’t think there’s ever been one. But there was a version with limited distribution for the print-disabled.

At least, I think that’s where this version comes from. It floats around the interwebs and most copies have terrible audio quality. It’s like it was recorded from a thirty-year-old audio cassette and the other side of the tape is bleeding through. This is by far the better copy on YouTube.

And here is the second part.

This should hold us until there’s a new edition and an audiobook from Doubleday. I’m looking forward to getting those when they come out.

Best of luck! When you’re caught up with the reading or even if you haven’t, our discussion starts here:

Our second episode on Robots and Empire, on chapters 3, 4, 5, and 6 will be out tomorrow! Enjoy the read! And the episode!

Stars End S3E28

“I Do Not Ask You to Like the Podcast – I Ask You to Trust It”

If you’re a fan of Issac Asimov, you probably like robots, the Three Laws of Robotics, and characters having long, expository conversations about interesting ideas.

If that’s true, then Robots and Empire is the book for you!  It features, except for when the plot forces its way in, our two favorite robots, Daneel and Giskard, having long, expository conversations about the Three Laws of Robotics.  Jon is quite outspoken about how those are his favorite bits.  Dan and I are more apt to keep that revelation to ourselves.

Robots and Empire lives in between the three Elijah Baley novels and the Foundation books.  As a consequence, it never seems to get the attention of Asimov’s other major novels; it’s never, for example, been made into an official mass-market audiobook.

But if you love the three Elijah Baley novels and the Foundation books and if you’ve bought into Asimov’s project to link most of his work into a tremendous future history, Robots and Empire isn’t just essential, it might even be the most important piece.

And we’re finally talking about it, starting, in this episode, with the first two chapters, “The Descendent” and  “The Ancestor.” You don’t want to miss this one!

Stars End S3E27

“Everyone Believes in the Freedom of the Podcast – It Should Be Right There in the Constitution”

It’s human nature, it seems, to celebrate round numbers, 40th birthdays, 20th wedding anniversaries, 10th high school reunions, and so forth.  New Year’s Day 2000 was a huge deal even though, as Arthur C. Clarke was quick to point out, the third millennium CE didn’t start until 2001.

Early on, we poked a bit of fun at this tendency, culminating in episode eight, because eight is a very round number:  It’s “10” in base eight, “20” in base four, and “1000” in base two.  That was also when we tied Manimal for their number of episodes.

But now we’re celebrating our 50th episode and that is a milestone.  Fifty isn’t just 6.25 on the Manimal scale, it’s when a lot of comics and magazines (remember those?) have their first special issue! It’s a half-century, a semi-centennial, and a golden jubilee!  You might even say that we’re almost playing with a full deck!

So we celebrate, reminisce a bit, and wax some nostalgia.  And we take care of some business since there’s a trailer out for season 2 of Foundation.  

But the main event here is the most shocking of plot twists!  The most special of special guests!  It’s the one guest that no one, I say, no one, could have expected!  And not just because he’s 103 years old and refuses to leave his apartment!  It’s our interview with the professor of biochemistry, the great explainer, and the father of robotics.  He’s the founder of foundations, he’s one-third of the big three, he’s the best science writer according to the Clarke-Asimov Treaty, and he’s The Sensuous Dirty Old Man.

It is, of course, the Great and Glorious Az, Issac Asimov himself! And he joins us for a conversation! Believe it or don’t believe it, but DO NOT miss it!

Season 2 Sneak Peek

After a long drought of official information, we finally have an approximate release date and a trailer (well… they call it a “sneak peek”) for Foundation Season 2. It looks spectacular! We’ll discuss it as part of our special Episode 50 coming soon.

So, new episodes of Foundation, Summer 2023. You can watch the trailer below, then join us for episode 50!

Apple TV+’s Season 2 Sneak Peek

Stars End S2E12

“We Don’t Expect to Podcast Forever but We Do Intend to Hang On As Long As Possible!”

It’s the final episode of Season 2 where we wrap up our discussion of Season 1 of Foundation with the First Annual Stars End Hari Awards!  Frankly, a lot of it is the three of us gushing about how good the episodes and the performances were. 

But more importantly, you get to find out who won! Best Performance! Favorite Episode!  Favorite Podcast Guest!  All the important stuff.  Not included: unimportant things like “Least Inspirational Quote,” which must be “All love is programming.”

We couldn’t have done it without you!  Our thanks go out to everyone who supported us by voting, commenting, and listening! So, please join us!

Plus a preview of season three!  What will we be doing in the long dark interregnum before season 2 of Foundation?

Stars End S2E11

“We Send Podcasts Out Into Space Hoping Someone Will Answer!”

Although we’re going to continue to refer back to Foundation Season 1 a lot this year, this is the penultimate episode of our official discussion!

And we’re got quite a lot to say!  This is our first conversation about the season in its entirety!  We’re joined by special guest Luigi DiMeglio of the Foundation Era YouTube Channel!

And be on the lookout for questions and polls!  In our next episode, we’ll be hosting StarsEnd’s First Annual Hari Awards!  And WE want to hear from YOU on all the big awards!  Plus there will be some surprises!  Stay Tuned to our Twitter account @StarsEndPodcast and here at our website for news, official announcements, and our usual load of whimsy.

But first: S2E11! Let’s go!

Stars End S2E10

“Under the Genetic Dynasty, There is Only Room for One Podcast”

Haven’t watched Episode 10, “The Leap” yet? We’ll be here when you’re done.

Astoundingly, here we are at the end of Foundation’s Season 1. We’re all about to experience the teevee equivalent of empty nest syndrome.

But not yet! There are two more episodes of Stars End for this season! There’s this one, where we talk about Episode 10 and then there will be one more in about two weeks where we give an overview of Foundation’s epic first season! Also a special guest! Also, also some surprises!

And we’re here for the duration! It might feel like it will be 30,000 years until there will be new content on Apple TV+ but we’ll be here through this new interregnum to make sure that it feels like far less than 1000 years!

You’ve come with us this far! Let’s keep moving forward together!

Stars End S2E09

Stars End S2E09 – Sometimes Podcasts Shout Louder Than Logic.

You know. Spoilers and all that.

In 1987 the Smiths released an excellent compilation album entitled “Louder than Bombs.” It’s the apotheosis of mope rock! In 2021 “Is it Really So Strange” that we would release a podcast episode called “Louder than Logic?” Even if none of us is named “Smith?” We’re nothing but a bunch of alliterates!

But here’s the thing: it fits.

Gaal can feel the future in a way that might undermine psychohistory! That’s Louder than Mathematics!

Lewis was able to wish the Invictus back to Terminus! That’s Louder than Science!

And Salvor always knows how that coin will land! That’s Louder than Random!

Have you ever tried to replace a colorblind, left-handed clone with a perfect replica of Cleon I? That’s Louder than Reason!

You should join us as we talk about this barnburner of an episode directed by the great Roxann Dawson!

I mean it! “Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want!” Join us!

Stars End S2E08

Stars End S2E08 – “Your Lack of Understanding Does Not Obligate Us to Podcast”

If you’re a Lee Pace fan, or “stan” as the kids say, or even an “aficionado” like they said back in my day, “The Missing Piece” may be for you!  It’s like the last temptation of Brother Day meets Dune with 100% fewer sandworms.  That is to say, it’s a lot of loincloths and wandering around in the desert. Damn sand gets in everything!

Plus Hari’s still incorporeal, Gaal indulges in some casual vandalism, Salvor and Phara go on a trip, and Ethel the Aardvark goes quantity surveying.

As usual, we talk about it.

This week we’re joined by Rich Greenberg, a screenwriter and old friend of Jon’s.  Rich is known for Zoe (2018), starring Ewan McGregor, Léa Seydoux, and Rashida Jones, as well as the Emmy Award-Winning The Beauty Inside (2018).  Rich will tell us about the process of adapting an intellectual property, particularly a science fiction IP for television.

Join us!  

Stars End S2E07

Stars End S2E07 – An Exhortation from one of the Galaxy’s Major Podcasts

It’s Halloween evening as I write this and the two biggest Sci-Fi franchises have new episodes out.  The premiere of Star Trek Prodigy was last Thursday and the season opener for Doctor Who was this evening.  

But I have another venerable old franchise on my mind.

Namely Twilight Zone.  “Hey, kids!  You want to see something really scary?!?”

Well, “scary” probably isn’t the right word for “Mysteries and Martyrs” but I think some of us found it a little unsettling.

Still, there are lots of big questions!  Is Psychohistory as we know it a thing of the past?  What is the Anacreoneans horrific plan for the Invictus? Has the show succumbed to the Great and Glorious Az’s predilection for exposition?  And in the show with the most per-capita executions might someone get put to death for erroneous thumb-clasping?

We don’t know!  But we’re going to talk about it anyway!  With extra special guest star Cathy Blumenfeld, who has the distinction of escaping that Asimovian indoctrination so many of us suffered as teens.

Join us!  You’ll love it!  It will be like losing yourself in the scar and seeing real clouds!