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!
“The Creation of the Podcast Was Looked Upon as the Prime Example of the Overweening Arrogance of Humanity.”
Well, we’re between books this episode, so we decided to read “The Robot Chronicles” from the Great and Glorious Az’s Gold: The Final Science Fiction Collection. It’s an essay in which Asimov discusses his robot stories, their inspirations, and their milestones.
So far, I’ve found Gold enjoyable. It contains the last of Asimov’s science fiction short stories, essays about his stories, and essays about writing Science Fiction. He insists, by the way, that Science Fiction be abbreviated “SF” and not “sci-fi.” You can find out why and read “The Robot Chronicles” and the rest of Goldhere.
But, really, the bulk of this episode is an engaging and free-wheeling conversation with our special guest Travis Johnson, whom you may know from Twitter as @travisjohnson and/or @startravcommand. He’s one of the hosts of the Black Alert Podcast and created, with his 11-year-old daughter, a Star Trek Prodigy podcast called Star Trek Podigy. He has also published A Matter of Right: Futures of Justice, a “science fiction comics and prose anthology” about the US criminal justice system. Join us as we discuss Robots, Foundation, all things Asimov, and more! You don’t want to miss this one!
Update: sometimes I forget stuff, and I only remember when I listen to the episode after it’s published. This time it’s the Asimov bust that Travis told us he 3-D printed. It’s an impressive bit of work and here it is for your edification.
“Softly Beaming, A Steady Light of Hope… the Stars End Podcast.”
Are you troubled by premonitions of unsavory equations or non-standard beverages?
Do you experience feelings of dread from your grandfather’s office furniture?
Have you or anyone in your family experienced prestidigitation, clairvoyance, astral projection, or sphenopalatine ganglioneuralgia?
If the answer is yes, don’t wait another minute! The Second Foundation is for YOU!
Our courteous and efficient staff is on call 24 hours a day to serve all your psychohistorical prediction needs!
In this episode, we come to the end of Forward the Foundation with the story of Wanda Seldon where we finally see the inception of the Second Foundation as Hari discovers Wanda’s abilities and Wanda first becomes an important part of the Seldon Project before striking off with Stettin Palver to form the nucleus of the Second Foundation. Meanwhile, we hit the bittersweet part of any biography. Hari’s life winds down as he says goodbye to everyone he’s ever loved and is left only with psychohistory before we finally say goodbye to Hari himself.
And, in case you don’t recognize the reference above…
“No one outside the podcast has the faintest knowledge of how psychohistory works and not everyone inside does either.”
If you’re read our one piece of fan fiction, “Dors,” by our very own Jon Blumenfeld, you’ve read an origin story of sorts for Dors Venábili. If you like this character like so many others you should check it out; it’s excellent.
In this episode, we finally get to the chapter of Forward the Foundation featuring… well no, they all feature Hari but this one’s named after Dors. It was called “The Consort” when it ran in Asimov’s Science Fiction in April of 1993 and to be honest, Dors plays a larger role in this story than the so-called “featured” characters in the other eponymous chapters. If you hadn’t noticed the book has a bit of a pattern. In each section, Hari says farewell to his friends and loved ones as his life winds down in ten-year increments. In this story, Hari and we get to say goodbye to Dors, nicely bookending with Jon’s story.
Our guest this week is one of Joseph’s oldest friends, Rick Tetrault. Rick is the host of the Starbase 66 Podcast from the Infinite Potato Alliance and also qualifies as an “old friend” of Stars End. Rick gave us a great deal of sage advice when we were just figuring out how to do a podcast. You might recall that Starbase 66 was the site of our first collective guest appearance back in December. You’re more than invited to check that out here: Starbase 66: Foundationally Speaking.
But first, without further ado: Episode 11!
Featured Image: Interior artwork from Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, April 1993.
“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.
“I Suspect You Will Find That No Podcast Is Ever Truly Crucial”
Have you been with us for a while? If you have you might remember some jokes back in the long, long ago about the longevity of our podcast. We were pretty stoked (is that what the kids say nowadays?) back in Season 1 Episode 8 when we surpassed the Manimal Threshold for example.
Well, on 26 April 2021 our first episode was squirted out into the aether so we have another milestone to celebrate; we’ve officially been a podcast for over a year.
Thirty-two episodes in and we’re starting to talk about our fifth book, Forward the Foundation by the Great and Glorious Az.
It’s a departure in that it started life as a series of novellas like the original trilogy; three of those appeared in Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine starting in November 1991. The book and the stories within are somewhat bittersweet; we touch on that a bit in the podcast and we’ll get back to that here as soon as we’re able.
And we have a special guest in this episode, who you may know as @stratotron from that bluebird site! They are a perfect person to join us in a discussion of a chapter entitled “Eto Demerzel.” Join us and welcome the delightful Daneel Adrian Cayce to the conversation, Asimov Enthusiast, Trekkie, Twitterer, chiptune creator, and namesake of the quintessential character in the entire Asimov canon! It’s going to be good!
And thanks to everyone who’s stuck with us for an entire trip around the sun! Never fear, there’s no getting rid of us now!
“The Podcast Makes No Allowance For Unwitting Harm”
How time flies! It’s our final Episode on Prelude to Foundation and you’re not going to want to miss this one!
Our heroes finally, despite their best efforts, find themselves in the sector of Wye. That’s pronounced “why” and The Great and Glorious Az has a bit of fun with that. Also, “Who” is the Prime Minister, “What” is the neighboring sector, and “I Don’t Know” is on third. And while Raych gets to go to the Zoo, Rachelle eventually finds herself in the penalty box. I’m kidding, mostly. But whadya asking me for? You should take a look at this to see how it’s supposed to be done!
Also War! And the final climactic ending which, in classic Asimovian style, is people in rooms having conversations! But with tons of intrigue, lots of reveals, and a bit of what some might even call romance.
There’s more! A special report from our man on the scene at Star Trek: Mission Chicago! A special interview with a classic Captain of the USS Enterprise and a special surprise from one of our favorite Foundation actors!
“No Sane Podcast Wants to Uphold an Imperial System That Maintains Itself By Fostering Mutual Hatred and Suspicions”
It is a little-known fact that each April 1st on Terminus, Hologram Hari Seldon would appear in the Vault and, in the absence of a bona fide Seldon Crisis, would launch into the strangest and most mystifying stand-up routines anyone had ever seen from a hologram in a wheelchair. Mostly no one was in attendance but there are legends of routines entertaining maintenance workers and assorted rodents alike. Inexplicably, the jokes were mainly concerned with skin caps, luxurious black mustaches, and someone known only as “Prince Albert in a Can.” Seldon never seemed to warm to the audience centuries in his future.
Encyclopedia Galactica, 116th Edition, 1020 FE.
It’s our penultimate episode on Prelude to Foundation! We wrap up Dors and Hari’s visit to Dahl with more intrigue and more fisticuffs! Did someone call the police? Also, an announcement from Jon that you WILL NOT WANT TO MISS! Let’s go!
“The Podcast Was Alone in the Galaxy for Thousands of Years – Millions of Years”
Did you know that sleep podcasts are a thing? Podcasts that people listen to go to sleep.
You can imagine it, can’t you? Someone like Sam Waterston, Tony Shalhoub, or Jane Lynch probably reading poetry in a quiet, soothing voice. Like, what? I don’t know. Something in the public domain probably. Wordsworth?
Calm is all nature as a resting wheel. The kine are couched upon the dewy grass; The horse alone, seen dimly as I pass, Is cropping audibly his later meal…
I’m sleepy already. Most poets will do, but not Emily Dickinson. Everyone who’s anyone knows that all of her poems can be sung to the tune of the Yellow Rose of Texas. Try it, it’s fun!
Because I could not stop for Death- He kindly stopped for me- The Carriage held but just Ourselves- And Immortality.
We’re not one of those. If you’re reading along with us, this time we’re talking about “Heatsink” and “Billibotton” from Prelude to Foundation.
We’ve left the depilated pates of Mycogen behind, but the strangeness remains. Hari and Dors arrive in Dahl, where all the men luxuriate in their impressive black mustaches and sweaty people provide half of Trantor’s power while in various states of undress. Also, Dors buys TWO knives (“I’ve got two hands,” she explains) and she and Hari fight off a bunch of street toughs. Plus we meet Hari’s future adoptive son Raych and hear the first arcane and enigmatic legends of a planet called “Earth.”
“We Have Something Far Better than Religion We Have a Podcast”
Introducing this episode puts me in mind of Tom Lehrer’s Alma, which was inspired by, as he puts it, “the juiciest, spiciest, raciest obituary it has ever been my pleasure to read.” The amount of prime humor that one mathematician can fit into a three-and-a-half-minute sound clip is impressive.
Hari Seldon, our protagonal mathematician, isn’t nearly so funny. In fact, he seems to take himself quite seriously. But he does get to participate in the juiciest, spiciest, raciest scene in the entire Asimov canon. And that includes the non-fiction.
That scene is also startlingly strange. We’ll talk about it. Then we’ll move on to other grandiose notions like the nature of religion, governmental ethics, and Pascal’s Wager. Also, there is a robot!
Join us as we follow Hari and Dors through the remainder of their sojourn in Mycogen. You’ll be glad you did!