It sticks in my mind. My all-time favourite

Welcome back to another blog hop, with #OpenBook. Here’s this week’s prompt.

Do you have a favourite piece of literature? What is it and why is it your favourite?

It would have to be the Foundation series by Isaac Asimov. I first read the original three books back in the early 1970s, when I was a teenager. I was initially attracted to them by the incredible covers, by Chris Foss, which made a large picture if all three were placed side by side.

They were the first adult Sci-fi that I had ever read and they launched an obsession that has remained ever since. Reading the series did something to my mind, expanded the way I thought in a way that no book had done before. I read and re-read them until I almost knew the story by heart. The wonderful thing about them was that every time, I would spot something that I hadn’t noticed or registered before. 

They seemed so fresh and original, when I learned that the first parts of the story were published in 1942, it somehow made them even more special.

Although I cannot be sure, I suspect that they influenced the world-building in my first Dave Travise story, which I started writing in 1979. They certainly showed me how to construct a working universe and describe a planet in three lines. Even now, if I close my eyes, I can still see Trantor, Terminus and all the other locations in those books perfectly.

When I saw the first of the “new” parts of the series on sale, back in the early 1980s, I was so excited to know that the story would continue and read them all as they emerged. They fitted together so well with the originals, which by then were over 40 years old, in style and content.

Which is surely a testament to how well they had been written in the first place.

Now I see that there is a T.V. adaptation in production. I’ve seen the trailer and I’m slightly concerned that it will be a disappointment.

After all, the broadcast media have a history of turning incredible literature into formulaic series, introducing things that weren’t there, changing names and “adding” action/bloodshed/romance to “enhance” (make it more appealing to advertisers) the story.

My own view is that, if Asimov or indeed any author had wanted those things in their work, they would have inserted them in the first place!

Oh dear, I was getting into a rant there.

I know that the books are so incredibly detailed that it would be almost impossible to recreate them on screen, even so, it would be a travesty to produce something that is merely “based on” the stories, rather than a faithful retelling. That, while it might appeal to people, may well lead to disappointment when they read the books.

And that works both ways.

The trouble is, there will be only one way to find out if the vision lives up to the source.

Let me know what you think about this week’s subject.

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14 Responses

  1. Steven Smith

    I’ve not read any Asimov, though I would really like to! I may have to try this series. Is it where the three laws came from?

    I know where you coming from, mind you, about on-screen adaptations. Hollywood attempted to distil the nuance of the monumental multi-book The Dark Tower series by Stephen King into one frankly poor film. The original version of The Shining was disappointing too. Sometimes it works though – Frank Darabont’s portrayal of The Green Mile was and still is one of my favourite movies.

    • Richard Dee

      The three laws come from the robot series, I Robot, the Caves of Steel, etc. Although they link with the Foundation series at the end, to begin with, they were separate.

    • Richard Dee

      I think he influenced me a great deal. He didn’t just write Sci-fi, he wrote all sorts of fiction and non-fiction. Like him, I’m not afraid to cross and blend genres.

  2. Daryl Devore

    I like sci-fi, but haven’t ready any of his books.

    I can’t find the link we are supposed to use. The one in the post at MEWE didn’t work for me? How else can I find it?


  3. Lela Markham

    I enjoyed the Foundation series, but I haven’t read it since high school. I should probably put that on the list. I’ve been trying to read at least one of my old favorites every winter.

    • Richard Dee

      I return to the series regularly, and I’m never disappointed when I read them again.

  4. Roberta Eaton Cheadle

    Hi Richard, those three covers that make up a larger picture are great. I’ve never read sci-fi or even much fantasy, although I do like paranormal and dystopian fiction. The movies are always disappointing, but you could never put all the detail from the book into a movie, the movie would be far to long.

    • Richard Dee

      Asimov mixes genres expertly, The Caves of Steel, for example, is a sci-fi detective novel. I hate adaptations that include things that were never in (or implied in) the books.

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