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Did Isaac Asimov lose his touch towards the end in the Robots and Foundations series? Message Board

Remember the Lucky Starr series? They were short, and had action. Remember the early Foundation series? A collection of short stories that proceeded at a reasonable pace. Remember the early Robot books? They were constantly on the move, solving mysteries and having adventures.

Now remember the later Foundation and Robot books. They... were... so... slow... The talk-to-action ratio went up 500% and very little happened, and his stories had all the excitement of a pair of academics holding a 300 page theoretical discussion (Golan Trevize and Janov Patheticrat come to mind). Do you think that as Asimov ran out of energy his characters did too?


io posts on 9/12/2005 9:24:00 PM See, there are two kinds of novels I can think of. On one hand, there's the action-oriented novel, where the charachters are sort of standardized and seem to be there just in order to carry out the plot of the story: their talks are rather task-oriented, very little is left to the charachters themselves as people (why, as ordinary people too).On the other hand, there's the character-oriented novel, where talks, descriptions outnumber the action (it comes to fall short sometimes) and the plot seems to adjust itself to the exigences of the characters: they have the chance to show their personalities, to fathom some subjects and so to explain what lies behind the action (because, in a novel, action itself must be explained and fathomed to be something more than a superficial report of events). That's why I tend to prefer the character-oriented novel (it seems to me that the action-oriented novels lack something to be complete) and that's why I like Asimov's style in his late books (I'm not talking about the plots themselves, this is just a matter of style)
Eric Voorhies posts on 8/11/2005 4:43:12 AM Asimov was a firm believer in the idea that thought and discussion are more important in the long run than action. His protagonists were usually thinker/tacticians who figured out how to get big results from small changes- either that, or the protagonists were bit players in the actual unfolding of events. His early stories were somewhat MORE active, true. Later on, he wrote more novels and fewer short stories. A writer always emphasizes characterization and dialogue more in a novel than in a novella or short story (if said writer is any good). Asimov was dialogue-heavy in the shorter stories, so it's no surprise that his characters grew wordy enough to put people off when he wrote actual novels.


Note: the views expressed here are only those of the posters.
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