Since I’ve already had my say about why the Hard Science Fiction label is a misnomer (see my article titled Fantasy Fans’ Sci-Fi Ain’t Sci-Fi), I have decided to share some work by Isaac Asimov, a writer some consider to be a master of science fiction and fantasy. Asimov’s writing career spanned more than fifty years and his career was prolific: the Foundation Series, Galactic Empire series, the Robot series, many short stories, mysteries, fantasies, and even nonfiction titles. A number of his works have received awards. If you are a science fiction and fantasy reader, you may find dismissing Asimov’s works difficult simply because of the recognition of his name. It would be a tragedy on my part for not sharing his BBC radio drama The Foundation Trilogy with my readers.
The Foundation Series science, Psychohistory, is fictional and, therefore, the science is fantasy. But Asimov makes Psychohistory interesting to the scientific reader: the stories’ main character, Hari Seldon, struggles to realize Psychohistory as a science through scientific means–could the laws of statistics be applied to large groups of people and predict the general flow of future events? (Asimov postulates using an analogy of a gas.) In fact, the author, Asimov, and the main character are admitting to the fantasy. If you dig deep into the story and you appreciate physics–or science, in general–, the Foundation Series may delight you with the stories’ scientific underpinnings.