Foundation | Isaac Asimov

Foundation (Foundation #1) by Isaac Asimov first published 1951

For twelve thousand years the Galactic Empire has ruled supreme. Now it is dying. But only Hari Seldon, creator of the revolutionary science of psychohistory, can see into the future — to a dark age of ignorance, barbarism, and warfare that will last thirty thousand years. To preserve knowledge and save mankind, Seldon gathers the best minds in the Empire — both scientists and scholars — and brings them to a bleak planet at the edge of the Galaxy to serve as a beacon of hope for a future generations. He calls his sanctuary the Foundation.

But soon the fledgling Foundation finds itself at the mercy of corrupt warlords rising in the wake of the receding Empire. Mankind’s last best hope is faced with an agonizing choice: submit to the barbarians and be overrun — or fight them and be destroyed. 

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How was it?

If you read this book, it might not be immediately apparent that it was first published in the 1950s. 70 years ago! that little fact blows my mind because except maybe for two things, one of which is the style the story is told, this book could have been written in recent years.

There are many interesting elements in this book, it’s a great story, clearly a space opera but the things that I gravitated toward are the political maneuverings, the clever back and forth between characters, and the use of religion as a tool of mass control. However the monotone way the story is written comes through the page even when you’re not using the audiobook. It’s kind of dry, like reading from a dictionary for the most parts. The characters have names and job titles but little else besides that, they are not very memorable. The most engaging aspect of the story are the themes and concepts that it’s about (Politics, religion, psychohistory, etc.). You pretty much have to read between the lines to draw something out of it.

It’s a broad, imaginative, and innovative book that must have blown people’s minds – and angered some others – in the 50s as I’m sure it still does today. Like Dune, which was published almost 15 years later, Foundation has lot of social and political commentary in it. In fact, the most obvious one is the creation and use of a religion as a mean to control people. This might anger some religious people but the dry tone of the book helps in presenting that idea as a possible powerful tool for control of the masses without really depicting religion itself as a complete fraud but kind of.

As mentioned earlier the other thing that might date this book in the 1950s – maybe it’s my prejudice of the era – but it’s a bit of a sausage fest. I only realized it when a lone female character appeared out of nowhere toward the end and she does nothing for the plot. Not saying that Asimov was misogynistic but it was startling once I realized it.

Foundation is far more interesting than the way it’s written would suggest, it’s one of these books that are worth trudging through for the ideas alone.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

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Hawkeye | Trailer

  • Headwriter: Jonathan Igla
  • Director: Rhys Thomas, Bert & Bertie
  • Stars: Jeremy Renner, Hailee Steinfeld, Vera Farminga, Fra Fee, Tony Dalton, Zahn McClarnon, Brian d’Arcy James, Alaqua Cox

From the trailer alone it looks like the series is heavily inspired by Matt Fraction and David Aja‘s comic run on Hawkeye, which was to be expected because it was a great run. The most surprising thing about it is the Christmas setting, it probably wouldn’t have crossed my mind for Hawkeye but it works. It’s perfect for the character, who’s a family man, and allows us to see him in a different light. There’s also a cheerful, more comedic tone to the show

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Dune | Frank Herbert

Set on the desert planet Arrakis, Dune is the story of the boy Paul Atreides, heir to a noble family tasked with ruling an inhospitable world where the only thing of value is the “spice” melange, a drug capable of extending life and enhancing consciousness. Coveted across the known universe, melange is a prize worth killing for…

When House Atreides is betrayed, the destruction of Paul’s family will set the boy on a journey toward a destiny greater than he could ever have imagined. And as he evolves into the mysterious man known as Muad’Dib, he will bring to fruition humankind’s most ancient and unattainable dream.

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How was it?

Dune is one of these books that keeps getting recommended by casual and avid readers alike, but the only reason why it jumped forward on my TBR list is the movie. I’ve been interested in this book for years but it never felt like the right time to pick it up, until that first trailer for Denis Villeneuve’s movie hit. I was mad because I wanted to experience this story in book form first. Usually I don’t care, books and their adaptation(s) are separate entities for me but I didn’t want any visuals for the new movie to influence my interpretation of this world. I wanted to dive in and let Herbert’s words show me this world, and you know what? He f’ing did. Despite loving the glimpses I had in the Dune‘s movie trailer I completely forgot about that a few pages into this book.

The plot is very rich and complex – I’ve read bigger books than this one that feels shallow in comparison -; the world building is amazing, it’s foreign and new with enough familiarity to what we know to never get lost in it. Dune touches on so many subjects that it could have been a mess in the hand of less experienced and/or skilled writer. Herbert also explores some many themes (geopolitics, religion, environmentalism, colonisation, family, etc.) that it makes this world he created for this book feel so real and tangible, because it kind of is. It’s a clever commentary on our society’s past, present, and – if we’re honest with ourselves – futur. The commentary applied in 1965 when this book was first published, and it’s still applies today.
Dune might be presented as a science-fiction, futuristic story set on the desert planet of Arrakis, but the political maneuvering at play here is reminiscent of many real world issues in which places are colonized or swarmed for their prized ressource that everyone wants it regardless of the effect the mining of that ressource has on the native population or the local environment.

What I’m saying might make this book sound like some preachy SJW book but even if it was, and you happen not to be into that, the novel is written in such a way that at different stages of your life you might pull something different from it. Dune works on multiple levels, which is why it’s still as successful as it is, that said while I appreciated many aspects of the book I am not dying to read to read the follow ups but I want to. And also Paul started to annoy at the end.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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Cinderella (2021) | What If Ella was like Belle?

This modern interpretation of Charles Perrault’s classic fairytale by Kay Cannon is a comedy musical featuring well-known pop and rock hits, in addition to several original songs. Camila Cabello stars as the title character in her acting debut, alongside Nicholas Galitzine (The Craft: Legacy, Handsome Devil) as the prince, Billy Porter (Pose) as the fairy Godmother, Idina Menzel (Frozen) as the Stepmother, and Pierce Brosnan (A Long Way Down, The November Man) & Minnie Driver (About a Boy) as the king and queen.

Premise:  Ella is an ambitious young woman who has big dreams for her future that are thwarted by her patriarchal society. With the help of her Fab Godmother, she perseveres to make them come true.

Review: Going in I didn’t know this movie was a Jukebox Musical, which is not a problem for me since I loved Moulin Rouge, but it’s important to note that it is one because that helps a lot in the enjoyment of the movie. The song choices are great, they work well with the story, modernizing it just enough and making it fresh.

Even knowing this was a musical, I was still shocked at the talent involved. For one I recognized a lot of British comedians and actors, but I kind of expected just a few cast members to sing. Here most of them have a musical number or/and participate in one. There are also many clever little changed to the story that shift things a bit without them being a total reboot of the story and characters. In this version some characters have more to do while others were added to the story. For example, Menzel’s stepmother is more mean than straight up evil and her motivations make some sense, the king and queen have more to do, and changes have been made to the prince that matches with the ones made to Ella.
Ella has more agency, she’s driven, and not exactly waiting to be saved. She’s more like Belle than the classic Cinderella. I also like that Cinderella wasn’t supposed to be considered ugly, just unkempt, her stepsisters even acknowledges that she is beautiful at one point. I always found it weird in other versions that everyone seem to act like she’s ugly until she puts on sparkling dress.

The movie also has a lot of comedy in it, and the cast does a great job with it. Cabello being the least experienced here doesn’t embarrass herself in her performance, she does a good job. Porter as the fairy godmother fits in so well that it doesn’t distract from the movie at all. Music aside, the plot has a whole is what that fairytale would be like if it was written nowadays. it’s not perfect but it entertains.

Cinderella is a fun movie, with a nice song selection, and changes that brings a nice spin to the classic fairytale.

Rating: 6 out of 10.

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