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Celebrating Literacy

Saturday, 15th November 2003

I've begun reading - actually reading, sitting in a chair holding a novel - for the first time in probably seven years or so. It's a good thing. I've become wrapped up in Isaac Asimov's Foundation series. After reading the main trilogy (Foundation, Foundation and Empire and Second Foundation), I've picked up the prequel Prelude to Foundation, which explains how it all began.

The main character, legendary psychohistorian Hari Seldon (although he won't be legendary until the middle of Foundation), is discovering some ancient history, shrouded in antiquity and myth, about the origins of humanity. He's not sure how much of it is true, if any - the legends say humanity originated on one single planet, then speaks of an original 50 worlds, and mentions machines called “robots” that were made to look exactly like humans. Apparently some people believe one of these robots still exists, some 20,000 years later. Naturally, Dr. Seldon isn't sure he believes any of this, but I know. I remember. Humans did originate on a single planet, there were robots, humanity did settle on fifty colonies before abandoning their home planet to expand into the galaxy. And one robot, R. Daneel, somehow survived through it all. I know all this because I've read all these books before, long enough ago that I've forgotten all but a few details which are now coming back.

If you, like me, have gone too long without picking up a book, give it a try. Visit your local public library and start with The Complete Robot (don't worry, it's just a collection of short stories, you don't have to read it all at once), then move on to The Caves Of Steel and The Naked Sun. After that, you might want to skip to the Foundation trilogy I mentioned. Prelude to Foundation has a good chronology in the beginning; you'll definitely want to read the entire saga. I'll certainly be re-reading it myself in the coming months.


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