Seldon Crisis – The Podcast

In this short episode we summarize the major characters and events of Season 1 covering the first novel, Foundation, in Isaac Asimov's seven novel epic, and tease a few of the major events to be covered in Season 2 corresponding to the novel Foundation and Empire. Also, a brief mention of the Apple TV+ upcoming TV series and a few callouts to the Foundation online community.

Show Notes

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Show notes:

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Transcript:

[Theme music]

Welcome back dear friends, and I regret to inform you that this is not the first episode of season 2, but a mere postscript to season 1 and a quick preview of upcoming attractions. In looking back I want to say how much this has been a blast to do and I am just thrilled that there are people out there who find it worthwhile to listen. You encourage me to do my best to continue the story. Our next season will feature some amazing characters and some truly mind-blowing plot twists, but I’ll get to that in a bit. First a quick recap of the story thus far.

In our first episode, The Psychohistorians, young PhD student Gaal Dornick left his home planet of Synnax and traveled to the capital of the empire, Trantor. He discovered his boss, Hari Seldon, waiting for him in his hotel room and was told the empire was due to collapse imminently, then got arrested along with him and stood trial for disturbing the peace. Seldon tricked the High Commissioner Linge Chen into sending him, Dornick, and 100,000 of his followers to the edge of the galaxy to a lonely and primitive planet named Terminus, where they were to catalog all of the knowledge of the human race into a grand Encyclopedia Galactica (or so they thought).

In The Encyclopedists, we saw the fledgling colony of Terminus face its first “Seldon crisis” when the belligerent nearby system of Anacreon broke away from the Empire and threatened the Foundation with imminent annexation. The clever young Mayor of Terminus City used the Foundation’s technological advantage – chiefly the understanding of nuclear power – to convince Anacreon’s powerful neighbors to join in an alliance against them. This was the first occasion in which Hari Seldon’s recorded image appeared in The Vault, the specially designed chamber in which he would periodically provide updates on the Seldon Plan. To the horror of Lewis Pirenne and his Board of Trustees Seldon informed them that the ostensible reason for their project, the creation of the Encyclopedia, was a fraud. Their real purpose was simply to take over the galaxy.

A generation later, in The Mayors we found Hardin firmly in power and facing an even more serious threat from Anacreon in the person of the wicked regent Wienis who intended to use his nephew Lepold’s coronation to launch a powerful attack upon Terminus, but again Hardin had the political skills to rise to the occasion. He had turned the knowledge of sophisticated technology and especially of nuclear science to form a false religion, and with the help of Foundation High Priest Poly Verisof, turned the tables on Wienis and brought him to a humiliating and rather messy end.

Later, we took a quick side trip with smooth-talking salesman Limmar Ponyets in The Traders on a high-stakes rescue mission to the Kingdom of Askone, where the ethically-challenged protagonist used sophisticated high tech extortion to free his comrade and get the superstitious Askonians hooked on Foundation gadgetry.

Still later, in The Merchant Princes, Hober Mallow dueled on the home front with the powerful politician Jorrain Sutt and on the distant planet of Korell with the tired but still greedy Commdor Asper and his well-connected but difficult wife, the Commdora Licia. He used a similar technical trick to catch the spy Jaim Twer and his faux priest Jord Parma in an act designed to undermine Mallow’s authority through character assassination. A side trip to visit an old man named Onum Barr on the unfortunate planet of Siwenna may have appeared almost incidental, but will have significant implications in our next chapter. Don’t worry – I’ll bring you up to speed when we get there.

After all that whirlwind activity and so many strange names you might wonder what you really need to remember going forward. To be honest, it’s not much, and I’ll try to help with that too. For now, just keep a space for Hari Seldon, Salvor Hardin, and Hober Mallow in your memory banks. They will be referred to frequently as the legendary founding fathers of Foundation and as we march through the ages to come.

While we get ready to start into the next great chapter of this epic in Season 2, the novel Foundation and Empire, I want to bring up something else that I haven’t discussed much yet, and that is the new and ambitious TV series based on Foundation to begin streaming on AppleTV+ starting on September 24th of this year. Interviews with the showrunner indicate they intend an ambitious 80 episodes! A lot of commentary in the online community has sprung up around some significant departures from the original storyline evident in the pre-release trailers, including three generations of rulers on Trantor named Brothers Dawn, Day, and Dusk (no Cleons), and a much larger role for Gaal Dornick. The latter has been cast as a female person of color, as is Salvor Hardin, who also seems to be lugging around a large weapon quite out of character for the Hardin we’ve come to know and love. In my opinion, the gender swaps and greater diversity is welcome, while some of the changes in basic plot may be a bit harder to swallow. Then again, this is the year 2021, and if it wants to succeed in capturing the imagination of today’s audience it probably needs to make some significant changes to grab the attention span of a far different audience than the one that was introduced to the original stories. I’m rooting for it to succeed and I hope it draws even more people to read the source material, and maybe even listen to this podcast!

There’s getting to be a lot of buzz about the show, and this is bringing a lot of Asimov fans out of the woodwork online. I’ve already mentioned the r/asimov subthread on Reddit and a couple of others are dedicated more directly to Foundation and the upcoming TV series and I’ll link to these in the show notes. Another great place to stay caught up is my friend Luigi at his Youtube channel Foundation Era. He’s put together a string of videos analyzing the tea leaves from the limited material Apple has produced, as well as one on the Asimov Future Timeline I mentioned in episode 6. Luigi was kind enough to give Seldon Crisis a plug on his most recent video, which resulted in an enormous spike in downloads for this podcast, so thank you very much Luigi!

There’s another new podcast that I just discovered I want to call out by the name of Star’s End. The three co-hosts; Dan, Jon, and Joseph, are a joy to listen to as they talk about the latest news on the TV show, discuss Asimov trivia, and introduce listeners to the original story in a way that I find really compliments my approach on this podcast. It’s like getting invited over to hang out with some Asimov geek friends just having a good time talking about their favorite topic. You can find it on all the major platforms like Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify and Anchor and they have a website at http://starsendpodcast.wordpress.com or you can find them at the twitter handle @StarsEndPodcast. Links in the show notes, of course.

I expect more podcasts, youtube channels, and other platforms to spring up as the Apple show gets closer and really welcome the growth of this robust online community. The more the merrier!

Some of you have asked how you can help to support my efforts to produce this podcast, so I’ve started a patreon page. For now it’s going to be really simple because I just thought of it, like this minute, and there are a lot of ways I might end up using it. The link will be in the show notes and I’ll provide more info when I develop it a bit more.

So, what’s coming up? Only one of the most amazing and stimulating novels I’ve ever had the joy of reading. Foundation and Empire is the middle novel of the original trilogy, and some say the best. There are two chapters which I’m going to break up into five episodes. First up is The General, Part one of two, the three episodes of The Mule. In the first episode we’ll meet two descendants of characters from The Merchant Princes and a young general of the declining Empire determined to reverse their fortunes and stamp out the emerging and still tiny Foundation. The Mule will feature Asimov’s first compelling female character in the epic as well as one of the most compelling anti-heroes in all of fiction - not just science fiction.

I’ve got some subtle and not so subtle surprises coming in this season - besides the colossal ones Asimov will bring in his elegant story construction. Stay tuned for a fabulous season 2 beginning in only two weeks. I can hardly wait to bring it from my humble studio to your waiting ears. Stay on this channel, subscribe if you haven’t yet, and you’ll be hearing soon from a new season of Seldon Crisis.

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What is Seldon Crisis – The Podcast?

A personal exploration of Isaac Asimov's Foundation epic, including commentary and analysis.