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Isaac Asimov’s Foundation – Validity of Science Fiction

Isaac Asimov’s Foundation and the trilogy named after it represent a pinnacle in science fiction. Science fiction lovers from every walk of life have joined together to praise Asimov and Foundation. Furthermore, this series has been awarded the first Hugo Award for Best Science Fiction Series. Not before or since the publication of Foundation has this award been given. Despite this recognition, the mainstream literary critics ignore works of science fiction as candidates for more prestigious awards. Instead, science fiction is often dismissed as technology-dependent literature, immature in character development, theme, and structure. A large portion of the literary world still levels a sniff and a scoff toward Foundation and indeed the entire genre of science fiction.

Asimov’s Foundation can be seen as an archetype demonstrating the validity of science fiction and refuting these criticisms. It is argued that the writings of Asimov are the foundation upon which much of science fiction is built upon. From the outset Asimov maintained a strong faith in the genre, believing that its status will be enhanced with time. “If enough people read science fiction or are, at least, sufficiently influenced by people who read science fiction” he wrote, “enough of the population may come to accept change….”(Asimov 4)

Several differences between Foundation, and therefore science fiction exemplified by Foundation, and the other divisions of literature must be considered before judging the genre. First, a whole different approach must be taken before judgment. Foundation deals with a nearly limitless range of possibilities. Therefore, the mind must be adapted to put aside incredulity and disbelief.

Secondly, Foundation deals with event…

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…elope into unknown territory. This constitutes change. Historically, change is slow to come. The negative and judgmental reactions to Foundation and science fiction come from those who resist change, however unfounded their criticism may be.

Science fiction is the one branch of literature that accepts the fact of change, the inevitability of change. Without the initial assumption that there will be change, there is no such thing as science fiction, for nothing is science fiction unless it includes events played out against a social or physical background significantly different from our own.(Asimov 4)

In our view, science fiction, particularly as represented by such works as Asimov’s Foundation, is a valid form of literature, and time will see it through.

Works Cited:

Asimov, Isaac. Foundation and Empire. Garden City, NY: Double Day

Defending Egotism and Individualism in The Fountainhead

Defending Egotism and Individualism in The Fountainhead

“The structures were austere and simple, until one looked at them and realized what work, what complexity of method, what tension of thought had achieved the simplicity. No laws had dictated a single detail. The buildings were not Classical, they were not Gothic, they were not Renaissance. They were only Howard Roark.”

This dialogue in the powerful book The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand, set in the early 1920’s in the city of skyscrapers, New York, describes the unique building style of the architect, Howard Roark which parallels his uncompromising and individualistic personality. Roark is forced to overcome collectivism in a society where Dominique Francon, a beautiful and wealthy woman, is the only person who understands his intentions and desires, while Peter Keeting, a third-rate architect whose career is successful due to his conformity to society, yearns to find self-respect, and Ellsworth Toohey, a Humanitarian, searches to destroy men’s souls in his quest for power over mankind. In this extraordinary book, Rand combines both her seductive philosophic views with a touch of romance to tell the story of the dangerous effects of conformity of a society and of one man’s struggle and ultimate success against these forces.

The aura around the brilliant man, Howard Roark, is intimidating and obscure. He is feared by people of various stature, including the Dean of the Architectural School of Stanton Island of Technology where Roark is expelled for refusing to do projects in any style but his own, and Peter Keeting, a star student of this reputable school, who often times becomes angry after conversations with Roark because he can’t understand the secureness his classmate feels about himself and his work while he fails to share the same confidence. Roark’s eagerness to learn about architecture guides him to the office of Henry Cameron, a man who at one time was considered amongst the greatest architects but since has disappeared from the public eye to settle into a minute office and given only a few commissions. Roark pursues a job in the office of this “old-fashioned” architect because he admires Cameron’s style. After his employer’s illness and retirement, Roark ventures into many jobs, but is eventually fired from all of them because of his uncompromising attitude toward his work. After establishing his own business he receives minimal work because the buildings that he designs are not accepted by the public and are insulted in newspaper reviews.

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