And I'm a fan now !!!
Have just finished The Foundation. Touted to be an iconic book in the Sci-fi genre, it left me hungry for more.
Written in the 50's, it would be cliched to call it "way ahead of its times".
Quite akin to the George Lucas Epics - Star Wars episodes 4-6.
The guy sure has finesse...and is creative as hell.
His gadgets maybe common-place today, i mean micro films and static inducers and televisors...
Even 3-D projections, probably Laser Holograms now...
But he was futuristic for sure...
And the story is so incredibly gripping !!! Amazing how the politics today is not very different from what it was back then...so much for human evolution :-)
Go back 60 yrs in time and imagine a world without mobile communication, no at-the-speed-of-thought computers, no internet, no satellite television, no supersonic travel, no IC chips...and yet this guy could imagine space travel, personal programmable calculators (laptops, anyone ?), individual armours, battery operated jewellery, etc etc etc...
Makes you want to sit back and visualise the future...where do we / could we go from here...
[On a total aside, an interesting perspective brought out by Aniruddha Pandya ( guys, before you google him, he's a friend of mine ) with whom I was discussing this, and he said "If a sci-fi book were to be written today, what would it be like ?"
Food for thought, eh ? ]
Contrast this with H G Wells, who wrote in the late 19th century. He did not have the advantage of having seen electricity, telephony, automobiles, aviation and yet he pioneered fictional time-travel in Time Machine and envisioned War of the Worlds, ( the radio broadcast of which, by Orson Welles on Halloween of 1938, threw the entire US into panic ) which talks about alien invasion and was spectacularly captured by Steven Spielberg in the Tom Cruise starrer by the same name.
Now Wells' works have a more rustic feel to it...the people flee in horse-wagons and hand-carts and his time machine operates with levers, not irridium lit glo-buttons !!!
But he was futuristic too...and how !! The Invisible Man, eg...
Asimov's characters are more suave and techno-savvy. Their lives are more fast paced and aided by technology. And they have their own cyber-village charm.
One disconcerting observation is that the common thread binding all this is the evil and wide-scale havoc being perpetrated through advancement of science.
1984, by George Orwell is another case in point. A brilliant satire on the times we live in, it draws up a dreary image of how oppressed the populace is, being kept in control and under constant watch by the "Big Brother". And all made possible because of technological progress.
Unnerving, don't you think ?
With Cloning and Artificial Intelligence and Robotics and what not, can science overtake the human race ? Are we feeding a Frankenstein ?
But coming back to the point, Asimov rocks...a fantastic read, anytime, in this century or the next ;-)