Isaac Asimov – “Singer of the Empire”
If you haven’t read the Isaac Asimov’s book series “Foundation” and don’t want spoilers, we recommend that you return to this article after reading the books.
The singer of the empire is usually called Rudyard Kipling. However, Isaac Asimov – the author of the famous cycle of novels about the Galactic Empire and the Foundation, in my opinion deserves this epithet much more. Kipling glorified the really existing British Empire in which he lived. Azimov was a singer of a fictional empire, so to speak, of some ideal of the empire, which Azimov’s imagination transferred to a very distant future, separated from our era by at least several tens of thousands of years.
REFERENCE! First, Asimov wrote the first trilogy (“Foundation” (1951), “Foundation and Empire” (1952), “Second Foundation” (1953), then in the 80s Asimov returned to the cycle and wrote the second trilogy “Crisis of Foundation” ( 1982), “Foundation and Earth” (1986), “Prelude to the Foundation” (1988), and in the early 90s the last novel about the Foundation “The Way to the Foundation” (1993). In addition, with the help of three more novels written earlier (“A Pebble in the Sky” (1950), “Stars Like Dust” (1951), “Cosmic Currents” (1952)), he connected novels about the Foundation and the Empire with novels about Detective Elijah Bailey and Super Robot D Eniele Olivo (Steel Caves (1954), The Naked Sun (1957), Robots of the Dawn (1983), Robots and the Empire (1985)). The result is a saga of 14 novels that describes the twelve thousand-year period of “history of the future” “- from the development by the earthlings of the Galaxy to the crisis and fall of the First Galactic Empire, and the establishment of two Foundations, which were supposed to grow into a second Empire, but gave rise to the superorganism of Galaxia. The whole cycle is connected by a common character – the robot Daniel, who has existed for about 20 millennia and is a kind of “guardian angel” of humanity in Asimov.
The ideal galactic empire
The galactic empire of Asimov is an ideal not because there are no shortcomings, internal contradictions and discords in it. Quite the contrary, Azimov depicts her in this sense very realistically and the empire of the future is not inferior to modern states in terms of bureaucracy, corruption and political conflicts. It’s just that the empire (or in any case the great empires of antiquity, and above all the Roman one, which acts as a model for Asimov) always seeks to identify itself with the whole world, and to imagine everything that is beyond its borders as a barbaric outskirts, where there is no some developed culture and civilization and despicable wildness reigns. About this, in particular, wrote such a famous researcher in the field of empire studies as Svetlana Lurie. In a sense, any empire considers itself to be the “Middle Kingdom” (as the Chinese empire called itself), encompassing the whole world mastered by civilized people, the whole “ecumenical world”. In this regard, the Galactic Empire of Asimov is the bringing to the logical conclusion of the idea of the empire in general.
There are no aliens in the Asimov Universe. Intelligent creatures are represented only by humanity, which originated on planet Earth, on the outskirts of the Milky Way galaxy and after the discovery of hyperspace flights that allow you to travel any distance through the “hyperspace” that inhabited all suitable for life planets in this galaxy. After a long period of chaos and space wars between planets and planetary unions, the Trentorian kingdom rose, then the Trentorian Republic (with the capital on the planet Trentor, located near the center of the Galaxy) and soon it turned into a Galactic empire, extending to the very end of the last spiral arm of the Galaxy and including all inhabited worlds, that is, all of humanity. In other words, the galactic empire of Asimov literally includes the whole world inhabited by people, all of humanity. Outside of it, there are only dead planets, systems of planets and galaxies that do not know intelligent life, and also endless spaces filled with discharged interstellar gas (in the Galaxy itself, the Empire does not include only the hermaphrodite planet – the Solarium, which no one has known for many tens of thousands of years but they are not really people …).
What version of the future does Asimov describe?
We outline the Galactic Empire, which rises from the pages of the books of Asimov. We are talking about the distant future, which shares a period of tens of thousands of years with our era (the Prelude to the Foundation speaks of 20,000 years since people invented computers and began to accumulate all available knowledge in them).
Humanity, which has populated all the planets of the galaxy suitable for life, speaks a single language that has its basis in English – the language of the native planet of people – the Earth, which has united before the era of interstellar flights (in “A Pebble in the Sky” Asimov mentions that the city became the capital of a single Earth Vashin, in which Washington is easily recognizable).