Wisdom Wednesday: Try

Scene: A visionary academic, Hari Seldon, has attracted the attention and wrath of the Emperor, and is fleeing for his life with the assistance of “Chester Hummin”, a journalist. The two men take refuge in a dismal diner and Hummin urges Seldon to help him stop the slow death of the Galactic Empire.


“Hummin said, ‘Well, then, you’re part of the decay. You’re ready to accept failure.’
‘What choice have I?’
‘Can’t you try? However useless the effort may seem to you to be, have you anything better to do with your life? Have you some worthier goal? Have you a purpose that will justify you in your own eyes to some greater extent?

Seldon’s eyes blinked rapidly. ‘Millions of worlds. Billions of cultures. Quadrillions of people. Decillions of interrelationships — And you want me to reduce it to order.’
‘No. I want you to try. For the sake of those millions of worlds, billions of cultures, and quadrillions of people. Not for the Emperor. Not for Demerzel. For humanity.’
‘I will fail,’ said Seldon.
‘Then we will be no worse off. Will you try?’

And against his will and not knowing why, Seldon heard himself say, ‘I will try.’ And the course of his life was set.

p. 57-58, Prelude to Foundation. Isaac Asimov. Reading this at supper Tuesday night, I realized with a start that when I first read this twelve years ago, I was Hummin, full of idealism, energy, and optimism. Now I’m definitely across the table, right next to Seldon, in much need of a Hummin (or a Jordan Peterson) to lead me away from cynicism and apathy.

About smellincoffee

Citizen, librarian, reader with a boundless wonder for the world and a curiosity about all the beings inside it.
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7 Responses to Wisdom Wednesday: Try

  1. Cyberkitten says:

    I’m *planning* to read the Foundation series (as well as the Dune series) next year after being reminded of it by the new (Apple TV?) upcoming series. I read both series in my mid-late teens so that was a LONG time ago. [grin] Both had a HUGE impact on me so it’ll be interesting to revisit them. At least now I have a chance to revisit Dune as the movie has been put back a year!

  2. Mudpuddle says:

    it’s been way too long since i read Asimov; i’d like to read all the books in order but i don’t know what they would be, there’s so many added… maybe i haven’t got time enough left, anyhow…

  3. Cyberkitten says:

    1. Prelude to Foundation (1988)
    2. Forward the Foundation (1993)
    3. Foundation (1951)
    aka The 1,000 Year Plan
    4. Foundation and Empire (1952)
    aka The Man Who Upset the Universe
    5. Second Foundation (1953)
    6. Foundation’s Edge (1982)
    7. Foundation and Earth (1986)

    Second Foundation
    1. Foundation’s Fear (1997)
    2. Foundation and Chaos (1998)
    3. Foundation’s Triumph (1999)

    • Have you read the “Second Foundation” series? I’ve been tempted. As I remember, the latter Foundation books also ret-con the Robots and Empire books so that they’re all in the same meta-series, with the common denominator being R. Daneel Olivaw. And “End of Eternity” is supposedly part of this universe, too, at least in explaining why the Foundation universe has no alien life. It’s the one Asimov novel I’ve not yet, though.

      • Cyberkitten says:

        I’ve only read 3-6 of the ‘original’ series and all of those MANY years ago! I’m planning on reading all 10 in timeline order next year some time. I’ll need to make some purchases though. I do have the first 6 of the Dune series already though. I’ve only read the first trilogy before now so there’s a lot of new stuff in there even before I get to the less well recommended extra stuff by Herbert’s son.

      • If I could make a suggestion….reading in publishing order might be better, because you can see Asimov’s development of the world grows…..but if you’ve already read the original books there’s probably no harm done!

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