When Books Fail You: The Isaac Asimov Edition


I used to force myself to finish every book I started no matter how much I wasn't liking it. It seemed like it was important to my integrity as a book lover, I think.

Then one day I realized that life is short. It's one thing to sit through a movie you're not loving, but a book? Reading a book is a time investment, and reading is something I do for fun. What do I get out of forcing myself to finish a book I am hating except for some weird pride of always finishing what I begin (a highly overrated principle)?

So recently I stopped reading Prelude to Foundation by Isaac Asimov.

This is the first Isaac Asimov book I have ever read. All I knew of him leading up to this is that he is considered a foundational (no pun intended) writer in sci fi, and that he wrote about robots.

Now I just have questions:

Are all of Isaac Asimov's characters secretly robots?

I can't help but think that if I had read through to the end, I would have learned that this society is made up of robots. Think about it: he is best known for writing about robots and the characters' dialogue sounds like it was generated by a machine.
"Good. I shall remain informal then. For instance, the instinct for formality, if there is such a thing, would cause me to ask permission to sit down. Informally, however, I shall just sit."
Are we sure this woman isn't from the Totally Not Robots subreddit?

Is Asimov himself a light misogynist, or is that just his characters?

While Seldon, the protagonist in Prelude to Foundation, does heroically defend the right of a woman to speak without having been spoken to (how progressive!), he is also "disappointed" when women around him aren't wearing revealing clothing and begrudgingly allows a woman to lead the way, only because he knows the actually does know the way better than he does.

Oh, and it's worth noting that he'll defend his female colleague's right to speak whenever she wants, but is raises no complaints with the notion of her being expected to do the cooking and cleaning for the both of them.

Is Asimov a complete turd of a human, or is that just his characters?

Not only is Seldon a bit of a sexist, but he is kind of a turd, overall. They visit another city that, while backwards in its ways (they are the ones that don't allow women to speak unless spoken to), has deeply held values and practices. He is openly disgusted by them all, only complying under extreme pressure and continually yelling at them that he is "an honoured guest!" whenever he meets with opposition.

Ugh. I'll try reading Foundation, just in case this prelude is an anomaly, but yikes. If these are the kinds of people Asimov writes about, he is not my kind of writer.

Do you force yourself to finish books you aren't enjoying? Tell me about it! Have you felt really glad you did it, or is it usual just a great relief to be finally done?


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