Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Book excerpt of the day

From Robots and Empire, by Isaac Asimov

"... Woman, don't speak of kinship to us. You are no kin of mine. You are of those who persecuted and tried to destroy us when you were strong and who come whining to us when you are weak."

There was a stir in the audience - and by no means a friendly one - but Bistervan held his ground firmly.

Gladia said softly, "Do you remember the evil we did when we were strong?"

Bistervan said, "Don't fear that we will forget. It is in our minds every day."

"Good! Because now you know what to avoid. You have learned that when the strong oppress the weak, that is wrong. Therefore, when the table turns and when you are strong and we are weak, you will not be oppressive."

"Ah, yes. I have heard the argument. When you were strong, you never heard of morality, but now that you are weak, you preach it earnestly."

"In your case, though, when you were weak, you knew all about morality and were appalled by the behavior of the strong - and now that you are strong, you forget morality. Surely, it is better that the immoral learn morality through adversity than the moral forget morality in prosperity."

"We will give what we received," said Bistervan, holding up his clenched fist.

"You should give what you would have liked to receive," said Gladia, holding out her arms, as though embracing. "Since everyone can think of some past injustice to avenge, what you are saying, my friend, is that it is right for the strong to oppress the weak. And when you say that, you justify the Spacers of the past and should therefore have no complaint of the present. What I say is that oppression was wrong when we practiced it in the past and that it will be equally wrong when you practice it in the future. We cannot change the past, unfortunately, but we can still decide on what the future shall be."


Alan said...

I had a crush on Gladia when I read these books years ago.

Though even then I realized Assimov generally does not write women well.

But then again, characters were not his strong suit. Ideas were.

One somewhat lesser work (compared to Foundation and Robots)of his that I really enjoyed was the "End of Eternity".

Hume's Ghost said...

Yeah, Asimov tends to write the robots more interesting than the humans.

And thanks for the tip on End of Eternity. Myself, I really enjoyed The Gods Themselves. And along the lines of lesser works - Azazel