Isaac Asimov and Frank Herbert remain two of the most popular and influential science fiction writers of the 20th century. Each is a master structuralist whose works succeed in large part through the careful mirroring of concepts at every narrative level. While the fiction of Herbert and Asimov has attracted scholarly attention, science itself is a crucial element that is almost completely ignored in critical assessments of science fiction as literature. Because the works of Asimov and Herbert are grounded in scientific premises, an appreciation of their literary structure depends on an understanding of the scientific concepts informing them. This book examines Herbert's Dune series and Asimov's Foundation trilogy and robot stories from the perspective of chaos theory to elucidate the structure of their works.
Chaos theory is the study of orderly patterns in turbulent, dynamic, or erratic systems. The order of these systems stems from the interdependence of numerous interlocking events or components. These may take the form of fractal structures, in which similar but not necessarily identical structures are replicated across the same scale and increasingly smaller scales. This book argues that in drawing upon apparently chaotic natural and scientific systems, Herbert and Asimov created fractal narrative structures in their works.
Introduction Asimov's Foundation Series Psychohistory and Chaos Theory: Metaseries' Architecture and the Foundation Series' Premise and Plot Structure The Back-up Plan, Guardian ship, and Disguise: Interrelated Fractal Motifs on the Same and Descending Levels of Scale The Persistence of Prejudice: Asimov's Crusade Against Bigotry as a Fractal Theme Asimov's Robot Stories and Novels Chaor-Theory Concepts in the Robot Stories and Novels Reiterated Plots and Themes in the Robot Novels Integrating the Metaseries Herbert's Dune Series "Plots Within Plots...Patterns Within Patterns": Chaos-Theory Structures and Concepts in the Dune Series The Monomyth as Fractal Pattern in the Dune Series The Monomyth and Chaos Theory: "Perhaps we should believe in magic" Endnotes Bibliography Index