Raunch Review: Foundation

Raunch Reviews is a series about profanity. Not real profanity, but speculative swearing. Authors often try to incorporate original, innovative forms of profanity into our own fantastical works as a way to expand the worlds we build. Sometimes we’re successful. Often we’re not. In this series, I examine the faux-profanity from various works of sci-fi and fantasy, judge their effectiveness, and rate them on an unscientific and purely subjective scale. This is Raunch Reviews, welcome.


The Author: Isaac Asimov

Work in Question: Foundation

The Profanity: “Space!”


Look, I realize that Isaac Asimov wrote the first Foundation stories in the nineteen-forties, and the first book didn’t arrive until the nineteen-fifties. I also recognize that white Americans, in particular, like to pretend that this was some glorious era of American history where the nuclear family was the norm, everyone washed their hands before dinner, and children always called adults “mister” and “ma’am.” But, I also know this is an era where terms like FUBAR and SNAFU were invented, and a glance through the Green’s Dictionary of Slang records plenty of new vulgarities emerging. So, it’s important to acknowledge that the wholesome mystique of the fifties is mostly myth wrapped up in attractive propaganda. Foul language was common even then, despite what folksy feel-good television programming would like to tell us.

All that said, there’s a reason why that propaganda is effective. Much of the content from that era seems clean—but, publishing was operating under different rules in the middle of the twentieth century, and censorship was in full swing. Publishing something even mildly vulgar was difficult—J. D. Salinger notwithstanding. But that’s not an excuse when it comes to fictional profanity, which makes Asimov’s choice of “space” for a futuristic oath a bit silly, even for its era.

Throughout Foundation, it’s common for characters in the book to shout out a “No, by Black Space, no!” or “Great Space!” and every time it stands out a little more than it should—coming across more cute than effective. I’ve talked about the impact of oaths in the past, especially oaths that are blasphemous, and how they tend to extend beyond the standard lifespan of your typical run-of-the-mill profanity. That’s not what’s happening here. The concept of “space”—at least within the first book—is never treated with a particularly deific reverence. The titular Foundation’s faith is based on knowledge and nuclear energy/power. So when the “space” oath gets referenced, it feels out of place and awkward. Even swearing by “nuclear” or the “atom” would make more sense within the story’s context, and neither would have come across so twee.

Final Score: 2.5


🤬 Previous Raunch Reviews


Have a suggestion for Raunch Reviews? It can be any made-up slang word from a book, television show, or movie. You can email me directly with your recommendation or leave a comment below. I’ll need to spend time with the property before I’ll feel confident reviewing it, so give me a little time. I have a lot of books to read.


Friday Link Pack 06/19/2015

Friday Link Pack 06/19/2015

Rising from its slumber Friday awakens. That means it’s time for the Friday Link Pack! The post where I share a few links I’ve found over the last few days. Some of these I mention on Twitter, if you’re not already following me there, please do! Have a link I should feature in the upcoming link pack? Click here to email me and let me know! (Include a website so I can link to you as well.) Let’s get to it…

WRITING:

What Price An E-book?
Epic fantasy author Mark Lawrence (The Broken Empire series and the new Red Queen’s War series) breaks down the cost of an e-book. I like seeing reminders of this, and it’s cool to see Mark break it down for everyone.

14 Classic Novels Rewritten With Clickbait Titles
If there is one thing Buzzfeed knows it’s clickbait. That said, this list of classic novels did make me chuckle. Animal Farm is my favorite.

The History Of English In 10 Minutes
A great little video from The Open University that does a pretty great job condensing the history and evolution of the English language. The animation that accompanies it is pretty cute as well.

A Reminder That Creators Need To Understand Their Contracts
Hire a contract attorney or work with an agent you trust, just be sure you understand everything written down in your contracts. It’s important.

ART:

6×6 International Group Exhibition
Melbourne’s Auguste Clown gallery is hosting a fantastic exhibit of 6″x6″ pieces from a variety of incredible pop-surrealism artists. (Including Kari-Lise, who is my incredibly talented wife and partner.) Very much worth checking out.

Emily Blincoe’s Arrangements
Subtle changes in gradient and spectrum, neatly organized objects in size, but often with a twist. A lot of fun.

Sam Wolfe Connelly Studio Visit
If you have followed my blog for any length of time you’ll recognize Sam Wolfe Connelly’s name, I’ve even featured him in a previous Link Pack. It’s always fun to see a behind the scenes glimpse into his process. Supersonic takes us on a small journey into Connelly’s New York studio.

RANDOM:

Dear Librarian: New York Public Library’s Quirkiest Inquiries
A cache of cards recovered from the New York Public library’s archive is being published online, revealing the many roles the librarian was expected to play in the days before the internet, from lawyer, doula, to an ethnographer.

Laser Tag At The Edge Of The World
How cool is this? I would have probably exploded if something like this had existed when I was fourteen.

The Heroes We Deserve
Here’s a cool story. African pouched rats are taught to identify landmines, receiving treats for their efforts. The rats are small enough they don’t set off the mines and it allows for the mines recovery and disposal. They’re also darn cute. [Thanks to Sky for sharing this.]

I Can Text You A Pile of Poo, But I Can’t Write My Name
A thoughtful article on the current disparity of Unicode, especially when it comes to second-class languages.

WEIRD WIKIPEDIA:

List Of Animals With Fraudulent Diplomas
“Animals have been submitted as applicants to suspected diploma mills and, on occasion, admitted and granted a degree, as reported in news and magazines. Animals are often used as a device to clearly demonstrate the lax standards of awarding institutions. In one case, a cat’s degree helped lead to a successful fraud prosecution against the institution which issued it.”

H.P. LOVECRAFT STORY OF THE WEEK:

The Last Test
A rewrite of Adolphe de Castro’s story of the same name, The Last Test, is also the first introduction of the Outer God, Shub-Niggurath, “The Black Goat of the Woods with a Thousand Young”.

GIF OF THE WEEK:

Sass.