Foundation: the short version
I’ve been reading Asimov’s original Foundation trilogy, and have almost finished it. (Yes, I can’t believe I haven’t read it before!) I love the fact that the novels are essentially a series of political dialogues, and all of the action happens completely offstage. Here’s my quick parody, written during a moment of boredom.
The two men faced each other quietly in the metallic room, each pensively smoking their rare cigars. Outside, hundreds of warships screamed in the dead of space, blowing each other to smithereens and ejecting boiling flesh into the void. The fate of all human civilization once again hung the balance.
“It appears yet another Crisis is upon us, as was predicted.”
“Yes, you *would* want me to think that, wouldn’t you?”
“Would I now? Are you sure?”
“Don’t play your mind games with me, I’ve already anticipated your latest move. Did you really think I was so gullible as to allow my ships to attack yours first?”
“Galaxy! Well apparently you just did.”
“You only *think* I did. You see, I’ve been leading you all along, making you think I would, but that’s only because you didn’t know that I already knew of your plan.”
“Precisely, which is exactly why you fell into my trap.”
“Indeed! I knew you wouldn’t actually go where I was hoping you would, and thus I coaxed you into doing exactly what I wanted all along. You’ve been my pawn from the beginning.”
“And that’s exactly what I KNEW you would say, because I WANTED you to think I was your pawn! That’s why I have 50 soldiers outside this door ready to kill you the moment I nod my head. You miscalculated my genius once again, thinking you were in control.”
“Ah, but YOU underestimated ME, don’t you see? This ENTIRE CONVERSATION has already been predicted by Seldon himself, and my top-secret troop of 300 has been sitting here for 20 years waiting for this exact moment, waiting to do nothing but surprise you. I’m afraid they’ve already destroyed your 50 soldiers outside the door and are now waiting to arrest you personally.”
“But isn’t that just too obvious? I knew you’d plan such a silly thing, from my earliest days in service. I made it my personal mission — 20 years ago — to make sure your secretive squad was destroyed before they were even established. Their entire existence has been a decades-long illusion performed only for your personal deception. I’m afraid you’re powerless.”
“Powerless, that is, to withhold the truth from you any more. Your entire LIFE among the Galactic Empire has been one gigantic simulation, something I just implanted via insidious mind probe. The truth is that you’re a lifetime resident of an insane asylum in Bloomsbury, New Jersey. Tea time is over and visitors are now going home. Goodbye, sir.”