Stars End S2E10


“Under the Genetic Dynasty, There is Only Room for One Podcast”

Haven’t watched Episode 10, “The Leap” yet? We’ll be here when you’re done.

Astoundingly, here we are at the end of Foundation’s Season 1. We’re all about to experience the teevee equivalent of empty nest syndrome.

But not yet! There are two more episodes of Stars End for this season! There’s this one, where we talk about Episode 10 and then there will be one more in about two weeks where we give an overview of Foundation’s epic first season! Also a special guest! Also, also some surprises!

And we’re here for the duration! It might feel like it will be 30,000 years until there will be new content on Apple TV+ but we’ll be here through this new interregnum to make sure that it feels like far less than 1000 years!

You’ve come with us this far! Let’s keep moving forward together!

Stars End S2E09

Stars End S2E09 – Sometimes Podcasts Shout Louder Than Logic.

You know. Spoilers and all that.

In 1987 the Smiths released an excellent compilation album entitled “Louder than Bombs.” It’s the apotheosis of mope rock! In 2021 “Is it Really So Strange” that we would release a podcast episode called “Louder than Logic?” Even if none of us is named “Smith?” We’re nothing but a bunch of alliterates!

But here’s the thing: it fits.

Gaal can feel the future in a way that might undermine psychohistory! That’s Louder than Mathematics!

Lewis was able to wish the Invictus back to Terminus! That’s Louder than Science!

And Salvor always knows how that coin will land! That’s Louder than Random!

Have you ever tried to replace a colorblind, left-handed clone with a perfect replica of Cleon I? That’s Louder than Reason!

You should join us as we talk about this barnburner of an episode directed by the great Roxann Dawson!

I mean it! “Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want!” Join us!

Stars End S2E08

Stars End S2E08 – “Your Lack of Understanding Does Not Obligate Us to Podcast”

If you’re a Lee Pace fan, or “stan” as the kids say, or even an “aficionado” like they said back in my day, “The Missing Piece” may be for you!  It’s like the last temptation of Brother Day meets Dune with 100% fewer sandworms.  That is to say, it’s a lot of loincloths and wandering around in the desert. Damn sand gets in everything!

Plus Hari’s still incorporeal, Gaal indulges in some casual vandalism, Salvor and Phara go on a trip, and Ethel the Aardvark goes quantity surveying.

As usual, we talk about it.

This week we’re joined by Rich Greenberg, a screenwriter and old friend of Jon’s.  Rich is known for Zoe (2018), starring Ewan McGregor, Léa Seydoux, and Rashida Jones, as well as the Emmy Award-Winning The Beauty Inside (2018).  Rich will tell us about the process of adapting an intellectual property, particularly a science fiction IP for television.

Join us!  

Stars End S2E07

Stars End S2E07 – An Exhortation from one of the Galaxy’s Major Podcasts

It’s Halloween evening as I write this and the two biggest Sci-Fi franchises have new episodes out.  The premiere of Star Trek Prodigy was last Thursday and the season opener for Doctor Who was this evening.  

But I have another venerable old franchise on my mind.

Namely Twilight Zone.  “Hey, kids!  You want to see something really scary?!?”

Well, “scary” probably isn’t the right word for “Mysteries and Martyrs” but I think some of us found it a little unsettling.

Still, there are lots of big questions!  Is Psychohistory as we know it a thing of the past?  What is the Anacreoneans horrific plan for the Invictus? Has the show succumbed to the Great and Glorious Az’s predilection for exposition?  And in the show with the most per-capita executions might someone get put to death for erroneous thumb-clasping?

We don’t know!  But we’re going to talk about it anyway!  With extra special guest star Cathy Bloomenfeld, who has the distinction of escaping that Asimovian indoctrination so many of us suffered as teens.

Join us!  You’ll love it!  It will be like losing yourself in the scar and seeing real clouds!

Stars End S2E06

Stars End S2E06 – An Entire Galaxy Pivoting Around the Actions of an Individual Podcast

There are a lot of things happening in Episode 6, “Death and the Maiden.”

Beware! The spoilers are probably even more densely packed than usual.  “The spoiler-space may even be compact,” he said mathematically.

What a difference a week makes!  We described Episode 5 as a “bridge” episode. In episode 6, there’s stuff going on right and left!  Actually, maybe even in 2, 3, or, 4 dimensions!  This cries out for an “Age of Aquarius” joke, but I don’t have one.  Any help?

Politics!  Religion!  Explosions!  Big themes! Hints about how everything fits together!  This one has it all!

And we have Morgan, as our latest very special guest! She’s a self-described Daneel Olivaw stan and biotechnologist who loves all things Asimov and tweets Foundation-related stuff as @AsimovPosting. She joined us and brought a fresh new voice to the conversation!

You should join us and join the conversation too! You’ll be glad you did!

Watching Foundation: “Barbarians at the Gate”

You know how this works. Joseph’s Random thoughts about Episode 4. Simultaneously published at

Watching Foundation – S1E04

Getting caught up on these, still: Spoiler Alert! You know what to do!

That’s a crazy opening! C14 tries to commit suicide. I guess it didn’t take long for the mental health of the Cleon’s to become an issue. Maybe they should have let C11 live a bit longer and tried again.

Personal Shields Can Come in Handy.

He doesn’t die, but the young lady gardening runs away from him.

Funeral. For whom? “Faith is a sword forged in the fires of the infinite.” These ladies remind me of the Sisterhood of Karn from Doctor Who.

This is an odd sequence. It looks like some things are launched from the funeral which impact on a gas giant, making it all wibbley wobbly. The funeral must be taking place on one of the moons. Shift to Demerzel watching remotely.

Sexy time for C13. The Cs have a Kinetic field. Maybe Junior didn’t try to commit suicide after all. But he sure scared the crap out of that girl.

Demerzel interrupts sexy time. Brother Day is needed.

“Proxima Opal has passed.” That must be who the funeral was for. There is debate about her successor in the Conclave. It’s basically the political version of technobabble but the Cs aren’t happy about a possible candidate. Something about “Primary Octavo.” Unsurprisingly there’s a religious dimension to the Cs claim to rule.

“Luminism” must be a religion. Primary Octavo states that only individual beings have souls, excluding the Cs. No souls for you! Why not counter with the Cleons having a single soul? That makes the dynastic succession that much stronger. None the less it threatens their rule.

Back to Salvor and the Anacreonians.

The Anacreonians claim they want a navigation module. Salvor finally shows some indication of being smart. But “If you were going to kill me, you’d have done it already” reminds me of a bunch of things, not the least of which is Clara in “Deep Breath” (Doctor Who), which was a lot better.

Salvor and Phara go through the gate. “If she isn’t back within a watch, we’ll raze your city to the ground,” which wouldn’t take that much.

The Anacreonians are acting like terrorists.

Salvor sees the boy, but Phara does not.

Using the Vault to incapacitate Phara was smart.

“The stories about Salvor Hardin? They usually begin here. The warden and the ghost.”

We get a Direct refutation of old Hardin. Abbas says “Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent.” Salvor calls it “an old man’s doctrine.”

Questions about the plan.

Abbas: “If you were better at math, you’d know that repeated luck was more than just luck, Salvor.” Maybe. Except that random events can cluster in a way that seems non-random to our brains.

Back to Trantor. We meet Shadowmaster Olbrecht. C14 wants the name of the girl in the garden. Was he trying to manufacture a meet-cute with a faux suicide attempt?

Salvor is channeling Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are dead with the coins. Does she have some kind of mental powers?

Neutron bombs. 50% of the population on Anacreon died off within a week, 20-30% in the remaining year. But the use of neutron bombs changes a lot of assumptions; most of the infrastructure should be intact.

Salvor seems to intuit things about Phara. She wants to die. She wants everyone to die. Larken Keaen was the greatest hunter of Anacreon, so Phara must be the Grand Huntress of Anacreon.

Hologram Hari? Finally! But no, not that one.

The Outer Kingdoms are starting to fray away from the Empire. “Seldon all but gave you a to-do list and you ignored him!”

It’s even clearer that the “middle throne” is the actual emperor. I can’t believe these guys are a Kiwanis Club. President-Elect, President, and Immediate Past President.

Arguments about the plan. “I may be an outlier, Lewis, but I’m not the one screwing up the plan!” Lol, even though I’m feeling a bit sorry for Lewis.

Kubbra Sait is excellent. Real gravitas. “A weapon is only as good as the man who’s wielding it.” The music is briefly reminiscent of a motif in Doctor Who.

Trantor again. Gardener girl is Akuta Something? C14 is being a dick to her even as she’s being kind.

“If you’re not dead within the hour, have a kilogram of these sent to my quarters.”

Salvor has a vision of Seldon’s library. There’s THAT kid with THE knife. We’ve been seeing images of Raych.

Then they tell us what they’ve already shown in case we didn’t understand it.

Churchill from Doctor Who is a statistician. Thousands working. No results after 30 years? Claims the predictive models of Seldon are “counter factual.” Brother Day is having none of it. Lee Pace is fantastic here as he yells a statistician to death. Probably.

The philosophical divide seems to be couched as “Free will” vs. “predestination” rather than “Great Man” vs. “Bottom Up.” Although maybe that’s the same thing.

C13 gives 12 a rash of crap for his actions in episode 1. An almost complete repudiation. The discomfort Brother Dawn felt with the executions comes home to roost. “I will save our legacy.” Demerzel reinforces C13. “Certainly now the empire will no longer be rent by impulsive action.” He probably doesn’t get the sarcasm.

We see Dorwin. He’s sent to investigate the communications buoy and told to pay a visit to the Foundation. “The Empire will not be kept in the Dark.” Wowd Dowwin doesn’t sownd wight thow.

Meanwhile C14 is spying on Akuta using a drone that looks like a dragonfly. Creepy, but she doesn’t seem to mind.

Phara makes an argument that they really want the navigation module. To relocate from Anacreon. “You can’t negotiate with someone who’s willing to set the board on fire.”

Salvor thinks there’s a bigger picture that she’s missing. Reassessing is a sign of smart. She puts it together that the Vault is connected to Hari.

The Anacreonians are preparing to raze the city such as it is. Like a strong wind couldn’t do that.

“And the beginning of the end, as befitting its name, took place on Terminus.”

And in a Marvelesque precredits scene, a ship approaches Gaal Dornik’s escape pod.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

All Images from Foundation on Apple TV+

Stars End S2E05

Stars End S2E5 – The Seers Condemned this Podcast

If you’d rather not be rudely awakened by some spoilers, you know what to do! We’ll be here when you’re ready.

And speaking of rude awakenings, how about that Gaal Dornick? That whole ordeal didn’t seem pleasant at all!

What isn’t rude is our conversation this week, about Foundation’s Episode 5, “Upon Awakening,” it’s better than being roused by a thunderstorm, a smoke alarm, or a cat licking your face.

And this will really shake you out of your slumber! We’ve got a very special episode for you because we’ve been joined by a very special guest, Joel McKinnon host of the very excellent Seldon Crisis Podcast! Joel’s a very interesting guy with a very interesting podcast and some very interesting other irons in the fire.

If you’d prefer to listen to Seldon Crisis another way, it’s also available on the You Tube.

Also Joel is in a band! The Jupiter Sheep! You can learn more about them and listen to their music here!And

Also also Joel has written a rock opera called Planet and Sky, which was performed by the Max Wyvern Band and expanded into yet another podcast!

And you can discover the rest by following Joel on Twitter @JoelGMcKinnon.

You should check these things out.

But not right now! Right now it’s time for the also excellent StarsEnd Podcast! Let’s go!

Stars End S2E04

William Shatner is about to be shot into space! He may want to stay there when he sees how Lee Pace updates the “Kirk can break a computer just by talking to it” shtick.

Spoilers, of course. If you haven’t, go watch the episode. Or listen first, it’s entirely up to you.

Things are really starting to cook now and we’ll have our usual free-wheeling conversation! The Cleons are being asynchronous and there are indeed “Barbarians at the Gate.” Well, they’re Acacreonians and the gate is almost entirely un-gatelike… except that you have to pass through it to go from “out” to “in.” But it’s an exciting episode with some excellent performances! We talk. You should tune in; it’ll be fun!

And for crying out loud, don’t stay in the bath too long; you’ll get all pruney.

“And the beginning of the end, as befitting its name, took place on Terminus.”

Watching Foundation: “The Mathematician’s Ghost”

Watching Foundation – S1E03

Spoiler Alert! There may be plot complications!

You know how this works. Joseph’s Random thoughts about Episode 3, no post podcast revelations this time. Simultaneously published at

Cleon 1 with Demerzel 400 years previous. He’s dying and wistful, annoyed that although they’ve started the clone dynasty his ego will not persist. Your continuity is assured Dermerzel tells him. It looks like she gets to hold things together while Cleon 2 grows up.

19 years after the StarBridge bombing. The timing is interesting given that we’re just off the 20th anniversary of 9/11. Are we now looking at an analog of contemporary politics?

Sounds like it is Dusk’s final Day, foreshadowed by Cleon I’s flashback.

“The world is starting to see me at a distance” is a nice turn of phrase.

What is “ascension” exactly?

We parallel the passing of the torch metaphor with the tailor somewhat obviously.

Dusk is still questioning what happened with Anacreon and Thespis and pondering if he has anything left to say. “About anything. About whether any of this is truly within our power to control” juxtaposed against an image of Dusk casually swiping through holograms of planets.

They’re still thinking about Seldon though. Dusk is interested in preserving the “last remnants” of C1’s dream. Boy. This is maudlin.

Dusk is C11, “the Painter” on the pedestal where his bust will go.

The final gift is a visit to the remnant of the StarBridge. The three wax nostalgic about C1 and Dawn claims “we will build something greater in his honor. For you.”

Demerzel looks stricken and weepy. They destroy the final remnant of the StarBridge as they leave. Dusk nods his assent but it’s thematically opposed to what he wants. All that debris entering the atmosphere is going to look spectacular though.

It’s not clear; is that glowing thing a permanent memorial?

Jump Ball?

Dusk visits the gestation chamber, “Even if Seldon wasn’t right there is something unnatural in that.” Then he paints a final piece of the mural. Is it Dawn and Day raising a newly ascendent Trantor?

Demerzel: “You are enough. It’s just that you always leave me.”

“You have grown into our greatness, Brother Dawn, now Day.” “Brother Darkness.” Holy crap. He senses something is wrong with the baby as Demerzel pushes him toward the light.

If it wasn’t obvious already, “ascension” is a euphemism for a ritualistic suicide.

This half of the episode is filled with imagery of Demerzel as a driving force, including carrying 11 to his final rest and transferring his ashes to the baby.

17 years later, Day has the Mural erased. Demerzel looks on but can’t stop it. There’s a real thread here about repudiating the past.

“We ignore the dead at our peril.”

Cut to the colonists arriving on Terminus. The Vault is already there. Young Salvor spends a lot of time staring at it. Evidently, they don’t have Apple TV+ on Terminus. They barely have walls. Lots of hints that Salvor is wise. “She’s aware.” Show, don’t tell.

There’s got to be a better way to test the field around the Vault than to torture a bird.

Warden again. Versus mayor? I don’t like it.

Something is up with the field. And we see Granite Hari foreshadowing Hologram Hari.

The Encyclopedists’ conversations are odd. There’s little point in writing about base 10 and not base 12 and there’s little point in writing about the sundial as opposed to the water clock. I assume that they’re planning for the fall of civilization rather than writing the encyclopedia at this point, but isn’t the point of the encyclopedia to WikiHow all this stuff so everybody after the fall has that information?

See? Smug.

And why does Louis Pirenne look so damn smug here?

Also, this whole thing is dumb. Where will the survivors be? Freaking everywhere! What if the survivors are on a planet with no water? What if the planet circles more than one sun? That way lies madness. If the survivors are thrown back into complete barbarism they’re not going to have libraries anyway! And probably they’ll just be thrown back to the point where they think digital watches are a pretty neat idea.

And you CAN preserve every innovation because you’re writing a damn book! You have hundreds of years!

The field is expanding. Now with nose bleeds!

But Salvor is special in case you missed episode 1.

Hugo is supposed to be pretty likable, and either gives beer to children or tricks them into unloading his ship.

A sky full of spilled coins is a lovely image. But they’re using a telescope to look into space during the day. Tell me how that works or I’m going to assume that you screwed up the lighting.

There’s a kid and he’s running with a knife. That can’t be good. Teach your children not to run with scissors before you worry about water clocks.

Also, that looks like the knife that Rayce used to “kill” Hari. Significant? Maybe?

Hologram Hari appears in the Vault, No, not that one.

Anacreonian ships are appearing. And that thing seems more or less like an ordinary telescope. How does it work?

“Grow up Lewis!” Lol. Like in the books, he has more faith in the Empire than is warranted.

Jon’s observation: Salvor wants to know how much violence the colony can muster. In the book, Salvor is famous for “Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent.”

Jacunta pulls out the prime radiant and shows it to Salvor. Like maybe she can understand it with absolutely no training. MATH ISN’T MAGIC! And having an individual as part of the plan undermines the idea of psychohistory or convinces me that this character they want to present as smart isn’t.

For a person who’s supposed to be famously quotable, “Different is not the same as special” is a bit of a sophomore slump.

“The Empire feared Hari because he could forecast the future. But in reality, all he was doing was examining the past.” No.

There’s that kid with the knife again. How is he connected to Maybel?

Also, “Vulcan” is better than “Vulcanian” but I prefer “Anacreonian” to “Anacreon.”

“The ghosts of the dead… surround us. And they are hungry for what’s ours.”

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

All Images from Foundation on Apple TV+ or Astounding Science Fiction.

Stars End S2E03

Stars End S2E03 – Respect and Enjoy the Podcast

Spoilers, of course. Go watch the episode. We’ll be here when you get back.

We’re settling into the weekly groove! In this episode we’ll be talking about “the Mathematician’s Ghost,” episode 3 of Foundation. But don’t worry! No mathematicians were harmed in the filming of this episode… for a change.

But we do get some insight into the genetic trinity that rules the Empire, watch as the Foundationeers arrive on Terminus, and thrill to a cliffhanger! The Anacreonians have landed on Terminus, once again but for the first time!

And we think some more about episode 2. Maybe we’ve figured it out. Maybe not. Not knowing is half the fun!

We talk about it all! Join us! It will be so much fun the Empire may collapse! You wouldn’t want to miss that!