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In the second book of the Foundation trilogy, Foundation and Empire, written in 1953, the Mule appears, an amazing and intriguing character. Reading this book give me the sensation that George Lucas based his ideas of the Jedi and Sith orders around the influence of the Asimov tale.

Is there any evidence that Foundation series - especially the Mule - influenced Star Wars ideas of Jedi and Sith, given the multitude of acknowledged and unacknowledged-but-obvious influences that Lucas had?

UPDATE

Here's a fragment of the mule description:

One of the greatest conquerors the galaxy has ever seen, he is a mentalic who has the ability to reach into the minds of others and "adjust" their emotions, individually or en masse, using this capability to conscript individuals to his cause. Not direct mind-control per se, it is a subtle influence of the subconscious; individuals under the Mule's influence behave otherwise normally - logic, memories, and personality intact."

Can explain for example, one the Jedi/Sith main talents... and so on.

  • Sorry, but questions that call for speculation are off-topic here. We only accept questions that have verifiable correct answers. – Mike Scott Nov 16 '12 at 14:24
  • @MikeScott - I edited this to a (hopefully) more digestible SFF friendly form. – DVK-on-Ahch-To Nov 16 '12 at 14:24
  • @wandarkaf - you said "Reading this book give me the sensation that George Lucas based his ideas of the Jedi and Sith orders around the influence of the Asimov tale". You need to provide some details of WHY you have that sensation, meaning specific examples of similarities of details/ideas from Star Wars and Foundation. Otherwise your question makes little sense. – DVK-on-Ahch-To Nov 16 '12 at 14:26
  • thanks for the reformulation of the question @DVK – wandarkaf Nov 16 '12 at 14:29
  • Well, some influences appear: Trantor is (admittedly, but I can't find a good reference right now) clearly inspired by Trantor. Don't know for sure about the Mule, though. – Wilerson Nov 16 '12 at 15:05

10 Answers 10

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The only absolutely verifiable one that I'm aware of is Trantor/Coruscant: Trantor - Inspired by Trantor, Wikipedia

  • 2
    How is this verifiable? Science-fiction, and its tropes, will/did reach a point where 'city planets' seem an obvious go-to based on scale and story. Lucas has his faults; but with the scale of his story, he would have been led to some of the same ideas Asimov did. Criticize the 'light-saber' invention more. – Solemnity Dec 25 '12 at 10:45
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According to Isaac Asimov: Yes

Asimov did indeed believe that Star Wars was influenced by Foundation, and has said so several times; in an introduction in 1983:

I modeled my “Galactic Empire” (a phrase I think I was the first to use) quite consciously on the Roman Empire. Ever since then, other science fiction writers have been following the fashion, and have written series of their own after the fashion of the Foundation series. In fact, in the late 1970s the Galactic Empire reached the movies in the enormously popular Star Wars, which, here and there, offered rather more than a whiff of the Foundation. (No, I don’t mind. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and I certainly imitated Edward Gibbon, so I can scarcely object if someone imitates me.)
Empires (1983), collected in The Tyrannosaurus Prescription (1989)

in his last autobiography:

I borrowed freely from Edward Gibbon's History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire in planning the Foundation series, and I believe that the motion picture Star Wars did not hesitate, in turn, to borrow from the Foundation series.
I. Asimov: A Memoir (1994)

and in a talkshow:

As a matter of fact, if you see these pictures, Star Wars and its sequels, there's a certain amount of stuff that came from my Foundation books. But what the heck, a certain amount of my Foundation books came from Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. So how far back do you want to go? That's the way things work.
Isaac Asimov on Dick Cavett (1989)

  • I had no idea that Asimov was so cool with it. – n_b Feb 20 '18 at 0:30
  • I got the impression that Asimov took a lot of science fiction concepts that had already been around and used them to create a Universe he liked. – David Thornley Oct 25 '18 at 16:25
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I noticed many common things as well. For example, the couple of robots discussing like in Robots and the Empire, human-like Daneel and robot-like Giskard. Brings to mind C-3PO and R2-D2, doesn't it? Big Galactic Empire was first invented by Asimov, wasn't it? The Force, mental talent which can be trained with hard work, and Asimovs mental talent, based on human nature but hidden. I'm maybe searching, but I see similarity.

I did not consider Mule actually, that was a clever point, because at his own appreciated and rightful community he felt discriminated and escaped and wanted to rule the world with his own way, becoming a villain. And again his plans went wrong when he liked this Darell person, a bit of good came out from a villain. Still Asimov did not have so clear good/evil-assembly as it is in Star Wars, Jedi/Sith and so on. And I get totally different feeling when I see, hear or read from a Jedi than when reading about Hari Seldon or earlier main characters, but still the theme is righteousness/minded justice. And instinct, a very big deal in both works.

And of course there is similarities between Han Pritcher/Han Solo, Trantor/Coruscant, Galactic Empire/Galactic Empire, credits as exchange/credits as exchang and technology stuff. Sorry for speculation, I think this is a very interesting target.

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Though different, I have found some "traces" in Star Wars that somehow resemble Asimov's Foundation saga. I will try to resume those similarities in the following points:

  1. The Mankind is spread over the entire Galaxy (The Milky Way?)
  2. There's a Galactic Empire with a bureaucratic capital world (Trantor / Coruscant)
  3. There are outer provinces whose inhabitants are mainly smugglers and scavengers.
  4. Ships jumps into hyperspace for shortening traveling time.
  5. The Republic (Star Wars) resembles The Scientist Community in Terminus.
  6. Both Hober Mallow (Foundation) and Han Solo (Star Wars) are smugglers that become agents and fighters for their respective worlds.
  7. Princess Leia resembles Bayta Darell. While Leia battled against Darth Vader, Bayta battled against the Mule.
  8. The inhabitants of the Second Foundation have enormous mental power and their minds can control people and objects. In the Universe of Star Wars this power is called The Force.
  9. Darth Vader could be Han Pritcher. Why? Darth Vader (Pritcher) is controlled by Darth Sidious (the Mule). Both Vader and Pritcher were assimilated by the Dark Side.
  10. Yoda (Star Wars) is Preem Palver (Second Foundation's First Speaker).
  • Well done. At least the 'core' parts were most likely inspired by Foundation. galactic empire, credits, hyperspace, capital planet. But same things are in Star Trek. For all we know, Lucas was inspired by star trek, who got it from Foundation. – Dan Shaffer Mar 28 '16 at 12:37
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I am re-reading the Foundation trilogy at the same time as my kid trailing through the Star Wars, well, trilogy, and I am aware of many small overlapping details, such as "traders", "mental probe", "jump into hyperspace" and so forth. Even Han Solo's outfit is reminiscent of the "short coat of a soft,leathery plastic", not to mention the rough looks and faux-pecuniary manner, of trader Lathan Devers in Foundation and Empire. Given Asimov wrote these books between 1941-53, I can imagine their incredible imagery as having understandably pervaded Lucas's imagination at an impressionable age.

  • I was thinking that Hober Mallow could have been another Solo inspiration. Darn... now I have to go re-read the trilogy. It's been a while, but remains one of my all time favorites. – tj1000 Jan 28 '18 at 9:03
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For example Second Foundation's initial plot:

Han (Pritcher, not Solo) and Bail (Channis, please) chasing after a bunch of mysterious, possibly nonexistent mental masters (the second foundationers, of course, not talking about Jedi or Sith) in the service of a deformed, rather wicked, would-be empire-builder with his own singular mental powers (the Mule - or maybe Palpatine or Darth Vader).

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Asimov called guns "blasters" in Foundation and Star Wars followed suit. The Foundation was set up on the "outer rim of the galaxy" and Luke's home planet of Tatooine is also in "the outer rim". Luke even says something to the effect of a bright, center of the galaxy (Tractor/Coruscant) and that they are the farthest planet from.

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It should be noted that Foundation and Star Wars both have characters named "Bail": Second Foundation's Bail Channis and Bail Organa ( not to mention Antilles ) in the Star Wars universe.

( The two Hans have already been cited. )

0

One thing I found similar is that both Millennium Falcon and the ship of Dever (the trader who was sent by the foundation to investigate the Empire)

  1. They are both claimed to be able to "outrun any Empire's ship".
  2. After Han Solo/Dever managed to escape, they both shot down several pursuing Empire ships and escaped through hyperspace.
  3. Both have cabin for smuggling.
  4. Han Solo and Dever are both really proud of their ships.
  5. Both ships have deflector shields.

Think of it, the notion of "trader" is kind of like the notion of "smuggler" in Star Wars.

0

Some random thoughts after seeing the Last Jedi and re-reading the Foundation Trilogy. I think the mule is somewhat similar to both Palpatine (who secluded himself in his high tower in the prologue to the Original Star Wars novelization) and the physically deformed telepathic Snoke in the Last Jedi (the mule being described as sticklike in his limbs and 120 lbs stretched out over a five foot eight frame). I actually envision the mule as Snoke (who also reminds me of the god in the Star Trek episode who mourns for Adonis, if memory serves), and if I imagine Rian Johnson and or JJ Abrams being inspired by Asimov, and/or Star Trek, then I can at least appreciate how they may have created Snoke's character, even if it was ultimately wasted and undeveloped. The other influence I see Asimov as having on the Last Jedi was the concept of the Hyper-Relay in the second Foundation book, a device that allows a ship to be tracked through hyperspace. Again, I can at least appreciate the influence Asimov had on Johnson, even if Johnson's end result left something to be desired. Kind of like how Lucas so obviously ripped off the giant iguanas from Flash Gordon serial one and used them as Obi-Wan's giant iguana creature in Episode III. Unlike the OT, I don't think either Lucas or Johnson did much to improve upon the original concept in either case, but at least there is a pulpy precedent in each of their questionable plot devices.

  • Do you have any evidence for your claims to influence or are they just possible connections you've made? – Edlothiad Jan 28 '18 at 8:05

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