I read Foundation (by Isaac Asimov) a while ago, just after I finished the Prelude to Foundation (of the same author). Today I have come about the notion that he, in either of the books, made a reference to Clarke's Third Law:

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

Or at least said something of the same nature. Can anybody confirm this or am I just wrong?

  • I don't remember it in those books, but he references it in an essay in the back of Magic, which I returned to the library today....I don't recall if he referred to it in his stories in that volume, but he certainly had a sorcerer use gas masks and other futuristic inventions in the fantasy stories in that collection. I hope you find what you're looking for! – Shokhet Mar 12 '15 at 3:48

I don't recall the refernce to Clarke's Third Law explicitly, but he actually used the substance of it.

From http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/MagicFromTechnology:

... the Anacreonian civilisation is basically taken over by Salvor Hardin's new religion of science.

Interestingly, this wasn't the original intention of the Foundation citizens (though it was of course part of Seldon's 1,000 year plan). They simply created the religion as the most convenient way to spread atomic technology to the Four Kingdoms who have regressed into barbarism (The Galactic Spirit Did It). It's only later that they realized that they now hold power over the people of these kingdoms, if not the rulers.

In addition, a book in Foundation sequel series - but NOT Asimov's book - used the reverse of the Law's wording:

Any technology that does not appear magical is insufficiently advanced. Gregory Benford, in Foundation's Fear (1997)

  • Well unless anybody else can tell us wrong, I guess I probably just read the quote somewhere and thought it was Asimov's haha. – Severo Raz Feb 27 '13 at 21:34
  • If it helps with @DVK's answer (I didn't want to copy the rest of his to create my own), I Ctrl-F'd through both ebooks and this page contains the closest reference that uses the word 'magic' in either book that he asked about. – Solemnity Feb 28 '13 at 2:15

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