This is a series of short stories starting off a novels series that comprises seven novels by Isaac Asimov and then three additional novels by David Brin. The stories take place in a “long empire” that has lasted some 10,000 plaus years but seems to be dying now. The first story, which was written last, discusses the ways in which the empire itself has sought to silence any analytic mention of the entropy of the empire itself and we watch as an academic who has found a mathematical predictive model for the empire’s collapse is put on trial. It goes from there to discuss other elements from within the empire’s history and culture.
I found the novel to be both interesting in concept and in the originary sense of how it clearly is one of the first science fiction books to spawn the fake future history of regimes like this. It’s obviously rooted in especially Roman history, whose longevity allowed for histories to be written several hundred years apart while the empire still stood, and as a kind of analysis of current and would-be future empires on Earth.
The other science fiction writers and novels that come to mind from this one include the Dune books by Frank Herbert, Michael Moorcock’s Elric books, the Hainish books of Ursula Le Guin, and the Culture books of Iain M Banks. And even the recent Imperial Radch books by Anne Leckie borrow heavily. All that aside, I don’t think I particularly enjoyed reading this one.