It was a bit weird, I'll admit that, but I was young then...
Back, in the days before these days, in a place before this place, my father and I were talking. He spoke of Asimov's Foundation Trilogy (for there were only three books in the series back then - told you it was a while ago.) I suspect now that Dad had read of the republishing of the series, which is why it sprang to his mind. He'd read them when they were first published.
I was fascinated by what he told me of the books, of how Asimov had, seemingly, mapped out an enormous sweep of time and written stories set at different points along the timeline. But these three, in my Dad's opinion, stood far above the others.
I took myself off into the city, seeking out the series. Sure enough, in the vibrant Science Fiction section of one of the main bookstores, I found "Second Foundation". Imagine my dismay when I discovered, prior to buying, this this was the third in the series. The other volumes were sold out.
Even then I was an "instant gratification" kind of guy. So I bought it. And read it.
A week later I bought "Foundation and Empire". And read it.
Finally, "Foundation" - bought and read.
It was a fascinating way to read the trilogy. The third book spent the early part dealing with The Mule, this mutant who had come out of nowhere to upset the Seldon Plan. Yet I had to imagine how bad this was, and how bad things had become, because I hadn't seen that part of the story yet.
In the second book a character rages against a "dead hand" controlling events. I, as the reader - the out-of-order reader, had the same feeling. An almost mythological being, Hari Seldon, seemed in charge of the overall direction of events - and nothing the actors on the stage could do would change this. And then there appeared The Mule, and all the concern at the beginning of the third book fell into place.
Finally I "met" Hari Seldon in the first book. It felt strange to see the man after seeing the impact he'd had on events so far in his future. Such a towering force contained within the frame of a man. It was interesting to hear him speak for himself, rather than his being "intoned" by acolytes hundreds of years after his death.
I've since read the trilogy a number of times. All the "correct" way - "Start at the very beginning..."
But I've never lost the feeling the first reading gave me. The having to figure things out, to attempt to create what had gone before, the history, as the characters knew it. They weren't there when it happened either, they just knew what they'd been told.
It was a great adventure to try discover the world in which they lived, and how it got that way.
It's a feeling that's never left me.
I'd love to write a story that way. Backwards. It's been done - the movie Memento does it well.
My main problem with trying to write a story that way is...how I usually write stories. I tend to start at the beginning, and write till I reach the end - being surprised (if I'm lucky) a few times along the way by the twists and turns the story and the characters take.
To begin at the end, and have the story flow backwards...would that mean I'd have to know everything up front?