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Foundation [Mass Market Paperback]

Isaac Asimov
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (333 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Oct. 1 1991 Foundation Novels
For twelve thousand years the Galactic Empire has ruled supreme. Now it is dying. But only Hari Sheldon, creator of the revolutionary science of psychohistory, can see into the future--to a dark age of ignorance, barbarism, and warfare that will last thirty thousand years. To preserve knowledge and save mankind, Seldon gathers the best minds in the Empire--both scientists and scholars--and brings them to a bleak planet at the edge of the Galaxy to serve as a beacon of hope for a fututre generations. He calls his sanctuary the Foundation.

But soon the fledgling Foundation finds itself at the mercy of corrupt warlords rising in the wake of the receding Empire. Mankind's last best hope is faced with an agonizing choice: submit to the barbarians and be overrun--or fight them and be destroyed.

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Foundation marks the first of a series of tales set so far in the future that Earth is all but forgotten by humans who live throughout the galaxy. Yet all is not well with the Galactic Empire. Its vast size is crippling to it. In particular, the administrative planet, honeycombed and tunneled with offices and staff, is vulnerable to attack or breakdown. The only person willing to confront this imminent catastrophe is Hari Seldon, a psychohistorian and mathematician. Seldon can scientifically predict the future, and it doesn't look pretty: a new Dark Age is scheduled to send humanity into barbarism in 500 years. He concocts a scheme to save the knowledge of the race in an Encyclopedia Galactica. But this project will take generations to complete, and who will take up the torch after him? The first Foundation trilogy (Foundation, Foundation and Empire, Second Foundation) won a Hugo Award in 1965 for "Best All-Time Series." It's science fiction on the grand scale; one of the classics of the field. --Brooks Peck


'One of the most staggering achievements in modern SF' The Times --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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First Sentence
His name was Gaal Dornick and he was just a country boy who had never seen Trantor before. Read the first page
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Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Mass Market Paperback
By the end of the thirteenth millennium, mankind had populated millions of planets scattered throughout the galaxy. The centre of the imperial government was located on the planet Trantor, in effect a single planetary city some 75,000,000 square miles in extent. Every conceivable square foot of habitable space was occupied with a teeming population well in excess of 40 billion souls. Its internal problems were so vast that it was all but inevitable that its grip on the outer reaches of its dominion should weaken. The empire, like every other empire that had preceded it, was in the throes of decline.

Hari Seldon, a brilliant mathematician and psychologist developed the science of psychohistory - the use of mathematics and symbolic logic to evaluate and predict the future behaviour of statistically large segments of human population. When he applied his analysis to the Empire, the conclusions were bleak and inescapable. The stagnating Empire would imminently fall and collapse into a galactic dark age - a period of anarchy and chaos and a loss of art, culture, knowledge, technology and science that would last for thirty thousand years.

When he knew that imperial collapse was inevitable, he created the "Foundation" and implemented what was later to become known as the Seldon Plan. He couldn't stop the dark age but he could shorten its duration to a mere thousand years and give civilization the ability to start over again.

Asimov, known to his millions of fans merely as the "good doctor", certainly didn't stint when it came to the scope of his ideas and the size of the canvas on which he chose to paint. "Foundation" is a classic sci-fi novel that leans far towards the left side of the sci-fi spectrum.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A meditation on galactic empire Feb. 1 2002
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Foundation is not a novel, but a series of stories which had been published separately. The entire trilogy was written in nine stories which were completed in the period between 1941 and 1951. Asimov notes himself in the foreword that part of what he intended with the fourth book _Foundation's Edge_ was to have a chance to write an actual Foundation novel.
I actually like the effect that the story-based approach gives, particularly considering that Foundation is meant to be covering the fall of galactic empire and the rise of a new power. Having chapters based on discrete periods, I think the reader gets a better sense of the sheer time involved in politics than any 9000 -page space opera could ever achieve.
One of the things I like about Foundation and its subsequent other parts is that it isn't an action-packed adventure. There isn't high romance. It isn't really about individual heartache and success, although the role of the individual is important. It's a meditative look at both politics and the future, and a darned sharp one at that.
An excellent read, even worth the time for people who don't think that they like science fiction.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Foundation is Astounding! Dec 1 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This book is amazing science fiction novel. Asimov's straightforward and simple way of writing presents the reader with a concise and well formed novel. The plot is amazing with its many twists and turns, although the character development isn't very strong. However, the lack in character development comes from Asimov's style of writing in which he presents the reader with several major characters. The entire book revolves around foreshadowing of a point in history where knowledge will be lost and barbarians will rule over an ingorant civilization. In order to shroten the period of ignorance and barbarianism, Hari Seldon forms the Foundation, a group of scholars on a planet at the edge of the galaxy. Asimov uses foreshadwing to great effect throughout the entire novel to form the plot. Another device well used by asimov is symbolism. One example is the Foundation, which is used as a symbol for hope for the future. The symbols placed throughout the novel bring about a sense of profound revelation to the reader. Irony is also used very effectively in one instance. When the encyclopedists realize that all their work was all in vain, Asimov reveals the fragility of the human intellect. He explains how the composition of human knowledge is not in one single person, but is spread out throughout all of humanity, and cannot be contained within one book or one set of books.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Way to Start Your SF Education March 13 2004
Foundation owes its genesis to young Asimov reading Edward Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. As the author explains, he started thinking, what would happen if he described the fall of a GALACTIC Empire? Armed with a "science" of history known as psychohistory, Asimov and his editor John W. Campbell set about trying to describe the fall and rebirth of that mythic Empire. While the trilogy (and even the subsequent sequels) did not finish the 1,000-year cycle, enough was described to bring about some rather intriguing fiction.
Asimov, of course, is fond of puzzles involving logic. While logic is rather hazy regarding human behavior (the "Laws of Psychohistory" are deliberately kept off-stage), the characters are nevertheless able to make guesses that fall within the expectations of said logic.
The prime element in the resurrection of the Empire is, of course, Hari Seldon, the greatest psychohistorian in history. Seeing through his equations that the galaxy is about to fall into ruin, Seldon strives to create a "Foundation" which will preserve the wisdom of the old empire when the collapse comes. This Foundation will ensure that, instead of thousands of years of barbarism following the collapse, only 1,000 years will ensue. The Foundation begins harmlessly enough, as a scientific organization, designed to write the "Encyclopedia Galactica," a repository for all the galaxy's knowledge. However, as the Empire falls and the scientists of the Foundation are isolated by the barbarism on the galactic periphery (in a series of "Seldon Crises"), it becomes much more. That is the basic context of the first book in the series.
Seldon also creates a "Second Foundation.
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Most recent customer reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Boring Drivel
Completely disjointed narrative with a cast of thousands, no character development and a plot line that seems more at home in a novel about ancient history rather than a... Read more
Published 2 months ago by cleo
5.0 out of 5 stars A Masterpiece of SciFi
I don't want to give any spoilers so I will just say that this book and it's entire saga are full of amazing surprises. Read more
Published on Nov. 10 2011 by Sergio Juarez
5.0 out of 5 stars It Ages Well :-)
I first read "The Foundation Trilogy" back in high school and really enjoyed it. I recently reread the trilogy and still enjoyed Asimov's tale of galactic history. Read more
Published on April 17 2011 by Daffy Bibliophile
5.0 out of 5 stars Best book of conquest I ever read
It's not just territorial conquest... it's conquest over the world of physics, technology, psychology. Read more
Published on Jan. 9 2008 by S. Lemieux
1.0 out of 5 stars Waste of time;Stick to Robot novels.
This book is one of the most overrated books I have ever read. There is very little in the way of plot and character development. There is no climax in this book. Read more
Published on July 15 2004 by R. Riordan
5.0 out of 5 stars The "Foundation" series was mesmerizing!
But, then, how could it not be when its author was the incomparable Isaac Asimov? There are, of course, plenty of other noteworthy works by all manner of Old Masters as well as... Read more
Published on June 16 2004 by Eric
5.0 out of 5 stars Not just the greatest trilogy ever...
But Asimov is one of the greatest science-fiction authors to have every lived. His massive work adding itself to works by other such sci-fi masters: "Childhood's End",... Read more
Published on June 15 2004 by Christopher
4.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful sequel
Welcome to the second book in the Foundation trilogy (although Asimov did write further books, it was a trilogy originally). Read more
Published on May 15 2004 by Frikle
4.0 out of 5 stars A classic tale of civilizations
This is the first book in the famous Foundation trilogy. The story is simple. It's over 50,000 years in the future and humans have spread throughout the whole galaxy, with... Read more
Published on May 8 2004 by Frikle
4.0 out of 5 stars A psychohistorical futureworld inspired by Edward Gibbon
In a preface written in 1982 for a volume collecting the original "Foundation" trilogy, Asimov recalled the sources of inspiration for the series and boasted, "Why shouldn't I... Read more
Published on April 29 2004 by D. Cloyce Smith
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