5.0 out of 5 stars A meditation on galactic empire
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.
Published on Feb. 1 2002 by frumiousb
3.0 out of 5 stars A good story, but somewhat weak on characters
This may be a classic and I may be a science fiction fan, but read Asimov's "The Gods Themselves" instead of this. His later work is definitely better. "Foundation and Empire" is like its predecessor ("Foundation") in that you get several stories told in different periods throughout Foundation history. Everything Asimov has come up with in...
Published on April 29 2004 by Fry Boy
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4.0 out of 5 stars Psychohistory and the statistical prediction of mob behaviour!,
This review is from: Foundation (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. Hard sci-fi, technology and advanced science are touched upon only to the extent that they are necessary to make sense of an Empire that spans an entire galaxy. Quaintly, much of the science is seriously dated - data storage is on microfilm, atomic power is the norm even in spaceships that are expected to travel galactic distances - and could hardly be considered brilliantly prescient.
So it is clearly the ideas that Asimov deals with that have elevated "Foundation" to its status as one of the most loved and most read science fiction novels of all time - science as religion, the authoritarian nature of religious dogma, the insidious Machiavellian nature of political diplomacy, the inevitability of the decline and collapse of a major empire and a powerful discussion as to whether violence is a necessary tool to resolve differences or whether it is merely "the last refuge of the incompetent".
While I will happily acknowledge that "Foundation" was interesting and thoroughly enjoyable, I was somewhat disappointed to discover that it did not have the same thrill or excitement that I experienced when I first read it thirty years ago. The level of science in the book seems almost lack-lustre and in my mind did not live up to the grandiose scope of the novel. Like so many of his peers in the 1950s, women were stoutly ignored and played no part in "Foundation" at all.
Dickens wrote at the turn of the century so one expects his prose to be different. Asimov wrote "Foundation" in 1951 so one certainly expects it to be a product of that time. But, unlike Dickens (and I'm not really quite able to put my finger on the reason why), the prose simply didn't age quite as well. So, in the full knowledge that many will disagree with me, I'm unwilling to accord "Foundation" the 5-star rating that many will expect. Four stars only from this reader and a high recommendation that this book must be read if you claim to be a fan of the classic sci-fi genre.
5.0 out of 5 stars A meditation on galactic empire,
This review is from: Foundation (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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5.0 out of 5 stars Foundation is Astounding!,
This review is from: Foundation (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.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Way to Start Your SF Education,
This review is from: Foundation Trilogy (Hardcover)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." The purpose of this organization, located at "Star's End," is to monitor the Seldon plan and make sure the First Foundation comes to no harm in its slow quest to restore the Empire.
If some of this sounds vaguely like Star Wars, you wouldn't be far wrong. Much of that trilogy owes its existence to Asimov's work. The most blatant example is the planet Coruscant, which echoes Asimov's Trantor, the capital world of the Empire, which is an entire world-city.
My favorite book in the Foundation series is Foundation and Empire, because they offer the most opportunity for action and challenge for the Foundation. As the series originally appeared as a series of short stories and novellas in Campbell's Astounding, the "novel" is really two stories. In the first story, the Foundation finds itself facing its first real threat--a strong Empire at the galactic core, with a strong general capable of defeating the Foundation. In the next contest, the Foundation comes up against a telepathic enemy known as "The Mule," who starts mucking about with the Foundation's path toward eventual Empire.
The third book, Second Foundation, describes a search for the "Second Foundation." This search comes in earnest, after the setbacks the First Foundation faced in the second book. Asimov manages to end the stories well, and Asimov manages to keep the reader guessing.
I really enjoyed the series when I read it in high school. The stories were great exercises in logic and managed to provide some sense of adventure. Looking back, I can see some "primitive" technological aspects of Asimov's "Future History," but that takes little away from the story. One innovation for this series was the invention of the pocket calculator (the stories appeared in the early '40s). Asimov took reluctant credit for the invention since, like Heinlein's water bed, he never thought of patenting it.
This is actually an excellent, kid-friendly introduction to science fiction, as it presents a lot of mental puzzles and very little violence. Given the time it was written and Asimov's own literary tastes, it is rather free from violence, sex, or other "adult situations." There have been grander epics, but this is one of the first to appear in science fiction form. Read from the master, and learn.
5.0 out of 5 stars It Ages Well :-),
This review is from: The Foundation Trilogy (Paperback)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. It's a tale of the fall of an empire and of one man's attempt to minimize the barbaric interregnum. Hari Seldon is a different type of hero, especially for science fiction of the 1940s-1950s. Seldon is a mathematician who has applied mathematics to the science of human behaviour on a grand scale, thus he was able to predict the downfall of the galactic empire in which he lived and, although he was unable to prevent it, he could minimize the damage.
This trilogy has always been one of my treasured sci-fi classics and, even though at age fifty I see it a bit differently than at age fifteen, I can still highly recommend "Foundation", "Foundation and Empire" and "Second Foundation" to anyone who enjoys science fiction. It is truly a classic and also a fun read!
5.0 out of 5 stars Best book of conquest I ever read,
This review is from: Foundation (Mass Market Paperback)It's not just territorial conquest... it's conquest over the world of physics, technology, psychology.
I've read the whole Greater Foundation series (Robots, Empire, Foundation) and my favorite book of all is this one. But reading just this book would be like eating one cherry on a cake... better sit down and go through it all because, the whole series is better than Anything else I've seen/read/heard!
Long live the memory of Asimov!
5.0 out of 5 stars The "Foundation" series was mesmerizing!,
This review is from: Foundation (Mass Market Paperback)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 newer authors that, in my opinion, at least belong next to the "Foundation" series simply because they, too, are great sci-fi adventures and space opera: "Stranger in a Strange Land", "Puppet Masters", "2001", "2010", "Rendezvous with Rama", "Ringworld", all the "Star Trek" and "Star Wars" books, as well as books as new to the genre as "Advent of the Corps" and others. I mention them only to show that what great sci-fi authors like Isaac Asimov started decades ago still lives and breeds more and more fantastic works!
5.0 out of 5 stars Not just the greatest trilogy ever...,
This review is from: Foundation (Mass Market Paperback)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", "Rendezvous with Rama", "Stranger in a Strange Land" as well as the more modern cyberpunk works like "Neuromancer", "Mona Lisa Overdrive", "Snow Crash", "Prey", and "Cyber Hunter". All are must-reads for any hardcore science-fiction and cyberpunk collector.
4.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful sequel,
This review is from: Foundation and Empire (Mass Market Paperback)Welcome to the second book in the Foundation trilogy (although Asimov did write further books, it was a trilogy originally). The book picks up where Foundation left off - the Foundation has established itself as a formidable force in the Periphery of the Galaxy. Of course, everyone is too well aware that gaining control of the local warlords is small potatoes compared to what's to come. In Foundation and Empire, the inevitable comes.
As the previous novel, Asimov has divided this into books, however here there are only two. As a result, he gets to explore the characters at more length then in Foundation. But again, expect wonder, amazement and enjoyment at the themes, issues and grandeur of this book, not the characterisation and "literary" qualities.
In the first book, the conflict between the Foundation and what's left of the Empire develops. This however is a much bigger game - in the past, the warlords barely out-war-powered the Foundation, while here the Empire dwarfs it even in its twilight. As always, something must be done other than a brute force tactic. Furthermore, the "heroes" of the Foundation are no more, in the conflict there are no Mallows or Hardins to guide the political intrigue, so it is here that Seldon's plan is put to the ultimate test.
In the second book (not to give away too much), a new threat to the Plan arises. A man known only as the Mule comes to light. And for the first time, an individual drastically changes the course of history. Indeed, he consists of the biggest threat to the plan thus far. What's so special about him?.. Personally, I found this book the most enjoyable in the whole trilogy - it reminds me of the little cryptic "detective" plotting from other Asimov works I read, such as I Robot and Steel Caves. However, here, it's an almost perfect melodrama played out (and unlike many detective elements in novels includingthose of Asimov - this one doesn't seem contrived or make you feel at all "cheated"), as we follow some Foundationers in their quest to find out what the Mule is and how to deal with him.
This is a great continuation of the saga and will also bring out many interesting questions - like whether an individual can change the course of history. It will also shake up your conception of the Seldon plan - overall, a great book.
4.0 out of 5 stars A classic tale of civilizations,
This review is from: Foundation (Mass Market Paperback)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 millionsof worlds and quintillions of people united by an Empire. However, the empire is crumbling.
Enter Hari Seldon, the pioneer of psycho-history - a kind of complete, mathematical social science that uses statistical averages and modelling to predict social trends in large populations for thousands of years to come. Hari's studies show that the collapse of the empire is invevitable. However, if he takes action now, the period of suffering before the next empire might be decreased from 30,000 years to 1000. So, he establishes two foundations on opposite sides of the galaxy to follow his master plan. This book is the story of the first foundation.
As a work of literature, expect no marvels of prose or metaphor. Most of the chapters are dialogue between people. There is also little characterisation and a blatant disregard for the "show, don't tell" rule of writing. All of these things are there because the trilogy covers hundreds of years. As such, this novel is divided into 5 books with a gap of decades or centuries between each. The whole text is very episodic as we watch an entire civilisation emerge from a modest group of scientists to a powerful force in the outskirts of the galaxy.
So, the concepts of the book were what I found interesting. Of course, the whole premise that human history can be mathematically be mapped out as a kind of law of averages seems ridiculous to me. I don't think that Asimov believed that either - he just saw it as an interesting idea for a story. The great Hari Seldon maps out the future history of the Foundation, ensuring that it basically has one cosmic path to follow - one which will end in laying the seeds for the new Galactic Empire.
The first book details with around the first 200 years of the foundation, as several crises are encountered by individuals as forces of history. With few military resources, the leaders are forced to rely on their wit. I'm onto the second book now so should find out if that wit was enough.
A great read in that you'll find in interesting even if you aren't a great science fiction fan - it has very unique perspectives social "science" and what makes a civilization.
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Foundation by Isaac Asimov (Mass Market Paperback - Oct. 1 1991)
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