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!,
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,
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.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Foundation is Astounding!,
5.0 out of 5 stars Best book of conquest I ever read,
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!,
5.0 out of 5 stars Not just the greatest trilogy ever...,
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,
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.
4.0 out of 5 stars A psychohistorical futureworld inspired by Edward Gibbon,
Edward Gibbon's influence is certainly obvious in "Foundation." A galactic empire, centered in Trantor (a celestial Rome), is on the verge of collapse. During the Dark Ages that follow, the surviving remnants at the extreme borders of the galaxy initially maintain control by creating a religion that hides scientific knowledge behind theological mysteries and by training a caste of priests to monopolize this learning. Asimov, however, goes beyond the period covered by Gibbon (who ended his masterwork with the age of the Crusades): when new and powerful rulers challenge the priestly authority, an upstart mercantile class--the Medicis and Borgias of the galactic future--gain the upper hand.
Yet "Foundation" is hardly a history lesson; Asimov simply channeled his understanding of medieval and Renaissance Europe into a series of intriguing stories, what might instead be described as "psychohistorical" and sociopolitical thrillers. In the opening chapter, during the dying days of the Empire, Hari Seldon studies "psychohistory"--a kind of societal (but not individual) determinism based loosely on the idea that broad historical trends are cyclical and predictable. Aware that he cannot prevent the fall of the Empire, Seldon uses his learning to chart a course for the preservation of knowledge and an accelerated re-creation of a Second Empire. (Asimov had no way of knowing, of course, that psychohistory would later become a legitimate field of academic research by such scholars as Peter Gay.)
Each of the five episodes in the book reads like a tautly played game of political chess in which the winner is inevitably the visionary who is not wedded to traditional moves and who is patient enough to wait for his opponent to make the first mistake. The suspense is developed almost exclusively from the "cold war" tension between rival forces: there's not much action in "Foundation," and (as other readers have noted), the lengthy dialogue is spotty and the "character development" is pretty much nonexistent (although the same could surely be said about such sci-fi classics as "2001" and "The Time Machine"). But if you like your science fiction a tad cerebral, you'll find much to admire in Asimov's first major work.
3.0 out of 5 stars A good story, but somewhat weak on characters,
This review is from: Foundation and Empire (Mass Market Paperback)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 these books is fundamentally good sci-fi story stuff, but the lack of character development makes you think while you're reading, "Why am I reading this?" I'll read the last in the trilogy ("Second Foundation"), but that's as far as I'm going to go with these.
For great sci-fi, read "Hyperion," "Fall of Hyperion," "Ender's Game," "Childhood's End", "2001: A Space Odyssey," "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep."
For good sci-fi, read "More Than Human," "The Gods Themselves," "Slan," "The Demolished Man," "The Stars My Destination."
TOO MUCH TO LIST, MY FRIENDS!!!
Good luck and good reading.
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Foundation and Empire by Isaac Asimov (Mass Market Paperback - Oct 1 1991)
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