Foundation (Foundation, #1)

By Isaac Asimov

Rating: 5 stars

This is the first time that I’ve come back to Foundation in over a decade and it was with some trepidation. I needn’t have worried – it was every bit as good as I remember. I love old-fashioned Golden Age SF and this is practically the epitome of that.

A Foundation is established on the periphery of the galaxy to preserve knowledge and shorten the coming dark age caused by the collapse of the Galactic Empire to a mere thousand years. The course of this millennium is mapped out by Hari Seldon with the science of psychohistory, the large-scale statistical analysis of human behaviour. This is the story of the Foundation from its formation and it’s first century or two into the Seldon Plan.

It’s partially the scale of this story that I love – the idea that one man planned out something on a planetary scale to last a thousand years. That’s up there with Diaspar and the Monoliths in terms of scale. Of course, it probably helped that I first read Foundation at an impressionable age, and the impressions that I formed then have stayed with me ever since then.

The episodic nature of the novel makes its origin as a series of short stories, originally published in Astounding, pretty clear. Only two of the stories share a protagonist (the first having him as a young man, the second towards the end of his life) but I don’t find this to be a problem – in fact I think it emphasises the future historical nature of the book and lends it weight.

The other two books of the Foundation trilogy are still sitting on a shelf somewhere at my parents’ house. I think next time I’m over, I’ll have to dig them out. A decade is far too long to go between readings of this wonderful series.

Book details

ISBN: 9780586010808
Publisher: Voyager
Year of publication: 1951

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