I decided to plan a little break this year by giving myself a guaranteed-to-love-it book series. Foundation and its original trilogy were a set of books I read several years ago now and loved, and I’m excited to see if they held up. Asimov has long been one of my favorite authors.
Author: Isaac Asimov
1951 (sort of – short stories were published in the 40’s)
I know I like this book, so sorry for the spoiler.
I love this book. It’s a collection of short stories, sure, but overall it feels like a fantastic generational story about the progress of a single people. It has this “wandering in the desert” feel like the Jews before they reached the promised land, wherein God is represented by Hari Seldon and gives prophetic advice every so often. Each step taken in Foundation leads to a great set of discoveries for humanity, and it’s fun to read through.
The premise is sort of mind-boggling in that I find it unlikely for humans to lose so much technology so quickly, but it’s not as far-out as we might think. Up until the Age of Reason, humanity would go back and forth in terms of how much collective knowledge we had. It’s only been relatively recent that people only look at our knowledge as going monotonically forward. With the plot of Foundation closely tied to the historic fall of the Roman Empire, the overall story makes quite a bit of sense and has an additional layer of richness.
As always, Asimov’s style is exactly what I want in a book. I’ve never, not even once, been tempted to skip paragraphs or parts of an Asimov book because the twists, turns, logical procession, and language are all just what I want. If there’s any writer I wish to emulate, it’s this guy.
Down sides? Diversity is trash. The only “people” in this story, really, are white men who smoke like mofos. My goodness, it’s a wonder anyone got anything done with all that tobacco haze. Even though the presence of non-whites and women is very limited in this book, I find the 40’s environment in the future to be incredibly interesting. I wasn’t terribly bothered by it much because I can forgive Asimov (somewhat) for his time.
5/5 Discoball Snowcones
Usually in spoilers for short stories, I talk about the favorite story and least favorite story, but this set of shorts go together so well that it makes for a fantastic novel.
Each of the characters followed in the story contribute in their own way toward the success of the Foundation. Hardin, however, does it twice and in what I think are the most dramatic and clever of the “Seldon Crises” foretold before the Foundation was created. He used a political solution – aiming two enemies against each other – in order to save his foundation without war. He then used religion to hold the peoples of the enemy states hostage and demand peace for the Foundation.
The stories following Hardin got into trade and how people had to stop relying on the religion. This was by far the longest story and was interesting in and of itself, but the actual acknowledgement that people worship money made it a little less pleasant for me individually.
This is the last book I’ll be reviewing this year, but you can find the other books I’ve read in the Foundation Series on Goodreads! Stay tuned for a few updates on this year of reading, including my progress on getting through Amazon’s 100 Books to Read Before You Die and my list of favorites for the year.
2 thoughts on “Book Review: Foundation”
I’m embarrassed that I haven’t read these. I’ll get on that.
My suggestion for a first read is to do the original trilogy (Foundation, Foundation and Empire, and Second Foundation) first. So I guess publication order for the first read.