Copyright 1951 by
I first read this in 1968 and most recently on the 30th September 2002.
In the far future the Galactic Empire straddles a million worlds, bringing
civilisation and economic prosperity to all. The imperial capital is the city
that covers the entire planet of Trantor and it is home to a population
of forty billion people.
Hari Seldon is the scientist leading the field of psychohistory, the branch
of mathematics that deals with the reactions of human conglomerates to
fixed social and economic stimuli. He has developed this new science so far
that he now believes he and his team can predict the future with exactitude.
Unfortunately the future he foresees for the empire is one of disaster
and collapse. He predicts the total destruction of the glorious capital
world of Trantor within five hundred years.
News like this doesn't go down well with the imperial government, but Seldon's
reputation is such that such news can't be dismissed out of hand. Hari Seldon
and team of a mere hundred thousand staff are shipped off to a distant world of
Terminus, there to establish a Foundation. The foundation will collect and
preserve all human knowledge in the form of an encyclopaedia - the Encyclopedia
Galactica - and will use this knowledge to shorten the dark ages that will
inevitably follow the imperial fall.
However, as the empire does indeed begin to collapse, the world of Terminus and
its Encyclopedia begin to be seen as a wealthy prize to its warring neighbours.
Thus the Foundation, humanity's sole hope for preserving civilisation, is at risk.
Well, here it is. One of the classics of SF. It's also one of the novels
that got me started on SF so obviously I thought it was a masterpiece at the time.
What did I think of it this time around? Well, it's still very, very good,
surprisingly so. Even now it imparts a sense of wonder
and amazement, as Hari Seldon's psychohistory predictions holding true down
Asimov is great story-teller, and in this series of novels he
very successfully created a grand view of mankind's progress down through
thousands of years of future history peopled it with interesting
and memorable characters. Look at them: Garl Dornick, young and naive scientist
coming to the big city; Salvor Hardin, mayor of Terminus City; Limmar Ponyets
and Hober Mallow, traders at the periphery of the old empire, and of course, there's
Hari Seldon himself.
It's great stuff.
What surprised me is that it's actually a several short and simple stories covering
different characters at different periods following the establishment of the
Foundation - I'd completely forgotten this, remembering only the original
series as forming one majestic epic.
Loaded on the 27th December 2002.