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Biased and superficial Science Fiction reviews

       
Foundation

Copyright 1951 by Isaac Asimov

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SOJALS rating:     
one SOJALS point one SOJALS point one SOJALS point one SOJALS point no SOJALS point    Superb (4/5)

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 the centuries.

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.
    
Cover of Foundation
Cover by Tim White

Reviews of other work by Isaac Asimov
Foundation And Empire
Second Foundation
The End Of Eternity



Other reviews with covers by Tim White
City On Fire