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Foundation (Foundation Novels) by Isaac…
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Foundation (Foundation Novels) (original 1951; edition 2008)

by Isaac Asimov

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11,893197221 (4)2 / 318
coffyman's review
Kind of slow, but I'm reading the whole series from the beginning, so I soldier on. The first two books were better, but this one was written in the 50s when he was just beginning his writing career. ( )
  coffyman | Apr 19, 2012 |
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There's so much to be said for Foundation. We start out with the psychohistorians with their leader Hari Seldon who has predicted a 10,000 year Empire is about to crash to its knees and herald in a new Dark Ages. Hari can't stop the Dark Ages but he can shorten it.

Interestingly he creates a priest class that runs the "nucleonics" of the Foundation, its erstwhile goal of creating an Encyclopedia Galactica set aside by stemming the tide of losing technology.

You see, the Empire is losing its grip on the other sectors of the galaxy. More and more are dividing and becoming their own little kingdoms. The book centers around several characters who, through inside and cleverness, make things happen to keep the Foundation and create an insidious society that keeps it going.

Asimov as an author, I have always been impressed with. His ability to create and predict (micro-miniaturization), parodies and criticism of religion and science, trade and technology, is throughout the book.

Near the end, we find that The Foundation is set to expand. Each chapter stands on its own and can be difficult for some to follow. But each chapter expands decades, some more, and as such can be hard to keep up.

Highly recommended. Not "hard core" sci-fi so much as character-driven sci-fi.
( )
  jmourgos | Sep 12, 2014 |
Isaac Asimov scrie inteligent. Abia astept sa citesc restul cartilor din seria Fundatia. ( )
  mariusgm | Sep 12, 2014 |
The first of the Foundation novels to be published, the various parts of the book were published in various formats in science fiction magazines going back to the early forties, with only the opening chapters bdeing specifically written for the book in the fifties. Given this, there are a number of discrepancies that have made it through; at the trial of Seldon Dornick, Seldon says the Imperial Peace had lasted 12,000 years but when Hober Mallow made his way to the remnants of the empire it is said to have lasted only 2,000 years.

On the whole, however, the stories are remarkably consistant even if some elements undoubtedly feel a bit dated. Another thing that is commented on by Asimov himself in later episodes of the sequence is that much of the actual action lies off-screen - these books are basically people standing around talking, though still captivating all the same. ( )
  JohnFair | Jul 20, 2014 |
This book is amazing. The whole premise of future with a religion of science is very interesting. While it is in the future, you can draw parallels to the past, which makes this book become even more interesting. The author doesn't bog you down with details and just lets you imagine the journey through this wonderful story. It is very quick and almost seems like a set of short stories, which is perfect for discovering the overall implications of Foundation and the many decades this story covers. ( )
  renbedell | Jul 13, 2014 |
Re-reading this for the first time since I was thirteen or so. It still seems excellent and unique, if maybe a tiny bit less special. ( )
  nosajeel | Jun 21, 2014 |
Each time I re read this I cross my fingers hoping its better than I remembered as a youth. Sigh. Such a shame. Still a joyful romp through the stars, just ignore the politics though.
  MichaelODonoghue | May 22, 2014 |
Good book with great concepts surrounding the predictability of the human race as a whole in terms of large-group dynamics. ( )
  mccandlessn | Apr 24, 2014 |
Superbly original work, about the fall of a future Galactic Empire and its gradual reconstruction over the span of some centuries. I absolutely love how, despite being set 14,000 years in the future, EVERYBODY, on EVERY planet, keeps smoking cigars and cigarettes as if their life depended on it. Also, when they want to gaze at the stars, the charachters pull "heavy drapes" from the windows. Amazing. But Asimov doesn't give a crap about these details, what he's writing about is ideas and logical tricks, not people, not emotions, not a credible future reality.

I prefer the robot series, it's more engaging. The weakness of the Foundation series is the ultimate "goal" of decreasing the Middle Ages anarchic period from 30,000 years to 1,000 years. Doesn't make too much sense, and it does not help the reader to invest in the story, especially when the charachters necessarily change with each of the 5 stories. ( )
1 vote tabascofromgudreads | Apr 19, 2014 |
I love Isaac Asimov??s ideas, but I just couldnƒ??t suspend disbelief for the plot of this famous novel. The premise is that Hari Seldon, a psychohistorian, has calculated the course of history and made preparations for preserving humanity on a distant planet. I think itƒ??s the psychologist in me that just canƒ??t get past this premise. Thereƒ??s no way that history can be predicted ƒ?? there are just too many factors. Another issue I have with Asimov, and itƒ??s so blatantly displayed here, is that though he could imagine all sorts of futuristic technology and possible histories, he didnƒ??t seem to be able to imagine that someday women might find their way out of their kitchens and bedrooms. ( )
1 vote Kat_Hooper | Apr 6, 2014 |
Similar to Dune, a classic that I had wanted to read for a long time. Enjoyable, with (to me) an unexpected structure. ( )
  JonathanCrites | Mar 17, 2014 |
I had heard a lot about the Foundation series and picked it up on a whim. This first book started out quite interesting. The premise that an all-encompassing library of knowledge would be the saving grace of a failing Empire. The story then drops the reader into various points of the next 1000 years - critical historical junctures known as "Seldon crises" that must be resolved so that the planned society could move forward through a plotted course in yet-conceived History. Each section proved to be rather confusing until the moments had been explained - and the plot-line utilizing this wears thin quickly. Its an "ok" start to a series, so I am a little interested to see where the next book takes things.... ( )
  TommyElf | Jan 5, 2014 |
Foundation is the first of The Foundation Trilogy. I like reading Asimov. His chapters are short and his characters are interesting though not the primary part of the story. In Foundation we are taken through years of time in leaps and bounds. The protagonist is really the Foundation and the evolution of society. The story is about growth according to the science of psychohistory and the theory of Hari Seldon that crisis will force the evolution along to the future Empire. ( )
  Kristelh | Nov 16, 2013 |
i think i need to read the others. i liked this one, but i felt unfulfilled. yes, definitely i should look into the others. ( )
  amyolivia | Oct 25, 2013 |
My all time favorite Sci Fi book. Wonderfully written and imagined. I re=read this one every few years.
  MissJessie | Oct 16, 2013 |
I was expecting something more along the lines of scientific advancement, which will probably be more prevalent in the following volumes. Foundation focused more on psychohistory and the prediction and manipulation of the future. The premise was a fascinating exercise in galactic politics, I found myself abruptly moving forward in time before I was ready to detach myself from key characters. It was necessary in order to advance this particular plot, but it made me care a little less.

I was also a little disappointed in what the founder came up with in regards to the manipulation of human lives. While his goal of reducing great turmoil can hardy be argued with, I felt that there was a lack of disrespect in the use of religion to manipulate people. Yes, it has been done over and over, but the author seemed indifferent to what people really believed. Like all the other tools, religion in a spiritual sense was important only insofar as it accomplished the eventual goal. Had he used a secular ideology, although less effective than a false religion, I would have been less offended. Religion came across as a petty concept, yet from a humanitarian point of view it should have been portrayed with a modicum of dignity. There was a hint of arrogant pride in some of the affects of success, such as even fooling the priests. Human ideology, whether theist, agnostic, or atheist play a very important role on the human psyche and should be respected, especially when reaching out to a broad audience.

Regardless of my stand, this is a very engaging story and I am curious as to how it plays out in the following books. ( )
  YvonnevonInnes | Sep 25, 2013 |
A very engaging and fun sci-fi read with no wasted words. The plot is not action-heavy, but the psychology of the characters and how it affects history is more than compelling.

I had long been thinking about reading this, but never got around to it. Glad I did! Looking forward to reading more Asimov. ( )
  wethewatched | Sep 24, 2013 |
Hard to review a classic, really. Especially one I read long ago, and have fond memories of.

Suffice to say, although it shows that this was written as several short stories originally, it doesn't matter, in fact I wish a lot of modern authors would look at some of this older stuff and take note. You can successfully world (or in this case, galaxy) build, without including pages and pages of description, in fact this is a pretty short book considering what it covers. That said, it can be a little expository for my taste in places, but that's part of the style of the day, and since it's not also weighted down with overly much descriptive text, it's not too bad.

As to the ideas, well perhaps the science doesn't hold up that well, and some of the western cultural/social mores of the time stand out a little too much now, and perhaps chaos theory scuttles the psychology sociology writ large that is psychohistory, but it's still a good easy fast read. Which is the main thing, really.

( )
  krazykiwi | Sep 22, 2013 |
This really is a marvel! ( )
  IAmAndyPieters | Sep 14, 2013 |
Despite the author's reputation, it took me months to finish this book and only because of a dedicated effort did I decide to listen to the whole book. This trilogy is the story of civilization in it's nadir, jumping from crisis to crisis, with it's highlight another empire in 1000 years? Why an empire? One wonders that other forms of human government may be a better goal. I guess that will become evident in book 3 but I don't know if I'll get there. ( )
  buffalogr | Sep 11, 2013 |
It’s refreshing to read SF that has very little surface description. Visuals only attend supertechnology and spaceships and other exciting things that the prose slows down to emphasize. But generally the reader is left to their own imaginative devices. This has helped the novel seem timeless.

Dialogue drives the plot in the same speedy way as crime fiction. The prose also has the same sparse economy of crime fiction, with very little unnecessary detail, and this allows for a nice smooth pace. The chapters also read like small mysteries that get the reader to guess at the solution to the Seldon Crises. Asimov writes SF in the way I’d imagine Agatha Christie might, and I like that. I like the plain nondescript prose. Too much of SF is flamboyant and dense.

But the dialogue is awkward and wouldn’t stand up in crime fiction. Asimov uses far too many adverbs in one or two-word leads (Example: Angrily, “_____”). He also tries to break up the monotony of his characters’ monologues with hackneyed action – characters light cigars and cigarettes and stand up and sit down, etc. These attempts at naturalism are pathetic and distracting.

Much of the dialogue is exciting and twisty, and lot of the ideas are clever and thought-provoking, but it’s almost always clunky. I didn’t like Asimov’s attempts at writing dialogue how people actually speak it. He has no idea and should never pretend he does. He’s an idea machine that can write a good story. Not a keen observer of human interaction. ( )
  Algybama | Sep 8, 2013 |
Asimov's work is excellent, as always. He has the ability to condense important information into a small space, to introduce characters quickly and efficiently, to present scientific concepts with ease, and to lead the reader on whatever twists and turns he wishes. This makes one of his most famous books entertaining, at least, and delightful, at best.

There is not much I can say about the skill with which he writes this book. But I will mention why I downgraded the book from five stars to four.

First, the structure. In his style, he writes in sections, which separate the book nicely - but seeing as I complained about the chapter enumeration in McDevitt's work, and that enumeration is almost identical here, it would be incongruous for me not to mention my displeasure with it in this case. On the other hand, Asimov's publisher, whether it was a modern choice or not, has done a good job of making the pages clean and the chapter breaks clear, whereas McDevitt's pages seemed cluttered, and the chapter breaks random.

The second issue was something brought to my attention by an old associate. Now, let me preface this by noting that I have no problem with authors trying to convey important messages through their work; if they don't, there's not a whole lot of point to the work to begin with. An author has to talk about the human experience, or political problems, or religious questions, or philosophy, or history, or something, anything, other than "Bob and Sally had an adventure." It only makes sense.

But with that being said, it can get a little... overbearing. In "Foundation," the overbearing part is the pacifism. "Violence is the last resort of the incompetent," characters quip throughout the book. Every crisis, every situation, every challenge is resolved with completely non-violent means (or at least, no means involving direct violence; starting a kingdom-wide religious riot probably resulted in a little bit of violence). In fact, the whole point of the book is not the cleverness of psychohistory (which was heavily involved in "Prelude to Foundation"), nor is it technology, or even really the challenges of rescuing knowledge and science as civilization devolves at the end of an era. It's mostly about how peaceful means are more effective than violent means - inventing religions, manipulating economies, and playing politics are all more ethical behavior than fighting a war (even defensively).

What was most frustrating was that the last two sections of the book proved this to me. The penultimate section did not even deal with a Seldon crisis; its only purpose was to lay the groundwork for the final section (i.e., "There are traders, and they trade stuff."). And the final section does not bring us full circle to the first section of the book; it does not connect back with Seldon's initial appearance; and it does not close an overarching story from beginning to end. It does bring us back to the Empire, but only as an unexpected twist. One of the defining characteristics of Seldon crises is the appearance of Seldon with sage advice, which did not occur in the final section of the book.

In short, the reason I downgraded this otherwise-excellent book from five stars to four is that it struck me, not as a cohesive unit with constant theme and strong message, but as a collection of short stories, each of which tried to say, "Peaceful coercion is better than violent coercion, even if the peaceful behavior is traditionally unethical." ( )
  Versor | Sep 7, 2013 |
I really tried with this book, but I could never really get into it. Even more than half through I didn't care about it. It was well written and I appreciated what Asimov was doing with the story, but it didn't work for me. ( )
  whymaggiemay | Sep 1, 2013 |
I had read this book once before but didn't realize that when I started. It kinda spoiled the "plot twists" and the crises. I enjoyed this book but it's probably more fun to think about and discuss than to read.

Also, this is old sci-fi so and that is a bit tiresome because I continuously have to redact the narrative to make a believable future for me (Ie change some characters to females, insert energy instead of nuclear all the time (couldn't it be fusion/zero-point/etc?), replace microfilm, phones and fax etc.) ( )
  MickeNimell | Aug 24, 2013 |
Foundation
Isaac Asimov
Wednesday, July 31, 2013

I read this many years ago, I would bet in about 1966, because I have a copy of the Science Fiction book club Foundation Trilogy, signed by Asimov, dated 27 Oct 1967. My sister Anne went to a lecture by Asimov, and she asked for the autograph. The original publication date is 1951, but I suspect the stories might have appeared in magazines previously. I bought a new Folio edition recently, and decided to re-read the entire trilogy. Paul Krugman, an economist of note, wrote the introduction, recalling that Hari Seldon's psychohistory motivated him for his profession. I read this very quickly, because I did not recall the plot, and re-lived adolescence, when decisive, clever and powerful characters were my idols. This is really 3 or 4 separate short stories. We meet Hari Seldon as the foundation is exiled from Trantor, the center of the Empire. The foundation is then established on Terminus, and fights off the local conquering despots, after the mayor takes control from the encyclopediaists. The Foundation expands as a religion to local worlds, but encounters resistance in another Seldon crisis, turning to the traders for a new model of expansion. ( )
  neurodrew | Aug 4, 2013 |
I really loved this book. It's SO smart. Read it now! ( )
  trinkers | Aug 3, 2013 |
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