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Foundation (1951)

by Isaac Asimov

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Foundation (3), Foundation Expanded Universe (11)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
17,015303216 (4)2 / 477
One of the great masterworks of science fiction, the Foundation novels of Isaac Asimov are unsurpassed for their unique blend of nonstop action, daring ideas, and extensive world-building. The story of our future begins with the history of Foundation and its greatest psychohistorian: Hari Seldon. For twelve thousand years the Galactic Empire has ruled supreme. Now it is dying. Only Hari Seldon, creator of the revolutionary science of psychohistory, can see into the future--a dark age of ignorance, barbarism, and warfare--that will last thirty thousand years. To preserve knowledge and save mankind, Seldon gathers the best minds in the Empire--both scientists and scholars--and brings them to a bleak planet at the edge of the Galaxy to serve as a beacon of hope for future generations. He calls his sanctuary the Foundation. But soon the fledgling Foundation finds itself at the mercy of corrupt warlords rising in the wake of the receding Empire. And mankind's last best hope is faced with an agonizing choice: submit to the barbarians and live as slaves, or take a stand for freedom and risk total destruction.… (more)
Recently added byprivate library, ekaytan, Arina42, Krinsekatze, HKnight92, Ralphd00d, FirstWord, lindacampbell, ejmw
  1. 295
    Dune by Frank Herbert (Patangel, JonTheTerrible, philAbrams)
    JonTheTerrible: The pace of these books are similar as well as the topics they cover: society and government. The science plays only a small role in both books but is present enough to successfully build the worlds in which the characters inhabit.
  2. 121
    The Foundation Trilogy by Isaac Asimov (karnoefel)
    karnoefel: de eerste drie foundation boeken in een robuuste hardcoverband. Dit boek was een van de eerste sf boeken die ik las in de jaren 70 in de bibliotheek van Tegelen
  3. 112
    The Caves of Steel by Isaac Asimov (Cecrow)
  4. 72
    Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card (br77rino)
  5. 30
    Pebble in the Sky by Isaac Asimov (br77rino)
    br77rino: Pebble in the Sky is the first book Asimov wrote regarding the Galactic Empire, a subject he used in his later masterpiece trilogy, Foundation.
  6. 42
    Foundation's Fear by Gregory Benford (Patangel)
  7. 31
    Ringworld by Larry Niven (nar_)
    nar_: Space travelling and interminable, huge lands and space... so huge !
  8. 53
    A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller Jr. (yokai)
  9. 10
    Foundation and Empire by Isaac Asimov (philAbrams)
  10. 21
    Psychohistorical Crisis by Donald Kingsbury (goodiegoodie)
  11. 00
    The Dark Forest by Liu Cixin (aulandez)
  12. 11
    Shadow of Heaven by Bob Shaw (Polenth)
  13. 01
    Even Peons are People: Interplanetary Justice by D. Pak (Anonymous user)
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    The Ear, the Eye, and the Arm by Nancy Farmer (missmaddie)
  15. 02
    The Chrysalids by John Wyndham (br77rino)
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English (280)  Italian (4)  French (3)  Dutch (3)  Finnish (2)  Slovak (2)  Spanish (2)  Polish (1)  Portuguese (1)  Hungarian (1)  German (1)  Catalan (1)  All languages (301)
Showing 1-5 of 280 (next | show all)
I gave the book itself three stars, this review is a combination of that and the audible audio production.

To read my review of the book, go here: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/3466169644 ( )
  ImaginarySpace | May 3, 2021 |
I first read Foundation in my teenage years, it was one of my first science fiction books and it blew me away. I kind of wish I had left this book in my past, but here I am.

Let's start with this: I still enjoyed it, there are a lot of good ideas in this book and its value as one of the first epic works of science fiction as well as its influence on the genre is very recognizable.

It is also timeless in most of its ideas, which is why I think it still works today and is worth a read, if you want to get into the scifi classics and are interested in the history of the genre.
The general idea of psychohistory and the overall story was probably much more impressive in 1955, now it's an interesting, if not very realistic, thought experiment in the speculative fiction genre.

The story is mainly presented through dialogue, and actions are mostly described in hindsight. This is interesting, but also not for everyone. There's not a lot of suspense, and the focus is clearly not on the story or the characters, but on the ideas behind those. Which sometimes can come across as rather pseudo-intellectual.

In my opinion, the biggest flaw of the book is this:
If the story is not the focus, and the characters move it forward via dialogue, then I want to be invested in the characters. But I am not. They are all experts in their fields, they are all highly intelligent, educated, and, most of all, confident. They might have different occupations, but basically they are the same. And they see everything coming from five miles away. And they are all men. They seem more like self-inserts of the author explaining his intellectual ideas to us. The antagonists are mostly greedy and dumb and easily outmaneuvered. And they are all men.

Now, don't get me wrong, I totally understand this book was written in the 1950s. But you might think women don't exist at all. In a way that's over the top even for the 1950s, and definitely out of place in a work of science fiction which presents itself as full of new, innovative and progressive ideas. I will get into this more in the end, because before you stop reading, I want to make another point:

A central element of the story is psychohistory and the "Seldon Crisis", named for Hari Seldon, who predicted them down to the exact day. Which is a cool concept, but - they don't have any impact. The fact that he saw them coming doesn't have any impact. Each time there's a Seldon Crisis, the highly intelligent protagonist of that chapter already knows it and already knows what he will do to overcome it. When they get Hari Seldon's message it basically states 'Hi, I saw this coming and the solution is obvious, so I will not tell you.' It has no impact. There's no twist, no surprise, nothing like that.

Also, there's this really unnecessary mention of this one very straightforward evil guy having "dark eyes and a hooked nose", in a book where the appearance of characters is rarely ever described. I'm just going to leave that here. Even in the 1950, that wasn't okay.

So, this book has a good idea and I grant it one more star for its value as a classic, but it's not a good story or a good book.

That's it for my review, now if you are interested in my thoughts on the women (or lack thereof) in this book, read along.

So, everybody is a man. People in power are men, people without power are men, everybody with a job is a man. Women are mentioned so rarely I actually marked the occasions:

- In one chapter as "wives and children" of the people working for the Foundation.
- One time there's a secertary who forwards a call, this is described in one half sentence, she doesn't get any lines.
- There's a "young girl", she's allowed to put on some jewellery and to say 'Oh!', then she's waved away. But she's sad, because she could not keep the jewellery, because women, amirite?
- Then there's a woman who actually has a name! She's bickering and hates her husband and tells him how inferior he is. But then he gifts her some jewellery and she shuts up, because women, amirite? (I don't kid you, this is actually spelled out in the book. It's not subtle.) She appears again later and we learn she was married to that man by her father. Of course she criticizes him some more, because women.
- There's a man who says his sons died. And that he hopes his daughter 'died, eventually'. ('hope' is actually in italics in the book as well). So ... yeah.
- 'There was no mention of any [...] agreement [...]' - 'Nor was there any mention of what I had for breakfast [...], or the name of my current mistress, or any other irrelevant detail.'
- They are used as an example for the inconvenciences of a siege: The housewives will get mad when all their appliances (stove, washer and all that stuff women use) don't work anymore. It's dismissed with a 'What do you expect? A housewives' rebellion?' (I would read that story.)

This is really irritating. None of the characters ever talks about having a wife. We never even learn if any of them is married. There are no women working anywhere. There are no women living anywhere. There are no women at official gatherings (the named wife of one of the characters is never present anywhere else than alone with him in their living quarters).
Of course this is partly because Asimov never fleshed out his characters. We don't just not learn about their love live, we also don't learn if they have children, what they do for fun, if they have interests outside of being smarter than everybody else etc. ( )
  ImaginarySpace | May 3, 2021 |
Long time since I read this and it hasn't aged well. The concept of psycho history and Seldon crises is brilliant but the macho, cigar smoking characters are firmly rooted in 1950s US politics - almost no female characters, the few who are there are as stereotypical as the male heroes. It's become a curiosity. ( )
  Figgles | Apr 23, 2021 |
Foundation is a great name for the book because it is truly the foundation of science fiction. It tells such an original story written in the early 50s it is still one of the greatest sci-fi books of all time ( )
  darksaint | Apr 18, 2021 |
An interesting take on prediction via mathematics, probability, and psychology, set in the distant future of mankind. It is interesting to see how the characters react to perceived information, and not enough information, starting from the beginning story. ( )
  quinton.baran | Mar 29, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 280 (next | show all)

» Add other authors (35 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Isaac Asimovprimary authorall editionscalculated
Brick, ScottNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Foss, ChrisCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fruttero, CarloForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Giralt, PilarTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lucentini, FrancoForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rosenthal, JeanTraductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Scaglia, CesareTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sweet, Darrell K.Cover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Dedication
Post-1973 reissues:
To the memory of my mother
(1895–1973)
1951 issue:
To my Mother

Of whose Authentic Gray Hairs
Not a few were caused by myself.
First words
HARI SELDON ... born in the 11,988th year of the Galactic Era: died 12,069.

ENCYCLOPEDIA GALACTICA
His name was Gaal Dornick and he was just a country boy who had never seen Trantor before.
Quotations
It pays to be obvious, especially if you have a reputation for subtlety.
Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent.
Violence is the last refuge of the competent.
He had brought down his first Nyak when scarcely thirteen; had brought down his tenth the week after his accession to the throne; and was returning now from his forty-sixth.

‘Fifty before I come of age,’ he had exulted. ‘Who’ll take the wager?’

But courtiers don’t take wagers against the king’s skill. There is the deadly danger of winning.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Canonical DDC/MDS

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (1)

One of the great masterworks of science fiction, the Foundation novels of Isaac Asimov are unsurpassed for their unique blend of nonstop action, daring ideas, and extensive world-building. The story of our future begins with the history of Foundation and its greatest psychohistorian: Hari Seldon. For twelve thousand years the Galactic Empire has ruled supreme. Now it is dying. Only Hari Seldon, creator of the revolutionary science of psychohistory, can see into the future--a dark age of ignorance, barbarism, and warfare--that will last thirty thousand years. To preserve knowledge and save mankind, Seldon gathers the best minds in the Empire--both scientists and scholars--and brings them to a bleak planet at the edge of the Galaxy to serve as a beacon of hope for future generations. He calls his sanctuary the Foundation. But soon the fledgling Foundation finds itself at the mercy of corrupt warlords rising in the wake of the receding Empire. And mankind's last best hope is faced with an agonizing choice: submit to the barbarians and live as slaves, or take a stand for freedom and risk total destruction.

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Book description
First issued as Ace Double D-110 (with Poul Anderson's "No World of Their Own"); shortly thereafter, reissued as a stand-alone with the same publisher's number (D-110); reissued again a few years later as D-538. One of the stories that make up the 'fix-up' novel "Foundation".
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