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Reviews of Foundation (1951)

Review by enderwiggin (2009-09-11)
Isaac Asimov was one of the foremost science fiction authors until his death in 1992. Among his many achievements is the fact that he has written and edited over 500 different books, and having an asteroid named after him (the 5020 Asimov). But what may be the most amazing is winning the Hugo Award for Best All-Time Series in 1966 for his Foundation Trilogy (Foundation, Foundation and Empire, and Second Foundation).

Foundation, the first book in this series, has five parts, four of which had been previously published in the magazine Astounding Science-Fiction. This novel is about the psychohistorian Hari Seldon and his quest to save the Galaxy from 30,000 years of chaos.

The novel opens with a young mathematician named Gaal Dornick as he is flying to the planet Trantor to meet Seldon. Hari "Raven" Seldon was looked upon by some to be a very intelligent and extraordinary man by most as a trouble-maker. He invented the branch of mathematics known as psychohistory. With psychohistory, one could predict the likely outcome of events in the future. Seldon discovered that the Galactic Empire would indeed fall within the next 300 years, and then would follow 30,000 years of chaos in the galaxy before the Empire rose again. But if Seldon and his followers and their descendants could create a society known as the Foundation, the 30,000 years would be reduced to a mere millenium.

And so follows the chronicle of the Foundation on the planet Terminus, at the very edge of the Galaxy. At first, the Foundation's only goal, as given them by the long-dead Seldon, was to make the Encyclopedia Galactica, a conglomeration of all the information known to mankind. They were governed by a committee whose only care was for the Encyclopedia. But, as with the rest of the Galaxy, many changes were stirring within the Foundation.

Asimov's story of how one man sought to save the Universe 29,000 years of misfortune is a success. Although it is very brief--only 255 pages--it successfully chronicles several years in the life of the Foundation, its struggles and failures, its successes and discoveries, and its role in the eventual deterioration of the Galactic Empire. This is a very good beginning to a highly-spoken-of series.

Grade: 8.5

Review by carrot (2007-09-08)
A quintessential work from one of the masters of the Golden age. Foundation is the story of history extended beyond human understanding. It is an examination of what it would mean to have human behaviour subjugated to science and government. Foundation and its sequels are packed full of Asimovian heroes. The scope of this work is impressive to say the least. I would recommend this series as a must read for any science-fiction fan.

Review by johnafair (2006-01-03)
First things first - this *is* a pretty dated book. It mainly consists of short pieces originally published in John Campbell's SF magaines during the 1940s so the various bits are not directly linked, with only Salvor Hardin, Terminus's first Mayor and his sidekick having more than a single story, but most of the stories carry the action forward with only the section 'The Traders' feeling somewhat out of place. The claim of fame with this novel is sweep of history that is presented - there's about 150 years here with Terminus starting off as little more than a gleam in Hari Seldon's eye through to a Power that was able to face off against the remnants of the Galactic Empire...

Review by blueworld (2004-03-31)
The setup for the plot is intriguing, but is unfortunately the only part that kept me reading. Asimov inspires an interest in the foundation and what will happen to it. But the ever-changing cast of characters are frankly uninteresting -- in this story they are their jobs, and no characters even approach being fully fleshed out people. Partway through the novel I also noticed that there are no female characters. None at all. No explanation given. That's the most noticable reminder that the book was written 50 years ago. This shows in the technology imagined for the future also.

Foundation is a classic of science fiction and as such deserves to be read, but as a novel I found it quite disappointing.

Review by LJOL (2003-08-05)
Well, I really enjoyed the book but I feal that I have been too kind with my gradings so I couldn't give it a nine or a ten (gave it an 8). Because there is some things that bothers me, Its pretty out of date. Although tousands and thousands of years have gone by they still regards microfilm as a modern thing and nucleics is a very, very good thing. I know it was written in the 50's but the man should have had more vision and hope in the future than that. But otherwise it is a grate book, the prose is excellent and the story is almost as good as it gets. It covers a huge time span and does it good, and I am not bothered wit the replacement of the protagonist every ones in a while, a pretty remarkable feat because the book covers just short of 300 pages. A true SF classic that I should have read a long time ago.

Review by groar (2003-07-30)
I liked it. The characters especially were believable and well-developed. The long time span covered allows you to see the Foundation's culture evolve over time, a very interesting concept. A lot of the chapters have to do with political maneuvering and all that, but it never gets dry and is always easy to follow. All in all, it's a good one, couldn't think of anything bad to say about it.

Review by transient0 (2003-03-07)
Originally written as a series of short stories, Foundation seems sort of stitched together like Frankenstein's monster when presented in novel form. Still, each of the short stories are excellent on their own, so the book can be a great experience if you read one chapter at a time or if you can handle having the protagonist replaced and never heard from again every thirty pages or so.

©Steven Jeffery /, 2017
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