Foundation (1951) – Isaac Asimov

While I have always been a sci-fi fan, I’ve kept it mainly to film and television, with a few exceptions, James S.A. Corey’s brilliant Expanse series, Herbert’s Dune, some Bradbury, and of course, Arthur C. Clarke. I was always worried that if I dug into any of Isaac Asimov’s novels, that they would seem to heady, and I’d end up feeling like a moron wading through his texts and narratives.

But the promise of an upcoming series based on his Foundation series urged me to movement, and so I finally read me some Asimov, with the first book (written not chronologically within the series) of the Foundation novels. And I loved it.

Far into the distant future, when Earth is little more than a distant memory, humanity has expanded into the stars, settling, colonising, and creating a great galactic Empire. Hari Seldon is a psychohistorian, applying psychology to the history and economics of humanity, he can predict events, in a general sense, of the future, and he sees the imminent fall of the Empire, and humanity plunged into millenia of Dark Ages before a second Empire can arise.

But, he has a plan, he can shorten that time period to a single millennium, and he maneuvers political parties and rulers into giving him what he wants, two worlds at the opposite ends of the galaxy, Star’s End and Terminus. Under the guise of creating an Encylopdiea Galactica, Foundation, the worlds are secluded from the floundering Empire, but it is just the beginning.

Through a series of five interconnected stories, moving further into the future, we see the trials that confront society as it begins to tumble, and the realisations and the work Foundation struggles to keep humanity from destroying itself, and free of a prolonged Dark Age.

Asimov delivers a fascinating narrative, filled with interesting characters, though there’s only one woman mentioned as such in the entire book, and she’s a bit of a shrew, so that’s troubling. Everything else works out great as there are moments of adventure, politics, and the struggle of humanity with itself, teetering on the brink of destruction, or the possibility of something greater.

It was a fast, and highly enjoyable read, and has made me determined to explore the rest of the series and possibly delve into his other writings as well. He keeps the story moving, has intriguing characters, and while some of the words used as descriptors feel dated, you can see all of the tech, and creations in the mind’s eye, and it seems like someday, it will be achievable, perhaps Empire and beyond.

Honestly, I’m sorry it took me so long to pick up my first Asimov book, but I’m glad that I waited long enough so that I could get full enjoyment out of it.

Ler’s see where he takes me in his second book in the series, Foundation and Empire!

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