Isaac Asimov's Foundation Set The Stage For Modern Science Fiction

In the latest Party Chat, we're talking about essential reading that set the stage for modern science fiction.

What it is: The first of Asimov's famous Foundation series, originally published as a collection of short stories between 1942 and 1950. Those stories eventually became the first full book in the Foundation trilogy. Later in Asimov's life, he expanded on the trilogy with several additional sequels.

What I've read: I finished the first book over the weekend. I'm already neck deep in its follow-up, Foundation and Empire, with Second Foundation on deck after that.

Is it good? Yes, it's good.

Quick thoughts: It was impossible for me to read Foundation with a true appreciation for how groundbreaking it must have been when it was published. It's remarkable even now, as much a philosophical reflection on the power of knowledge and technology as it is a tale of political intrigue. I was often struck by the protagonists' cynical and practical view of religion, which they manufacture in order to manipulate and pacify the less advanced kingdoms surrounding them.

It's striking given how, shortly after Foundation's publication, Asimov's contemporary L. Ron Hubbard successfully invented a real-world religion that persists to this day. Foundation is light on action and heavy on conversation -- it amounts to a collection of dialogues between various pairings of men, almost like a series of stage plays. It's no less engrossing for that. Definitely one to read if you haven't.


Comments

    Love these books, and the way he wrote in general.
    Foundation lays out some pretty heavy topics but not thick enough that you cant enjoy the read without delving too deep into what he may have meant.
    Its not a massive leap to see that the fantastical ideas he was writing about are hedged on real truths.

    Additionally i love that a lot of his concepts from the 40-50s came to be real things today, portable movie players, electronic book readers, self driving cars.

    The Foundation series was one of the most important collections of books I ever read. It influenced me massively. I first read them in the mid-80s and have revisited them a few times since. Now, 30 years later - at the age of 50, I have to acknowledge it's influence on my decision to do a psychology degree. Admittedly, the main theme behind Hari Seldon and the Foundation is statistical analysis but for some reason I latched on to the psychological aspects of it. Beside that, chaos theory pretty much killed any chance that statistics could realistically be applied in the way that the books hypothesise.

    The one frustration I have now is that I really want to read the books again, but I want it all on Kindle, damn it! The old paperbacks that I have are wrecked - the glue has all dried up and cracked and pages are falling out of them. I need to replace them. I'd much rather not have to buy them as physical copies.

      I bought all six books last year, to complete the nice cover picture. I just finished the Mule bit, plenty more to go.

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