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Foundation Mass Market Paperback – October 1, 1991
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THE EPIC SAGA THAT INSPIRED THE APPLE TV+ SERIES FOUNDATION, NOW STREAMING • Nominated as one of America’s best-loved novels by PBS’s The Great American Read
For twelve thousand years the Galactic Empire has ruled supreme. Now it is dying. But only Hari Seldon, creator of the revolutionary science of psychohistory, can see into the future—to a dark age of ignorance, barbarism, and warfare that will last thirty thousand years. To preserve knowledge and save humankind, 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.
The Foundation novels of Isaac Asimov are among the most influential in the history of science fiction, celebrated for their unique blend of breathtaking action, daring ideas, and extensive worldbuilding. In Foundation, Asimov has written a timely and timeless novel of the best—and worst—that lies in humanity, and the power of even a few courageous souls to shine a light in a universe of darkness.
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From the Publisher
|Foundation and Empire (Book 2)||Second Foundation (Book 3)||Foundation’s Edge (Book 4)||Foundation and Earth (Book 5)||Prelude to Foundation (Foundation Prequel 1)||Forward the Foundation (Foundation Prequel 2)|
|The second novel in Isaac Asimov’s classic science-fiction masterpiece, the Foundation series.||The third novel in Isaac Asimov’s classic science-fiction masterpiece, the Foundation series.||The fourth novel in Isaac Asimov’s classic science-fiction masterpiece, the Foundation series.||The fifth novel in Isaac Asimov’s classic science-fiction masterpiece, the Foundation series.||The first of two prequel novels in Isaac Asimov’s classic science-fiction masterpiece.||The second of two prequel novels in Isaac Asimov’s classic science-fiction masterpiece.|
“A true polymath, a superb rationalist, an exciting and accessible writer in both fiction and nonfiction, Isaac Asimov was simply a master of all he surveyed.”—Greg Bear
“Asimov served wondrous meals-of-the-mind to a civilization that was starved for clear thinking about the future. To this day, his visions spice our ongoing dinner-table conversation about human destiny.”—David Brin
“Isaac was still in his teens when I met him, a fan of mine before I was a fan of his. Writing for John W. Campbell back in the famous ‘golden age of science fiction,’ he became one of the founders of our field. With the Robot stories and the Foundation stories, he helped to shape science fiction as we know it.”—Jack Williamson
“I grew up on the ABC’s of science fiction—Asimov, Bradbury, Clarke. There’s a reason Asimov’s name comes first, and not just because of the alphabet!”—Janis Ian
“With his fertile imagination, his wit, and his prolific output, Isaac Asimov truly laid the foundation for all future generations of science fiction writers.”—Kevin J. Anderson
“If anything can be said to have been the launch pad for space-age science fiction, it has to be the Foundation trilogy. It’s a classic. And it’s unforgettable.”—Jack McDevitt
“The Foundation series is one of the masterpieces of science fiction. If you’ve never read these novels, then you’re in for a treat, and even if you’ve already read them, then you owe it to yourself to reread them, because they’re still great.”—Allen Steele
“Quite simply, Asimov got me started.”—Liz Williams
“Asimov’s Foundation trilogy was the pivotal touchstone of my life in creative fiction. His vision and scope spanned the galaxy across eons, and at the same time he told deeply personal stories of living characters. The writer I am sprang from the boy that these books touched back then. They continue to move me still. Thank you, Isaac, for opening my mind and my life to the possible.”—Tracy Hickman
“I’m sure there will be more Foundation stories, and more robot stories, and more science-fictional mysteries, because those are Isaac’s legacies to us. But reading them won’t be quite the same. There was only one Isaac Asimov; there will never be another.”—Mike Resnick
- Publisher : Bantam Spectra Books; Revised edition (October 1, 1991)
- Language : English
- Mass Market Paperback : 296 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0553293354
- ISBN-13 : 978-0553293357
- Lexile measure : 830L
- Item Weight : 5.6 ounces
- Dimensions : 4.15 x 0.8 x 6.81 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #6,892 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from the United States
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1) This is a male-only story. There are probably 50 or 60 characters across multiple segments scattered across time. ALL men. Governors, mayors, scientists, traders, commanders, etc. Not a single woman among them. Yes, there are few female characters. I counted 3, but each served as nothing more than scene decoration (literally, in one scene merely as a pretty neck to hang a glowing necklace around, then she's gone). Either Asimov bought into the 1950s era idea that a woman's place was raising children and cleaning the house and he couldn't imagine a future that was different, OR (worse) he was a misogynist who disliked the company of women and simply wrote a story where they didn't exist.
2) Everyone - literally everyone, smokes cigars. Cigars play a big part from start to end. It's as if Asimov could only imagine future technology, not future health, or social mannerisms.
3) The story is boring. Yes, there's a bit of futuristic technology here and there, but most of this story is a Shakespearean drama with devious plotting, backstabbing, more plotting, war strategies, and still more plotting. The typical scene is: important man sits behind an important desk, in walks in an opponent who is nervous/arrogant/angry, and they spend the rest of the scene in dialogue. Nothing happens. Nothing much is described. Just dialogue. Ever seen one of those movies that was made from a famous stage play but the director simply filmed the stage play? Yeah, it's like that. Foundation is set among multiple planets across the galaxy, but Asimov seemed incapable of grand descriptions (at least, I didn't see any). Just dialogue. If you like the Shakespeare dramas, you might enjoy this Machiavellian type of story, but don't expect anything resembling science fiction as we understand it today.
The book jacket summarizes this 66-year-old book well. It stands up well to the passage of time. The twists and surprises take the story in unexpected and interesting directions. Asimov does not waste much space developing characters. In fact, it seems to me the characters in 'Foundation' take a distinct back seat to the story direction and underlying themes. If you like action-packed Sci-Fi, this book may not be your cup of tea. But if you like big human ideas,themes, or morals; you might want to read this one.
I mean, I love sci-fi, I've read other works like the Urth series which is drastically more vague, complex and tells a winding story. This book I came into blind. The story is spread over several different perspectives which I didn't really have a problem with at first. At the end of the book, I did have problems with it. The first character we read about seems interesting and I was super interested in the whole plot with him, the next couple characters aren't as interesting. We go from someone in power, to someone really in power, to someone not really in power. The point is to give you different perspectives on the main point of the story: the setting. Yet these different perspectives were initially written separately and then later bound together by the author, and I think the disconnect is apparent.
But here's the deal. I just don't care about these characters enough to go beyond that and start caring about the world. In fact, the initial world of Trantor was vastly more interesting than anything else in the book.
Hey, maybe I just didn't get it.
1. It was originally short stories which were later collected into novel form. This means that the scenes feel like they jump around a bit. Sometimes necessarily so (the series spans over millennia, so Asimov can't dwell too long on any particular area).
2. Because of the points mentioned above, it's hard to identify with some of the characters. In general, characters aren't given long to be developed because Asimov needs to move on to the next time period in the history of the Foundation. Just as you're starting to understand a character, their motivations and quirks, they are seldom mentioned again.
Despite this, when stepping back and taking a 10,000 foot view of the series, it's still quite an accomplishment and undeniably transformative for the genre. I have heard that the kindle version is a bit watered down compared to the original, but without a frame of reference it's hard to tell. I'm not a fan on censorship in any form, so it makes me want to seek out the originals as I continue the series.
Top reviews from other countries
Anyone who knows Science Fiction knows that Foundation is a seminal work, one of the great works, an era defining masterpiece of the genre. But what does that mean for the reader now? Does a book written in 1951 still stand up?
Foundation is the story of the collapse of an intergalactic empire and the efforts of a scientific community to preserve and rebuild. It is exactly that ambitious in scope and in never flinches from that. It is creative, engaging, visionary, leaps smoothly from generation to generation and adventure to adventure in a fashion that would make a Marvel movie feel comfortable and is, above all, a bloody good read. It is also jammed packed with some of Asimov’s most quotable lines (the above about violence being my favourite).
There are problems for a modern audience. The endless reference to “atomic” weapons feels quaint rather than threatening. The idea that you might mathematically model future social development based upon predicated behaviour of the masses provided there is no significant influence from individuals feels rather silly now, especially for those of us who have worked in the modelling of crowds: you kind of have to swallow the principles of “psychohistory” as psychobabble and roll with it. Finally, there aren’t any women to be seen. After all, why would women want to have anything to do with this nasty Science nonsense (cough, Bletchly park, cough.) Oh, wait, there’s a wife. She nags a lot.
Still, it was 1951, and if you can look past the stuff that doesn’t make any sense any more this is still a brilliant book and a brilliant read. Most of all, if you want to indulge yourself in the old days when we used to think the smartest and the bravest would win out against the stupidest and most loud, this is a warm balm against the nasty burns you get from watching the news.
I will add that I haven’t read any of the sequels, so there may be a feminist uprising in second foundation that includes a complete revision of psychohistory to embrace the modelling of chaos. But, to be honest, as long as it has more spaceships and smart people I’ll keep reading.
Oh dear, I guess some books don't age well and the eyes of adulthood see them very differently.
It's a classic, but now seems quite dull and dated. The technology of the planets on the edge of the crumbling empire seems laughable. Does Asimov really expect us to believe atomic power is revered as a religion to planetary systems that no longer understand it? The prose is clunky and the politics rather contrived. The book is really quite dull; whatever did I see in it? My fault for revisiting what I recall as a childhood favourite.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on August 13, 2020
Anyone interested in these books would presumably already have some idea of the central idea of psychohistory being used to model future human events and society. It was a revolutionary concept back in the 1950's and even today outside of fiction and in the real world of mathematics and human studies is debated.
There are some who debunk the idea that humans and society can be modelled effectively to understand future events but there is a large body of research that does indicate it's at least partially the case that we can understand future patterns based upon historical evidence. And the truth of that is of course the Coronavirus which has various governments basing their strategy upon the predicted actions of society based upon mathematical models using past information. It's not quite the same but there are certainly parallels that make reading Foundation such an interesting thing.
Now, inevitably having been written in the 1950's the language and some of the social mores are a little quaint compared to modern society. Essentially Asimov reflected the times he lived in and no matter how far thinking - which sci-fi is by it's very nature - it can only be written on the basis of current understanding. I do note another reviewer who takes to task Asimov for not creating more female protagonists which, I find surprising given that in many of his books the stronger lead characters are often women.
Writing style is of course engaging and easy to enjoy which, is something one would expect from a writer of such renown and popularity.
Overall, a masterpiece and one that is still relevant today 60 years on.