Top critical review
Badly dated and rather boring
Reviewed in the United States on September 6, 2020
I read it because Apple is turning it into a TV series. It will be interesting to see what they do with this dated material. Many sci-fi classics from the 1950s & 60s do not carry forward very well in our modern times. Foundation is one of those. I'll give 3 reasons.
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.