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A THOUSAND YEAR EPIC, A GALACTIC STRUGGLE, A MONUMENTAL WORK IN THE ANNALS OF SCIENCE FICTION FOUNDATION Begins A New Chapter In The Story Of Man S Future As The Old Empire Crumbles Into Barbarism Throughout The Million Worlds Of The Galaxy, Hari Seldon And His Band Of Psychologists Must Create A New Entity, The Foundation Dedicated To Art, Science, And Technology As The Beginning Of A New Empire FOUNDATION AND EMPIRE Describes The Mighty Struggle For Power Amid The Chaos Of The Stars In Which Man Stands At The Threshold Of A New Enlightened Life Which Could Easily Be Destroyed By The Old Forces Of Barbarism SECOND FOUNDATION Follows The Seldon Plan After The First Empire S Defeat And Describes Its Greatest Threat A Dangerous Mutant Strain Gone Wild, Which Produces A Mind Capable Of Bending Men S Wills, Directing Their Thoughts, Reshaping Their Desires, And Destroying The Universe Ok, let s begin with the fact that I tackled this trilogy when I was 12 I m sure that, were I to pick it up once , my appreciation would grow exponentially HOWEVER, as wonderful as Asimov is, he writes like an engineer He s careful and methodical, and the plot that weaves through the Foundation series is unbelievably complex If you ve got the time, and you enjoy Sci fi, go ahead and pick up Prelude and follow Hari s awesome adventure. LoveisForever CHAPTER ONE The Foundation Trilogy By Isaac AsimovINTRODUCTION In my life, there have been three science fiction books series that will always hold special shelf space in my heart s library The first, and the subject of this review, is The Foundation Trilogy by Isaac Asimov Yet, before I begin my history with this extraordinary story, let me briefly mention my other two great loves A Dune The second of these pivotal SF relationships was with Dune, who I first met while in college during my wilder days Dune, being born in 1965, was 5 years my senior when we first hooked up I was so immediately and powerfully smitten with this tail tale that I actually became fearful that I had so completely spun out of control But now is not the time to discuss that relationship as there may be children present I ll just say that Dune, that saucy, talented cougar, took me to heights of ecstasy that I d never before experienced with its richly exotic and poetically descriptive prose, its nuanced characters and its plot as complex as anything I d encountered before Give me just a minute wipes brow Where was I Oh yeahanyway, being less than a literary Casanova at the time, I was only able to read a few pages at a time due to prematurefatigue Later, as my endurance improved, I was able to last for hours before reaching the point of satiation I ll always be grateful to Dune for being my Mrs Robinson and so eloquently teaching me that science fiction literature B Hyperion My third great SF love was Hyperion I first encountered this alluring novel several years after having graduated law school and become established in what is now my life Prior to first laying eyes on this beauty, I honestly thought I was beyond the age of going gaga or experiencing the kind of sweaty palmed, stutter causing, bladder control losing nervousness that I used to feel when I was chasing comic books around the grade school schoolyard Well, I was WRONG When Hyperion showed up on my doorstep with its bodaciously brainy concepts, its gorgeously sensual prose and a plot so stacked and loaded with curves that you could actually hearBOOM CHICKA WAH WAHwhen its pages turned, all I remember was my sweaty hands slipping off the doorknob as I wet myself while falling and gasping HHHe.Hellllloo just as my head hit the floor.Again, since this is not a review of Hyperion, I will save the details of that affair for another time However, I can say that Hyperion currently represents to me the ideal of perfection within the science fiction genre I have never read better and it is the book against which all other science fiction experiences are judged.C Foundation Trilogy Finally, we get to my very first SF love The Foundation Trilogy They say you never forget your first They are right It was The Trilogy that began my life long affair with science fiction Without Asimov s epic space opera, I might never have met Dune or Hyperion and my life would have been the poorer for it Therefore, this series will always hold a special, sentimental place with me Of course, I was very inexperienced when I first awkwardly touched this book and clumsily fingered the first few pages I had no idea what to expect, I only know I was excited I mean there were 3 of them, 3 stories, and only one of me I was petrified that I would be inadequate to the task Later, when I was older and had been with many, many other books don t judge me , I looked back on my initial nervousness and chuckled Heck, this is the kind of experience people write letters about in magazines Anyway, as it turns out, I could not have wished for a better first in the world of science fiction Asimov s tight, straight forward prose took me in hand and gently guided me through the amazing world of the two Foundations Each of the stories that make up The Trilogy are special in their own way and so I ve decided to review each of them separately at a later date Here, I will just summarize the series as a whole.SERIES OVERVIEW The Galactic Empire spans 25 million worlds and has a population of over a quadrillion people FYI, that is 1,000,000,000,000,000 or over 166,000 times the population of Earth It s hugeTWSS The empire is in decline However, only a handful of brilliant scientists can see the collapse coming, thanks to the science of psychohistory created by their leader, Hari Seldon Hari and his group have determined that the empire s demise will lead to 30,000 years of barbarism and have formulated a plan named after Seldon to reduce that dark period to only 1000 years The 3 books in The Trilogy chronicle the formulation and the initial implementation of the Seldon Plan This series is such an amazing way to be introduced to the science fiction genre The prose is uber readable, the pace is lickity split and the stories themselves are full of larger than life characters doing larger than life things It s just highly entertaining, with a feel good vibe that will whet the appetite for Now I would not argue with those that find this work less than compelling when viewed against the complete body of science fiction work out there This does not hold up under scrutiny with subsequent works including both Dune and Hyperion Still, this a terrific starting point for someone new to science fiction and embodies the essence of what grand old space opera is supposed to be Big ideas, larger than life characters and a story packed with smiles FINAL THOUGHTS In conclusion, I d like to say a few words to those who may doubt the depths of my feelings for this book given my literary promiscuity Those who ve seen my currently reading shelf and know that I go through books like the U.S spends money You might think me a bit disingenuous for writing so glowingly about these books in light of my behavior To those who would judge me, let me just say, with all due respect I ll grant that I enjoy a bit of experimentation when it comes to literature, and frequently hook up with other genres, sometimes several at a time However, this practice in no way diminishes my love for science fiction Therefore, please stop your moralizing What Science Fiction and I have is very special and I ll thank you not to point your judgments in our direction 6.0 stars HIGHEST POSSIBLE RECOMMENDATION Winner Hugo Award for Best All Time Series The Foundation Trilogy 1966 Voted onto the Locus List of All Time Best Science Fiction Novel 4th The Foundation trilogy is made up from a series of short stories published between 1942 and 1953 At the dawn of American dominance, Asimov as a fiction writer was inspired to write about decline and fall, rather like Edward Gibbon turned his attention to the end of Rome no sooner had victory in the Seven Years War set the seal on British ascendancy, but with science fiction as his medium.Asimov was fond of locked door murder mysteries and this technique of creating a seemingly impossible situation and resolving it cleverly is one that he used in the Foundation series The resolutions are clever The series is enjoyable for its interest in big questions rather than big battles in spaces with loads of exploding things.But back to locked door mysteries First Asimov locks the door by inventing a concept that he calls psychohistory This is a super science that allows the reasonably precise prediction of the future and this is the basis of the whole set of stories Super scientist Harri Seldon using his magic powers mcguffin technique of psychohistory realises that the Galactic Empire in which he lives, is going to decline and collapse into a horrible galactic dark age in the very near future However he has also calculated that by planting a colony of scientists in a safe spot this dark age can be minimised This Foundation will undergo various ups and downs and existential threats as it grows to create become a future galactic republic, all of which ups and downs are predicted by psychohistory, and by means of a fancy nuclear powered hologram thingamajig, he, Harri Seldon, can broadcast suitably condescending messages to impress the people of the future The door is closed how can the stories be interesting if the results are known and predictable in advance and the key turns in the lock The first solution is that the people of Foundation don t have access to the predictions and so fulfil them unwittingly Then random events do occur particularly in Foundation and Empire , which appear spectacular but don t turn out to have a long term impact Finally it turns out that a super secret cabal of psycho historians had been hidden away to keep the plan on course In the last of these early stories the Foundation becomes aware of this Second Foundation and embarks on a McCarthite witch hunt for them Very much of its time with its fear of infiltration by people with mysterious mental powers think of The Manchurian Candidate , its interest in technology as the under pining of power, and its concern with Imperial rise and fall Since apparently this series went on to influence Newt Gingrich I can only recommend it to careful readers. When Isaac Asimov learned that the World Science Fiction Convention would be giving a special Hugo Award in 1966 for Best All Time Series, he believed that the category had been created specifically to honor J.R.R Tolkien s Lord of the Rings trilogy Indeed, for a modern reader, it s surprising to learn that Asimov s Foundation Trilogy was once so highly revered in the canon of speculative fiction that it beat Tolkien s masterpiece for the prize Such are the fortunes of a genre built on the challenge of looking forward when the future actually arrives, even its greatest masterpieces are left looking like the relics of a hopelessly distant past The Foundation Trilogy is not the greatest multi novel series to emerge from modern science fiction Nor is it, by even a generous assessment, a masterpiece Perhaps the series fared better in a time when the expectations placed upon sci fi writers was that they would produce entertaining pulp when the novelty and intellectual reach of Asimov s ideas could distract from his lacking style By today s standards, however, the work is almost hopelessly inept The premise is this Harry Seldon, the greatest psychologist of the far future, predicts that the Galactic Empire will crumble ala Rome within a few hundred years of his writing Using the science of psychohistory his own invention , he foresees an intellectual Dark Age of approximately 30,000 years following this collapse, but he also calculates that this period can be shortened to a single millennium if the right people are in the right places to keep the flame of knowledge lit Thus, he creates two Foundations, groups that work behind the scenes to keep learning alive through the empire s fall.The story spins bizarrely but predictably from there wars, rumors of war, deranged mutants, psychologists with seemingly supernatural abilities, resolution Asimov s unflinching faith in the potential of science is the real focus throughout In the late 20th and early 21st centuries, we ve come to understand that even closed systems are fundamentally unpredictable over any considerable length of time in Asimov s time, there was still faith that science could predict the future of a galaxy spanning empire over the course of thousands of years The naivety of the late 40s and early 50s, however, is not what prevents The Foundation Trilogy from being the masterpiece it was once considered to be Asimov s plot isn t perfect, but it s functional Rather, the work s real failings are literary The characters are flat, cardboard cutouts of people, the great leaders of one generation virtually indistinguishable from the next women, of course, are almost never to be seen, with the notable exception of a rather likable young heroine in the second part of Second Foundation Nor is there poetry in Asimov s prose instead, there are merely endless pages of expository dialogue occasionally graced with the most meager of descriptions Fundamentally at issue here is the fact that science fiction has earned the right to be considered literature, and that the canonization of works like Foundation serve only as unpleasant reminders of the genre s humble beginnings It is not an altogether terrible work, and certainly worth reading for historical context alone, but advocates of contemporary science fiction can only hope that novels such as these will one day no longer be the standard by which the genre s literary merits are weighed.