Originally Reviewed 1/26/2016 – revised on 3/19/2016
Foundation by Isaac Asimov
First Book review of 2016
I rarely read fiction (outside of Bernie Sanders campaign literature). This is the first in quite a while, but it is actually a re-read. I first found the “Foundation” series by Asimov back in the mid-1980s. Despite being about ‘sciencey’ topics, good Science Fiction is always about the characters. Asimov knew how to write fantastic characters with believable motivations and actions. I found the stories as fresh and enjoyable now as I did when I was 15. Probably moreso.
The premise is basically that a 12000 year old empire is winding down and is destined to enter a 30000 year dark age before being replaced with a new one. Hari Seldon, via ‘Psychohistorics’, has found a way to shorten that time to 1000 years. The Foundation is begun so that it will be the catalyst for the changes necessary for the re-emergence of the empire. This first novel is a recounting of several major crisis that this Foundation endures and the clever maneuvering of the people who lead through them.
As a kid, I immediately loved the starships and galactic reach of the story. As an adult, it is the mindset of everyone involved that fascinates me. There is an intrinsic assumption that a Galactic Empire is actually a GOOD thing and that people would want it to return, once it had decayed. The main question I kept thinking is that the whole enterprise is wrong headed to begin with. You can’t have real freedom in an Empire; haven’t we learned that from Star Wars? Or at least from Murray Rothbard?
But you can’t enjoy good literature if you can’t suspend disbelief or reality long enough to mentally inhabit the fictional universe. When you do that, Foundation stands as one of the great and classic works of Science Fiction.