Terence's Reviews > Foundation

Foundation by Isaac Asimov
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Nov 17, 10

bookshelves: sf-fantasy, audio-books
Recommended for: Asimov fans, SF Classics completists
Read in November, 2010, read count: Too many to count

For a certain generation of SF readers, Foundation is one of those canonical texts that have to be read if you're to be considered a true "believer."

Not so much so today.

And that's not a bad thing. Foundation is hopelessly naive and simplistic and so much a product of the '50s - and there's so much more sophisticated and interesting SF out there (including some contemporaneous authors) - that you won't miss out if you never crack its cover.

If I were an SF virgin, Foundation would merit, at most, 2 stars. Its 3-star rating here is another nostalgic homage to my youth. I devoured the 3-volume omnibus edition time and time again when I was young, and the story and dialog is nearly as familiar to me as The Lord of the Rings or classic Star Trek. And, to be fair, consider that the stories found in the first volume were written when Asimov was in his twenties. I think we're sometimes misled by our image of him as the mature, gray-haired polymath who wrote hundreds of books on an astonishing range of fictional and nonfictional topics. I can only wish that I had written a seminal SF novel before I was thirty.

If you are a completist and want to learn more about the Foundation, out of the many Foundation novels that have emerged in the 60 years since first publication, I would recommend the original trilogy - Foundation, Foundation and Empire and Second Foundation - skip Asimov's and the hard SF sequels by Brin and Bear, and read Donald King's Psychohistorical Crisis (which is a brilliant example of what a better author could do with the subject). And check out Mark Rosenfelder's two essays on psycho-history and the Foundation series at Zompist.com.

Strictly related to this audio CD version: Scott Brick is OK as narrator but he doesn't do voices and his delivery is anemic; I was constantly thinking to myself how much better I could have read the lines.
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Martha (new)

Martha Thanks for this take. I too have always viewed the Foundation trilogy as canonical, but there's no doubt that Asimov's writing and characters are stiff and unnatural. But he's the one who gave us the 3 laws of robotics; for that alone he deserves eternal renown. I will have a look at Psychohistorical Crisis.


message 2: by Tia (new) - rated it 3 stars

Tia As a "completist," I felt pretty much the same way. I grew up reading Bradbury, with my dad over my shoulder telling me that I would "graduate" to Asimov. I have, and, unfortunately, he's dated.


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