John's Reviews > Foundation

Foundation by Isaac Asimov
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May 29, 12

Read in May, 2012

As neither a big fiction reader nor a sci fi fan I can only put my reading of Foundation down to the need to spend my monthly audible credit and an imminent long car journey. I'd hesitate to say these circumstances were providential but it did offer quite a bit in the way of diversion.

I gather it's said that nothing defines a period like its view of the future (or something like that). For Foundation this is only partly true. The technology already feels dated certainly. The fastest form of communication is apparently a message capsule coming down a tube and the pinnacle of energy generation is nuclear power (to be fair the jury is still out on that one). Much to my suprise though the themes were less stuck in the 1940s and 50 and there were not heavy handed allusions to the Cold War. Instead we get the far more ancient, and simultaneously far more contemporary seeming, Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire in space.

Most of the fall happens off stage and instead we get the travails of the Foundation, a colony set up to preserve knowledge and technology, and ultimately, save the galaxy (or Europe as one can't help but think of it) from a kind of Visigoth/ Anglo-Saxon decline of 30 millennia. Much of the narritive drive comes from the whiles of a series of poorly differentiated leaders who seem most akin to American political bosses from the late 19th century.It's a funny beast though because all of the outcomes are apparently forseen by the scientists of the late Empire who set the colony up.

All in all making you want to read (or listen) on is a tricky conceit to pull off. While the shorter narratives that make this up don't quite achive a grand whole Asimov was clearly a crafty short story writer who deservedly has some kind of reputation beyond a science fiction genre/ geeky ghetto.
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