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Prelude to Foundation by Isaac Asimov
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's review
Jul 04, 12

really liked it

Most sci-fi founds have read the Foundation series from beginning to end. I was a late-comer to sci-fi and have only just finished reading most of the series. The first Foundation novels, written much earlier than the later ones, weren’t that appealing to me, despite their status as classic novels. I found them hard to read and a bit dull. (Shame on me, I know, but I’m not a diehard Asimov fan). Why then did I continue? Well, I happened to read “The Caves of Steel,” and I liked it a lot. Trantor was a fascinating place and R. Daneel was a great character. So, I was literally sucked in.

I feel sad that I’ve almost finished the entire series. “Prelude to Foundation” was a good book in the classic Asimovian style. Lots of dialogue, swiftly moving pace, a mystery that has to be solved, and plenty of humourous situations. Not many people seem to comment on the humour in Asimov, but it is one of the most appealing aspect of these novels for me. Hari Seldon is a bit of a goof. There’s a terribly funny scene in which a woman from Mycogen approaches him sexually and goes ballistic about his seductive hair. Hari falls for it and is partially flattered, partially horrified and disgusted. It’s amusing. So are the skull caps the Mycogens wear and Seldon’s foolish belief that he and Dors are not recognized as foreigners in Mycogen. In fact, Seldom is fooled over and over again. But he’s a likeable guy, and he figures out what’s going on in the end. I think Asimov liked foolish, vain and stubborn men. Seldon, in fact, reminds me of a few of Anthony Trollope’s very, very stubborn foolish male characters, who “know what is right” and don’t have a clue most of the time.

Asimov also gives us some neat minor characters: Seldon’s protector, Dors, is a fantasy fighter who can easily wield two large knives at once; The Mayor of Wye turns out to be a big surprise, and most interesting and surprising of all is King Cleon’s advisor, who plays a more important role than we at first realize.

This book is fun reading. I recommend it to all. But don’t read this one first. Get an Asimov expert to instruct you on the best method of reading all these novels. The order is significant, and I’m glad that a friend plotted my way for me!

Here are the books that comprise Asimov’s universe:

1. The Complete Robot (includes every story of I, Robot)
2. The Caves of Steel
3. The Naked Sun
4. The Robots of Dawn
5. Robots and Empire
6. The Currents of Space
7. The Stars, Like Dust--
8. Pebble in the Sky 9. Prelude to Foundation
10. Forward the Foundation
11. Foundation
12. Foundation and Empire
13. Second Foundation
14. Foundation's Edge
15. Foundation and Earth

Books 1 to 5 are the Robot series and Books 6-8 are his Empire series. Books 9 to 15 are his complete Foundation series. Paul Darcy advised me to read “Prelude to Foundation” after Foundation’s Edge, which I did. He believes that the “Prelude” gives away too much if you read it first, even though it chronologically precedes the Foundation series. As I said, get someone who knows (and remembers) the novels to direct you through them.

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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Luffy (new)

Luffy I used to worship Asimov, based only on his short stories. Tried to read the first foundation novel, but couldn't finish it. I've been averse to scifi after trying Asimov and Arthur Clarke. I mean, if THEY aren't my cup of tea, then this genre isn't for me. Your review was epic though!

Carol Thanks for your kind comments, Luffy! I wrote that review when I had a lot more time - now I'm busier with various projects, so less time for interesting reviews.

Arthur C. Clarke and company have never been my cup of tea. Asimov is the only sci-fi writer I really enjoyed, and it's mostly because of the strong mystery element in his books.

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