Ken-ichi's Reviews > Foundation

Foundation by Isaac Asimov
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Apr 13, 09

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bookshelves: escape, science-fiction
Read in April, 2009

An amusing read, but I think I still prefer Brin and Simmons when it comes to epic space opera. Probably the most interesting thing about this book (and, I assume, the rest of the series) is the millennia-spanning time scale of its narrative, which Asimov handles by establishing Hari Seldon's statistical prophesy, and then dropping in at critical junctures to investigate how individuals contrive to fulfill that prophecy. It's kind of a fun model, always knowing the general direction of the plot without knowing the detail, a bit like reading the last page first. It can also be dull, contradictory, and occasionally unpleasant. There isn't that much suspense when you can always know Seldon is going to end up correct, and the in the end the Foundation will end up ushering in the Renaissance. Asimov's characters also aren't all that likable, or human. They're like strategic robots, avatars the author can inhabit to explain the brilliance of the little political puzzle he's concocted.

It's also slightly ridiculous that in a universe where computational power is so great as to statistically model the destiny of civilizations with great accuracy, we are asked to believe that individual wills and intellects are responsible for shepherding these statistical trends. Characters are always saying, "Oh, it's a Seldon crisis, we should make sure we don't screw this up." Of course they won't screw it up.

This is also a universe of white guys. I'm not against books about white guys, and I don't think every book needs to have a sympathetic, fully-realized representative of every socio-sexual-political-racial identity, but I don't love books about boring, soulless white guys in which all the other humans are pointedly idiotic. I think there is one woman in the entire book, and she's a petulant, impotent princess who's easily impressed by fancy jewelry. I guess it's not really a book about people.

Anyway, a decent read, though I'm not feeling particularly compelled to read the next. Should I?
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Reading Progress

04/06/2009 page 75
37.5%
04/07/2009 page 105
52.5% "There sure is a lot of radiation in this book."

Comments (showing 1-11 of 11) (11 new)

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message 1: by Otis (new) - added it

Otis Chandler Nice! I kinda want to read this too. Should we make it the GR bookclub book?


Ken-ichi Well, that would be mighty convenient for me. I can already hear Elizabeth groaning, though...


Jessica Donaghy And convenient for me! I've read it!


Michael Economy i heard it on book tape like 5 years ago, so i'm kinda rusty.


Darren Dieter wrote: "great review, exactly my feelings"

Ditto


Marlene I couldn't agree more. It took me a while to finish this book because it was so dull and characters lacked dimension. I remember reading Asimov as a child and loving some of his short stories but as a novelist I think I'll pass. It was a somewhat entertaining read considering he's a bio-chemist. ;) In any case, this book was too political in ways that were not disguised sufficiently to entertain as one would expect in sci-fi. Quite a bore.


Benjamin Uke Marlene wrote: "I couldn't agree more. It took me a while to finish this book because it was so dull and characters lacked dimension. I remember reading Asimov as a child and loving some of his short stories but a..."

True, but it's oldschool scifi what do you expect? the science-fiction from the 1950s was designed to inspire than entertain with the characters acting as a foil for the ideas being demonstrated. It was only until stuff like Star Wars came out that science fiction as entertainment really started to hit the market.


Jesse Hi, Ken-ichi. I really liked your review. Foundation was my first experience with space opera. I saw that you prefer Brin and Simmons. I wonder if you wouldn't mind recommending a book or two from each author. I'd like tor read some more.


Ken-ichi I haven't read either in a long time, but certainly try Hyperion. For Brin, I really enjoyed the Uplift series (starting with Sundiver), but again, that was me minus 12 years or so, and not everyone likes talking animals. For something more current you might try Leviathan Wakes.


message 10: by Ben (new) - rated it 4 stars

Ben Myhre Just curious, I get that there are females missing from this book, but why are they white?


Ken-ichi Frankly I don't remember enough about the book to tell you why I wrote that, but perhaps I was being unconsciously racist myself. Apologies.


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