Jared Millet's Reviews > Foundation

Foundation by Isaac Asimov
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's review
May 28, 2013

it was amazing
bookshelves: science-fiction, far-future, short-stories, golden-age-sf, re-read
Read in August, 1983

(2013 Asimov Re-Read, book 1)

I enjoyed re-reading E.R.Burroughs so much last summer, that this year I decided to dive into some classic Asimov. Of course, I begin with Foundation. I haven’t read the Foundation novels since high school, and mostly what I remember is the opening story in book 1, then a little bit about the Mule and Arkady from the later volumes, so it’s not quite like coming to it fresh, but its close.

The story is rightfully a classic, and I was amazed how well it still holds up. Yes, there’s the standard pre-50s misunderstanding about what nuclear power is and what it does, but that’s not the point. The point is Asimov’s take on the grand sweep of history: what forces are beyond anyone’s control and what role and value an individual life can make in the grand scheme of things. He trods a lot of the same ground that Frank Herbert would later revisit in Dune, re: the pitfalls and promise inherent in knowing the future too closely, and possibly being trapped by it.

Also, I appreciated the idea he discusses toward the end of Book 1 that the solutions of one era can become the problems of the next, especially if they become enshrined into dogma. (God, how I wish today’s politicians had read Asimov as teenagers instead of Ayn Rand.)

P.S. I’ve spent some time diving back into old pulp these last few years, and you usually have to do that with the understanding that you’re going to have to forgive some really shoddy writing in order to enjoy a good story. Asimov is, in my opinion, the earliest of the 20th Century SF writers (save maybe Bradbury) for whom there’s nothing to forgive. Not that he’s a master stylist or anything, but in comparison to his contemporaries, Asimov’s words slide right off the page with nary a clunk.

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Reading Progress

05/06/2013 marked as: currently-reading
05/28/2013 marked as: read

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