Donovan's Reviews > Foundation

Foundation by Isaac Asimov
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Oct 25, 07

Recommended for: history and science students
Read in February, 2007

I enjoyed the first book because its theories were new and intriguing. The second book just waded about, repeating itself, with a mutant variable thrown in. I liked the third book because it felt like something actually happened. It’s as if the first book is the word problem, the second book is the solving of it, and the third is the answer. I wonder if he intended this to be a trilogy when he started or the long series that it became. Asimov didn’t ever really write a novel with any of it. It’s all a collection of novellas and short stories. It feels like he more wanted a vehicle for his brilliant idea of psychohistory and his analogy of large populations of people behaving like the particles in quantum mechanics; he found it in writing.

His analogy is a very good one. When the Second Foundationer says, “The laws of Psychohistory are statistical in nature and are rendered invalid if the actions of individual men are not random in nature. If a sizable group of human beings learned of key details of the Plan, their actions would no longer be random in the meaning of the axioms of Psychohistory,” [pg.127] all I could think about was how subatomic particles behave differently when they are being observed, the whole Schrödinger's cat thing.

As for being deserving of its role as a “Top 50” trilogy, I will cast my vote to yes. I recently had a discussion/argument with my friend Tasneem over our influences as adolescents. She claimed Dune to be of a larger impact than the Star Wars trilogy. While I disagree, I also have to say that I didn’t ever read Dune which I am currently remedying. My point is that I see the influence of the Foundation trilogy in Star Wars. City/Capital planets mechanized and built up until no bare earth remains, planets consisting of one ecology or one resource, hyperspace travel, the Empire, etc. Even the mental powers of the Second Foundationers can be seen as a stepping off point for the Force. It felt like reading the skeleton for the universe Star Wars was built upon; so in my book that marks it as being very significant and I am content with it’s placement despite my personal disinterest in the middle section of the trilogy.

Also, I noticed in book 1 that there were no women characters. There was a secretary once mentioned offhand and then that jewelry-hoarder at the end. My theory would be that, despite attempting to look to the future, Mr. Asimov assimilated his contemporary culture into the wilds of space. I've still only read the first book; so it's hard to know if this is a theme throughout.

I'd say it's on the list because it was, I assume, one of the first books to propose intergallactic colonization and deal with the socioeconomics there of.
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John Maurice You have some very keen insights.

Asimov originally wrote the first book as a series of small stories. He was completely lost in the beginning of the second book, and cites a conversation on a bridge with a close friend as the only reason why he kept going.
He had no idea it would be a trilogy.

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