Hiro Hamada
Hiro Hamada asked:

Why do I find this extremely confusing and difficult to read? I'm interested in science and math and all, but I can't seem to get through it properly ...

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Tony Stop thinking of it as a modern day book. There is very little character development, which so many people swear by. Don't try to connect to any of his characters. They aren't meant to be connected with. Try reading it as if you were listening to your grandfather tell you a tale. Isaac Asimov's ability to tell an extremely compelling story without the use of dynamic characters is quite literally mind blowing.
Dan Interests in science and math won't help you appreciate this book. An interest in politics, economics, and social science will.

Asimov was one of the "Big Three" creators of modern science fiction (along with Clarke and Heinlein). All of them owe a debt to the editor with the most clout when they were starting out, John W. Campbell, and they all had to write stories in a way that met his demands. Campbell above all else wanted maturer, darker stories written for young adults and adults, not kids. He didn't care that much about science, hard or soft, so long as the author sold it in his (usually not her) story. I mean the man took dianetics seriously, so you know he didn't care about Truth with the capital letter, only internal consistency.

Asimov responded to Campbell's demands early on by upping his game. Rather than emphasizing the cute surprise ending as most of his early works did, and which he had to pretty much sell elsewhere than Campbell's magazines, he wrote bigger and bigger and darker and darker, which suited Campbell and resulted in better and better stories in my opinion, though originally it seemed to go against Asimov's grain.

Foundation is the first work in a really big and dark concept of Asimov's--I mean we're talking about the end of civilization here and millennia of dark ages to follow, oh the horror--that is centered on social science science fiction, not natural science science fiction. Asimov's social science isn't "save the whales" or Avatar's "let's not exterminate the natives" and "we have to value every culture for its contribution" social science you got in high school if you attended it in the 1980s or later. Asimov's social science is the academic study of politics, psychology, economics, history and sociology for the sake of the advancement of mankind. It helps to know something of, or at least have an appreciation for, these subjects already before starting Foundation. Asimov's key concept, psychohistory, might then just blow your mind like it did mine when I first read it. The plot and suspense is centered around the success or failure of Seldon's psychohistory concept, not by any character or particular world's survival.
Suranjana Are you also interested in politics and economics? This book is more about strategies to survive through political and economic turmoil, where science creates an impressive background [in my opinion]. :)
Elise Stone I agree with Tony. Modern books are more character-centric, often to the detriment of story. And it's not about the science and math. I've stopped reading several recent bestselling science fiction stories because they're crammed with showing off science rather than telling a story. This is a plot-driven yarn.
Alex A To be honest, it requires focus. I had trouble when I was distracted or only half paying attention, or interrupted. It is the kind of book one kind of needs to really singularly focus on, and do it all together or in large parts. It is also the kind of book that has its own jargon. Becoming familiar with the jargon makes it easier to track what's happening. Those two things done, help tremendusly with immersion in the story.
Boy Blue This is a plot driven story not a character driven one. You have to accept the premise that psychohistory is a thing and works. Enjoy the scope and scale and remember that the most interesting character is the one that is dead for most of the novel, Hari Seldon. Everyone else are technically just pawns in a game he's already rigged.
Roberta It will make a lot more sense if you read the two prequels first, Prelude to Foundation and Forward the Foundation. I highly recommend reading his introduction in Prelude to Foundation.
Niels Bugge Because it's populated with unengaging cardboard characters and is so utterly predictable that it will bring you to tears
Matti Paalanen I guess its age is shown mainly in that it doesn't have that good rhythm or sense of "whoa, I have to get to the next page and see what happens" but it makes it up in broad perspective. For me the strength of the Foundation series lies in the world it creates and the larger concept behind the storyline - Asimov has managed to build and create quite believable and enjoyable "what if" future for mankind. What it lacks in character depth it makes up in plot with it's twists and turns and epic scale. Maybe I started to value it more only after I had read it through. In the middle I wasn't really sure how much I'd enjoy it after finishing it. I guess it's quite a rare book in that sense.
Emma It's a story about ideas, history and politics.
Annoy Sc Yup, it's all about the story... and the characters you will fall in love without even noticing ;)
Kumari de Silva This book is written in the style of 5 short stories, with the conceit that the encyclopedia is real - the book includes excerpts from the fictitious encyclopedia. So it's supposed to feel like you are reading a history (at least for the first two stories.) Have you tried listening to is as an audiobook? The entire thing is available for free on YouTube., it might help to look at the book in print at the same time you are listening
Povilas hah exactly opposite is my feeling regarding this book! It was so simple and easily readable. What I consider 'difficult' sci-fi is Herbert's 'DUNE'. Now that is colossal scale and multilayered book.. Definitely needing more than one read-through.
Rick Well, there's no math or science in it. Not really. It's about "psychohistory" which is an attempt to claim that political science is an enormously complicated yet predictable science.
I think his robots stories have aged with a bit more grace. His political theories are stuck in the 1950s.
Joel McKinnon Hi Hiro. I came up with the idea of doing a podcast adaptation of this book exactly for people like you, and also because I just love the story and wanted to stay with it a lot longer. I do a half hour to an hour on each chapter, combining storytelling, commentary, and dramatic recreation of key bits of dialog to give the listener an engaging way of understanding the story and explaining its relevance in today's world. Please go to https://seldoncrisis.transistor.fm and give an episode a try.
Mozzzca It's kind of hard to get used to the long leaps between each step of the foundation, and to let go of the characters when you're getting attached to them. But at the end of the book, I was not only used to it, but also loving this style. I missed it on the follow ups.
Kevin Trainor Dan hit the high spots, but I also want to add that these were not written as complete novels - instead, they were published as short stories and later "fixed up" to be a coherent novel. Some people find this jarring.
David Meditationseed I found it boring. many characters without deepening, much talk. It seems like those weekend raining, you in an isolated house, with a lot of boring people telling endless stories and you get nowhere to run.
George Hong the reason is: there were no science fiction novels back in the 1950s. Asimov had to submit stories to monthly science fiction magazines. that means he had to aim a story at readers who could only read one chapter at a time. have you seen the Foundation TV series in 2021? it takes the time to fill out all the details you don't have room for in a monthly magazine shared with other writers.
Chris Rigby It's not well-written, unless you vastly prefer plot to characterisation (of which there is little). It's also now very dated indeed (in one of the trilogy - set many thousands of years in the future - one of the characters lives on a distant planet as a child in a suburban home with a coloured maid!).

To be honest, you'd be far better off exploring Robert Heinlein, who was a much much better writer.
Timo Toivonen Because it is extremely confusing and difficult to read, and also happens to be overrated.
Nathan This is not an answer, but more of a response to the original post, regarding character development. I read this book right after finishing Haruki Murakami's Norwegian Wood. It is somewhat novel ( pun intended) to compare these two books, but the difference in character development is striking. Asimov introduces new characters solely to advance the plot and although I'm only at the beginning of the second book in this trilogy, I can see the point is to introduce and study this massive concept of empire building. Murakami's books technically have a plot but the characters are the real subjects and his development of them is incredibly extensive. Perhaps on the same scale as Asimov's plot development...
Dony Look beyond what you see - Rafiki (circa 1994)
Ray HIRO I AGREE WITH TONY 100% oops caps sorry... yea character development back in the 1950's and 60's was not looked at as a nessecery thing back them.....
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