Jamie's Reviews > Foundation and Empire

Foundation and Empire by Isaac Asimov
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's review
Aug 20, 2008

liked it

Isaac Asimov's Foundation series is often cited amongst the nerdegalian as the best sci-fi series evar. It's set, as you may guess, far into the future where a man discovers that Rome ...uh, I mean The Galactic Empire is fated to collapse and bring about 30,000 years of barbarism unless certain actions are taken to start a long chain of events, the first of which is to create a kind of galactic Wikipedia. I'm not normally a fan of hard science fiction, and reading this trilogy kind of reminds me of why.

It actually has a lot of what I DO like about sci-fi: insightful ideas about human nature, epic plots, and heroes who solve problems through logic, science, and good old-fashioned wits. I also like the idea of Asimov's psychohistory, which is like what the "soft" sciences of psychology, sociology, and economics would be if they were advanced over thousands of years and distilled down to almost pure mathematics to the point where they could predict the actions of entire societies over hundreds or even thousands of years. That's a pretty dang cool idea.

Unfortunately, this trilogy also has, in spades, many of the things I don't typically like about sci-fi, especially well aged sci-fi: poor characterization, bizarre pacing that skitters forward hundreds of years at a time, and a jarring failure to predict inventions like computers, the Internet, or genetic engineering that would all make several plot points strange at best and inexplicable at worst. The latter really can't be helped, but it is kind of offsetting to see characters stymied by situations a personal computer or cel phone would solve.

There are approximately fifteen thousand other books set in the Foundation universe, but I'm not in any hurry to read them. This was a nice change of pace and the books are short, but it's the kind of thing I have to take in moderate doses.

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