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Book-Buddy Club > [BBC] - Foundation by Isaac Asimov

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message 1: by Anna (last edited Aug 02, 2014 03:37PM) (new)

Anna Erishkigal (annaerishkigal) This is the Book Buddy Club discussion thread for Foundation by Isaac Asimov.

Foundation (Foundation, #1) by Isaac Asimov Isaac Asimov

Go forth, Space Opera Fans, and discuss Isaac Asimov's great work in bare-knuckled, spoilery heaven :-)

Remember, use spoiler .html to hide the most egregious spoilers, but anybody who lurks in this thread ... you've been warned :-) Thar' be spoilers here!!!

< spoiler > and < /spoiler >


message 2: by James (new)

James Latimer Yeah, so I re-read this recently and the thing that really struck me was the almost-complete absence of women. I had to start imagining some of the characters as women just to get through...


message 3: by Chase (new)

Chase Hebb (stonegullet) | 10 comments I've always wanted to read this book. I never have.


message 4: by Betsy (new)

Betsy | 880 comments Mod
I guess I don't understand what a Book Buddy is. Why do we need another thread to discuss Foundation when we already have one under the BOTM folder?


message 5: by Packi (last edited Aug 06, 2014 07:18PM) (new)

Packi | 106 comments I've written a review here. Be aware of spoilers though.


message 6: by Anna (new)

Anna Erishkigal (annaerishkigal) Betsy wrote: "I guess I don't understand what a Book Buddy is. Why do we need another thread to discuss Foundation when we already have one under the BOTM folder?"

Hi Betsy! The thread down here is if you want to discuss the book with spoilers ... which is why it's all the way DOWN at the bottom of the listings. The spoiler .html can hide the worst of it, but people tend to get sloppy in BBC. It's just to give you guys a place to chat/spoiler away without spoiling the fun for people who DO NOT like any spoilers whatsoever.

[*kinda like you have two camps of Game of Thrones fans ... people who have read the books ... and people who don't want to find out until they see it happen in the television show*]


message 7: by Jonathan (last edited Aug 08, 2014 08:42AM) (new)

Jonathan (jsharbour) Lots of spoilers here so I'm not going to mark them. Don't continue if you plan to read the book...

I first read the trilogy as a teen in the 80s and was hooked on the simple, direct writing style of Asimov. He's a very easy author to read. His mysteries and plot twists are always a surprise, though, and difficult to predict. I was most interested in this book due to being a big fan of Star Wars. George Lucas borrowed some ideas here--Coruscant might as well be another name for Trantor. There's an emperor but he's inept, unlike the scary Palpatine. Asimov's Galactic Empire seems to be bound together with an economic web, like Lucas' Republic before the fall. And as for the fall, yes, that also was borrowed from Asimov.

When the empire fell into chaos (the key plot point), Hari Seldon's Foundation was meant to stave off the inevitable dark age that would follow, by preserving human culture and knowledge through the barbaric period and come out of it much more quickly. Asimov was basing his empire of Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (Gibbon). Lucas based his Star Wars epic on the period just before the fall, after the golden age had ended, but before the collapse (when Rome was sacked by barbarians).

What I enjoyed most was the way the Foundationers had advanced technology a century after the fall of Trantor, and the "barbarian" warlords in the star systems near the Foundation at first fought over the planet, wanting their technology, and when defeated, the Foundationers were held in awe thereafter, treated like wizards or priests of holy knowledge. I enjoyed that and felt it was the highlight of the story.

Continuing on to the next novel, Foundation and Empire, I really didn't care for this one at all, because I didn't like the Mule character. I get that he was a mutant, introducing the concept of what would be the Second Foundation, but Asimov went in a strange direction with the Mule. The story unfolds in the third novel and I found the conclusion to be quite satisfying--there is a very good payoff in the end!

Following that, on to Foundation's Edge, written some 35 years later, 1982 I believe, is a topic for another thread, but Asimov begins to weave his Robot novels into the main plot, culminating with Foundation and Earth and Robots and Empire (robot series). These stories are fantastic. I loved the search for the fabled origin of humanity--the world called Earth. That was simply awesome and it reminds me that I do intent to read the series again this year, after 25 years. Looking forward to it.


message 8: by Packi (new)

Packi | 106 comments Maybe the books have to be read together. Otherwise I feel the first book is pretty poor as a standalone. I really left the book thinking to myself what the point of all that was.

I've read other reviews where they say if you read it in your teens you're loving it for the rest of you life, but if you read it as an adult the weak spots are too many to overlook. Maybe that’s my problem with the book.

You know that feeling that you have when you don't care for something most people like. It makes me curious. What's it all about.


message 9: by Betsy (new)

Betsy | 880 comments Mod
Anna wrote: " The thread down here is if you want to discuss the book with spoilers ... which is why it's all the way DOWN at the bottom of the listings."

The thing is, it's not down at the bottom of the listings for me. It's constantly showing up on my homepage, which is where I like to check on group posts.


message 10: by Anna (new)

Anna Erishkigal (annaerishkigal) Betsy wrote: "The thing is, it's not down at the bottom of the listings for me. It's constantly showing up on my homepage, which is where I like to check on group posts..."

Unfortunately I have no control over how Goodreads sets up your homepage, Betsy. :-( I can visibly shuffle things around inside this community or direct you to your own community settings page to adjust your email settings, but I don't know how to fix your homepage problem. I flagged the Book Buddy Club discussion with the [BBC] icon before the title 'Foundation' because that makes it easier to ignore. Sorry...


message 11: by Ken (new)

Ken Doggett (kendoggett) | 57 comments I think the homepage just keys on the comments made by friends. If one of your friends reveals the ending to "Foundation," you'll get to read it on your homepage.


message 12: by Kate (new)

Kate | 4 comments James wrote: "Yeah, so I re-read this recently and the thing that really struck me was the almost-complete absence of women. I had to start imagining some of the characters as women just to get through..."

I totally agree, I was 75% through and like, whoa no women...Not even women who are poorly portrayed.


message 13: by Anna (new)

Anna Erishkigal (annaerishkigal) I read it so long ago it's all fuzzy, but now that y'all mention it ... yeah ... no women ... though he corrected that when he got to Foundation & Earth as that book has a fairly strong female protagonist. I think it's a matter of Asimov being a writer of his time, and as times changed, he gradually started incorporating stronger women into his writing.


message 14: by Whitney (new)

Whitney (whitneychakara) | 53 comments So I don't know if you know this I believe one of the writers of DS9 is writing the script for foundation (last I heard but they do re-writes so often he may have been replaced) it will be interesting to see what they have to add in order to get some women characters because we are some of the biggest consumers and they need us to make the movie profitable.


message 15: by Whitney (new)

Whitney (whitneychakara) | 53 comments hmmm is it possible that there are less women in this future society or that they just don't hold any positions of power. Thats interesting I never even thought about there were no females I just read for the sciencey stuff.


message 16: by Rion (new)

Rion  (orion1) | 108 comments Wait what? No women. Hmmm, I do remember a women being important in Second Foundation. But I guess you're right no real main women characters. They were all mostly just supporting and completely static.


message 17: by James (new)

James Parsons | 7 comments Recently I have seen a good few people being very negative about the Foundation series, and a few of their comments probably do make sense. Like other similar authors and books from those years ago, the Foundation books by now may seem to be very quaint, possibly dated in a number of ways.
Even with those kind of comments, I think the first Foundation book and the series are special and unique and offer a kind of science fiction future and structure which has rarely been given. There are problems with it, but beyond that it really seemed to have inspired so much more fiction, film and SF tv ever since.


message 18: by Whitney (new)

Whitney (whitneychakara) | 53 comments No body said it didn't however as we are reading this at a later time than when it was published we still will have comments on things like that its only natural. Also, there will be those who read it and are turned away because of it and thats okay its their right. right?


message 19: by Dominic (new)

Dominic Green (dominicgreen) | 68 comments Rion wrote: "Wait what? No women. Hmmm, I do remember a women being important in Second Foundation. But I guess you're right no real main women characters. They were all mostly just supporting and completely st..."

Asimov could do female characters - take a look at Susan Calvin if you don't believe me. He was best at female characters who resembled his male characters (i.e., bookish, hyperintelligent and socially awkward). I certainly don't think Asimov failed to write female characters because he was a gender fascist. I remember a quote from a comment he wrote on one of his short stories that explains the situation perfectly - I can't remember it perfectly, but I'll paraphrase it as 'I am absolutely certain that, no matter how clever I am and how charming my conversation, a man with a chiselled jaw and muscles will always do far better than I with the opposite sex'. Certainly in his early writing in particular, I get a sense that he's quite a shy man who spends most of his time with other male sci-fi nerds. That, more than anything, would lead to a difficulty in fleshing out believable female characters - and it's a malaise that most of 1940s / 1950s SF suffers from.


message 20: by Rion (new)

Rion  (orion1) | 108 comments By no means was I convicting Asimov as being a "gender fascist" in a broad sense. I was being specific in regards to the book The Foundation. Perhaps in I, Robot, Susan Calvin is a much better supporting character. However if you are a person who tends to prosecute all writers who have a gender bias, then The Foundation would be guilty of gender dereliction and therefore something they wouldn't want to read. Me personally, to each their own. I understand what you are pointing out about Asimov's character and personal experiences playing a large part in his writing. And yet, these character flaws are things that could make another reader cringe while reading, and feel like it's lacking and antiquated.


message 21: by Dominic (new)

Dominic Green (dominicgreen) | 68 comments Rion wrote: "By no means was I convicting Asimov as being a "gender fascist" in a broad sense. I was being specific in regards to the book The Foundation. Perhaps in I, Robot, Susan Calvin is a muc..."

Yes, granted - but it was always going to be antiquated. He started writing it in 1942. There are some writers who stand the test of time a lot better - George Bernard Shaw, for example, was writing powerful female characters in the 19th century. A lot of the time, Shaw's work doesn't feel 'dated' to us because we simply don't understand how shocking *Saint Joan* or *Major Barbara* would have been to Victorian audiences.


message 22: by Stephen (last edited Nov 09, 2015 04:43PM) (new)

Stephen Renneberg (stephenrenneberg) | 16 comments When I was a teenager I read a collection of Asimov's short stories. In that collection, he mentioned the foundation series. It arose when he was on the train in New York heading in to meet the publisher of the SF mag he wrote stories for and he came up with it so he had something to discuss with the guy. He mentioned a couple of interesting things.

1) The idea was based on the fall of the Roman Empire.

2) There are no aliens in the book because this was around the time of world war II and the rise of the nazis with their racial superiority mindset. Also Asimov suspected the publisher had a hint of superiority of Americans over others. Both attitudes made him uncomfortable, so he decided on an all human universe to avoid racial conflicts.

In terms of female characters, I believe there was a female character in one of the stories, a young girl. I don't think he was a gender fascist, more likely a young man with limited experience with women at the time, so he wrote what he knew.


message 23: by C. John (new)

C. John Kerry (cjkerry) | 494 comments Just for the record the editor in question would have been John W. Campbell who was the editor of Astounding (now Analog) at that time. Although Asmimov appeared elsewhere Astounding was his primary market and got his best stuff. Other magazines had to content themselves with Astounding rejects. From some of his editorials one could get the impression that Campbell was at least a borderline racist, but he also like to play 'devil's advocate' so one can never be really sure about him.
Asimov's first marriage took place in 1942 and that one lasted until 1973 (they divorced) and he immediately married again. As far as I know his second marriage lasted until his death.
I read the Foundation books years ago (in high school to be specific) and I can honestly say that I never noticed if there was a lack of female characters or not. Since I read both the Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden books I certainly had no problem with strong female characters. I just didn't care what a character's gender was as long as I enjoyed the story.


message 24: by R. (new)

R. Billing (r_billing) | 196 comments I think we are talking about the wonderful Arcadia Darrell. Asimov did, in the notes for one of the Venus stories, say that his knowledge of women was limited.


message 25: by Stephen (new)

Stephen Renneberg (stephenrenneberg) | 16 comments Yes, that's it. Acadia. And it was also John W. Campbell I was thinking of.

My favorite character in that series was the Mule. Very clever idea to throw out Seldon's plan. Great twist.


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