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General Science Fiction > Should I read Asimov's Foundation Series in publication or chronological order?

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message 1: by Ryan (new)

Ryan Morton (ryanmorton) | 3 comments Asimov suggests chronological, but the books achieved acclaim via publication order. I'm torn, but I want to read the series. Thoughts?


message 2: by Jim (last edited Sep 07, 2020 11:20AM) (new)

Jim  Davis | 216 comments I've read all of Asimov's SF that I know of and some of it twice and a few even 3 times. I am 73 and have been reading Asimov for 60 years. Unfortunately I didn't read them in any particular order other then the original Foundation trilogy. There is a big break between the earlier stories which were written in the 40's and 50's and when he resumed the series in 1982.

That means I would have read the novels or collections of short stories that made up his 3 inter-related universes - the Robot Series, the Foundation Series and the Galactic Series prior to 1982. In the novels he wrote between 1982 and 1993 he attempted to iron out the inconsistencies in the 3 series and meld them into one overall concept.

You only mention the Foundation Series although I think you should read all 3 as they do, for the most part, fit into one overarching story. But if you want to stick to just the Foundation Series my recommendation would be to read them in the published order.

There are several reasons for this. Even tough Asimov wrote 2 prequels to the series in the 1980's he wrote these with the expectation that most readers would be familiar with the original trilogy from the 50's. In essence reading prequels that were written 30 years later does nothing to enhance the reading of the original trilogy.

The other reason I suggest reading them in publication order is because of the changes in scientific knowledge and social norms in that 30 year period. If you read the 2 prequels and then go back to the original Foundation (which is really a mash-up of 5 short stories written between 1942 and 1950) it will seem more dated than if you began there in the first place. I would like to reiterate that reading the prequels will not provide any information that adds to reading the original trilogy for the first time.

My final recommendation would be to read all 3 series in their published order or better yet, in the order they were actually written. While the connections between the 3 won't seem obvious then it will start to gel later.

I, Robot - (1940 to 1950)
Foundation - (1944 to 1951)
Foundation and Empire - (1945 to 1952)
Second Foundation - (1948 to 1953)
Pebble in the Sky - (1950)
The Stars, Like Dust - (1951)
The Currents of Space - (1952)
The Caves of Steel - (1954)
The Naked Sun - (1957)
The End of Eternity * - (1955)
The Complete Robot ** - (1940 to 1977)
Foundation's Edge - (1982)
Foundation and Earth - (1986
Nemesis * - (1989)
Prelude to Foundation - (1988)
Forward the Foundation - (1993)

* The books marked with an asterisk means they only have a small connection to the 3 main series.

** "The Complete Robot" contains earlier stories from "I, Robot" that you can skip while just reading the ones written after 1950.

The earlier books with a date range means they are either a collection of short stories or a mash-up using previously written stories.


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