Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Foundation by Issac Asimov

My book for July was Foundation by Issac Asimov. I started reading it after one of the members of Sharon's book club suggested it for their August book. Although I remember very little about it, I read the book almost 40 years ago, probably sometime between 1979 and 1984.

Foundation is a cycle of five interrelated short stories. It was first published almost seventy years ago as a single book by Gnome Press in 1951. Four of the five stories were published in Astounding Science Fiction magazine between 1942 and 1944 under different titles. It is the first book in what was originally a trilogy.

In July 2012, io9 included the book on its list of "10 Science Fiction Novels You Pretend to Have Read". In 1966 the Foundation trilogy won the prestigious Hugo Award for All-Time Best Series. In 2018, the opening chapter "The Encyclopedists" won a retrospective 1943 Hugo Award for the Best Novelette of the preceding year.

Collectively, the stories tell the early history of the Foundation, an institute founded by psychohistorian Hari Seldon to preserve the best of galactic civilization after the collapse of the Galactic Empire. These early stories were inspired by Edward Gibbon's The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.

There are several anachronistic things about the book. Written at the dawn of the nuclear age, the book envisions personal nuclear powered devices, including household devices like stoves. Additionally, it seems like all of the characters smoke.

Foundation is not really a very good book; I don't recommend it. You should only read it as a historical curiosity or if you are trying to read all of Asimov's books...

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