Book Review: Foundation by Isaac Asimov

Title: Foundation

Author: Isaac Asimov

Publish Date: 1991

Publisher: Bantam Books

Type: Novel

Genre: Science Fiction

Sub-Genre: Technology, Alt. Societies

Plot Summary:

Hari Seldon was the founder of the Foundation, placed in the periphery of a twelve thousand year old Galactic Empire that was slowly deteriorating. Bounded by kingdoms that are set on dominating the area, the newly formed Foundation must find a way to protect itself against being taken over by any of the nearby forces.

Hari set up the Foundation to help rebuild mankind after the Empire’s fall, by saving knowledge and preserving it in an encyclopedia. That meant no warriors, only scientists, leaving them without a way to defend themselves from Barbarism.

But Hari had a plan. He discovered and refined a new science based on mass psychology, and on historic trends called Psychohistory. With it, he could almost ‘see’ into the future and predict events to come many years away. With this new science, Hari found a way to rebuild civilization after the Empire is gone. That is, if the Foundation survives.

Description:

Hari Seldon was a mathematician on his home planet and discovered a way that could predict general trends that a mass of people would follow in the future. He called it ‘Psychohistory’. Many years later, he was considered a threat by the Empire, so he maneuvered his way to having his entire staff moved out of harm’s way, to a planet named Terminus, at the edge of the galaxy.

He had his staff working on an Encyclopedia to record all of the knowledge accumulated by mankind up to that point, and when the suspicions of the Empire began investigating of his actions, he was able to use the Encyclopedia as his cover. But they didn’t trust Hari or his staff, all 100,000 of them, so the Empire put them as far away as they possibly could, Terminus.

Hari predicted a series of crises that would befall the Foundation and kept his predictions hidden from them by ensuring that there were no members with psychology or mathematics training. For them to be able to figure out his predictions would damage his plan by introducing new variables.

The Foundation sits on a planet, devoid of heavy metals, forcing them to rely on others for imports and growth. With no means to build up weapons of defense, as the aggressive neighbors begin to look at Terminus as a new addition to their own possessions, the Foundationers must ward off the attacks with various methods from a ‘balance of power’ to religion.

But the ‘religion’ was no true religion; it was the force of nuclear power!

Appraisal

This book was originally the first of the Author’s “Foundation Series’ and as such, it gives enough details to allow you to understand the reasons for the creation of the Foundation in the first place.