Customer Review

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An important Sci Fi novel, 17 July 2012
This review is from: Foundation: 1/3 (The Foundation Series) (Paperback)
I have just re-read all 7 of Asimov's Foundation novels, having originally read them in the 1980s. For those of you new to the series it consists of 2 'prequel' novels, the original trilogy (which are actually a series of short stories originally written for a magazine published in three volumes, followed by two sequel novels. The four novels were written decades after the short stories in the original trilogy. This book (Foundation) is the third book (the first of the original trilogy), it was the first Foundation book I read (as I started before the prequels were published).

This is considered to be a very important sci fi story from the golden age of sci fi, but the modern reader needs to be aware that it is rather different than you might expect. First the fact that it is made up of a sequence of related short stories means that it does not read like a unified novel. There is little character development etc. You see far less of this in modern books, because most authors now jump straight into novels rather than starting writing short stories (for which there is just not the same market now). The second thing is that Asimov was never about predicting or focusing on advanced technology. As such much about the tech that is mentioned is either out of date or rather daft. An example of this is that in the story as the 12,000 year old Galactic Empire declines that many worlds lose the ability to use nuclear power. This in itself is not what is daft, it is that despite having to used coal and oil these planets can still have interstellar space ships etc. Asimov's depiction of computer technology is also rather easy to laugh at now - use of microfilm etc. to store records, punch card computers etc.

Now this will all seem very negative, but the truth is while coming across as quaint, these characteristics actually do not really matter. Asimov's story is not centred on technology, but on society, and what he describes in Foundation is as valid now as it was when written. Personally I like his more recent full length novels, but the original trilogy is also still well worth a read. I have rated this as three stars not because the tech is outdated but because I am not a fan of short stories.
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