Foundation, Foundation and Empire, Second Foundation (Everyman's Library Classics & Contemporary Classics) Hardcover – 2 Nov 2010
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Isaac Asimov's Foundation trilogy - a riveting saga of humanity's struggle against darkness played out on the grandest possible scale - is one of the cornerstones of modern science fiction. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
About the Author
Asimov was born in Russia in 1919, his family moved to the USA where his father owned a succession of sweet shops.
Asimov graduated from Columbia University and, after a brief period in the army, he joined the Boston University school of medicine and thereafter took to full time writing, until his death in 1992
Introducer biography: Michael Dirda is a book critic on the Washington Post. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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As for the foundation novels themselves, they hardly need me to recommend them but if you have never heard much about them before and are coming to them as a curious newcomer, you are in for a real treat. This is science-fiction at its best and greatest but written in a beautifully readable style that is wonderfully page turning and absorbing even as it stretches your imagination. A true work of genius. So this is a beautifully produced volume of one of the best science fiction works ever. Give this as a present to any science fiction fan and they will be in your debt forever.
Structurally, it's somewhat unusual - really, the book is a series of connected short stories, each involving a different set of characters and a different societal context, all linked into one overarching epic tale of imperial degradation and rebirth. On the one hand, it makes it difficult to really get into the heads of the characters, each of which is a scheming Machiavellian genius. On the other, it creates a sense of epic scope and scale that simpler narrative forms wouldn't have allowed. It feels in some respects like dipping into a vast, ongoing drama from which we cannot drink too deeply lest it overwhelm. As a series of science fiction epic vignettes, it's done remarkably well.
Seeing the book in its modern context too reveals just how influential it has been in classic and modern science fiction. Warhammer 40k seems to have been one of the primary beneficiaries in that respect, with both the Imperium of Man and the Adeptus Mechanicus drawing liberally from the canon of Foundation, but there are precursor or progenitor fragments of half a dozen science fiction universes to be found within.
It's not a perfect book - the vignette style is important to the telling, but has the unavoidable consequence of fragmenting the reading experience, and there is an awful lot of exposition threaded through its scant few pages. However, it is a very good book and I enjoyed reading it.
The only thing small about this book is the book itself.
Foundation is undoubtedly a classic of science fiction, trail blazing a path for many imitators, and formulating ideas that influenced a generation of science fiction writers. It deserves to be a longer book, and I found its brevity dissatisfying and the characters somewhat shallow. I guess that means I should read volume two. Given its size, if you are interested in science fiction, you don't have much excuse for ignoring this book.
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