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on 25 December 2016
Got this because I had unfortunately misplaced my paperback editions of the paperback novels and had felt a desire to read them again after a long absence. So this collection was the most economic or way of replacing them but what has surprised me has been the quality of this book-it is beautifully bound - The photo doesn't do it justice. Underneath the dustjacket the binding is a lovely red cloth and there is a cloth bookmark attached. The quality is such that it has inspired me to want to collect some more editions in this series and build my own library of classic novels - something I was not expecting to do when I bought this.

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.
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VINE VOICETOP 500 REVIEWERon 27 November 2017
In the far distant future, mankind has spread throughout the galaxy, inhabiting countless planets. All are ruled from Trantor, the administrative centre of the Galactic Empire. Hari Seldon is a psychohistorian on Trantor. He has calculated that the Empire will collapse in 500 years time, resulting in millennia of chaos and barbarism. But he has a plan to shorten this to 1000 years, ostensibly by gathering all scientific knowledge into one massive Encyclopaedia Galactica. The Empire sees Seldon's predictions as a threat but nevertheless they agree that a Foundation to prepare the Encyclopaedia should be set up, based on two uninhabited planets on opposite edges of the galaxy. Published in 1951, this, the first volume in what was to become an extensive series of Foundation books, tells the story of one of these settlements, on the planet Terminus, and gradually reveals that Seldon's plan is more drastic than he let on...

The Foundation series is considered one of the great classics of science fiction and, as with much of Asimov's work, its influence can be seen on many later books, films and TV series. I loved the early books in the series as a teenager many years ago, though I didn't like the way Asimov developed it in later years, when he was more or less driven to write more by his fans. It's several decades since I last read this one and I came away from this re-read with mixed feelings.

The basic idea is interesting. Psychohistory is a bit like what we now call social science – the study of how society in the mass shapes and reacts to events. In this time period, the science is so well developed that these things are precisely measurable and can therefore be used as a method to predict the future. It must, I think, have been one of the earliest science fiction novels to be looking at the mass of people as the driving force of history, rather than at princes, presidents, warriors or even specific scientists as “heroes”. However, Asimov doesn't carry this idea forward too well – at various points along the way, there are what are known as “Seldon crises” – moments predicted by Seldon (now long dead) where a particular path must be chosen. In each of these crises, a leader arises who drives and determines the outcome. So Asimov, having made the argument that progress is driven by mass historical movements, quietly drops that idea and brings out one far-sighted individual - a hero, in all but name - as required. He gets round this by suggesting that Seldon's plan is so detailed he was able to predict and manipulate the future so that the right person would be available to deal with each crisis, but it all seems too pat to be credible.

The spreading out of the story over hundreds of years also means that each crisis requires an entirely new cast of characters. Apparently the book was originally developed as a series of short stories, and that's how it feels – episodic. The result is that it's hard to get emotionally invested in any of the characters – they appear, play their brief part, then are long dead before the next chapter begins. It's really more about the ideas that Asimov plays with at each episode, many of which are quite interesting, but this reader needs more of a human angle to feel truly involved. Again because of the format, sometimes things happen too quickly to be credible – for example, at one point a new religion manages to convert billions of followers within a period of a decade or so.

One of the more amusing aspects of reading this kind of future-of-humanity science fiction is seeing how the predictions sound sixty-six years on. Poor Asimov couldn't guess at the internet or Wikipedia – the idea of people working for hundreds of years to collect all human knowledge seems odd to us, used as we are to Googling anything we want to know from how to make an exciting cheese sandwich to how to build an atomic bomb. However, he did foresee the development of the automatic washing machine – an invention that personally I think ranks as at least as important as the internet.

Asimov never made much effort to see how people's habits and attitudes might change in the future, so what you always get are a bunch of mid-twentieth century people doing mid-twentieth century things set in the far future. In this one, his characters all smoke incessantly, while talking in that instantly recognisable American language of the 1950s where everything is “tremendous”, etc. It's a wonderful throwback which always makes me chuckle. His attitudes to women are usually strictly mid-twentieth century too – closer to neanderthal than new man. He treats them with 1950s respect, as valued pretty pets, for the most part. However, that's not so noticeable in this one since he just doesn't bother having any women characters at all! (Slight exaggeration – two minor female characters make brief appearances: one a maid, naturally bedazzled by shiny jewellery, and the other a harridan of a wife.) Sad news, sisters – apparently even in the distant future all scientists, politicians and even criminals will be men. Still, at least we have automatic washing machines...

So a mixed bag, but some of the ideas are original and interesting, Asimov's writing style is always effortless and entertaining, there's some welcome humour, and a mystery surrounding what Seldon's real plan is and how it will play out. Add the book's influential status and this is one that, despite feeling somewhat out-dated, is still well worth reading. 3½ stars for me, so rounded up.
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on 15 January 2015
The Foundation is undoubtedly one of the seminal works of science fiction, and it holds up reasonably well as a modern read. Some of the references seem a little dated - the holding up of 'atomics' as the be-all and end-all of scientific progress for example comes across as a little quaint, but if you can put that aside you'll find a very enjoyable book awaits you.

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.
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on 8 June 2017
I have read Asimov's trilogy years ago and wanted to buy a kindle version as I love the story but there isn't a kindle version so I bought the audio version instead. It is the first audio book I have tried and have only heard the first chapter. I use it on my kindle fire, I think it is good however my hearing is not 100% so I have the volume at maximum which may account for some distortion. I find it more difficult to visualise the characters than when reading but as I've read it before that's ok but the dramatic music that delineates the scenes is overpowering and must have been input for radio listeners. Overall I think it is good and certainly value for the money I paid although I may try headphones in future
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on 22 October 2013
I do not read Pure Sci Fi books too often mainly Koontz/Herbert/King but, when told to get the Asimov series, I made the leap and found I could not put them down and ended up reading one after the other. These are excellent books and keep you interested all the way through the lifetime of the foundation series. I would recommed these to anyone who likes to read well written and gripping books. I have tried other since but no other author can keep me interested as Asimov did. I suppose it is dependent upon individual tastes and these are my cup of tea. Seller was excellent providing great service and delivery.
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on 30 April 2017
The actual stories (all five) are great to read. The only downside was the very poor editing of the book, especially story five. Numerous errors (Sun regularly being written for Jordan Sutt) and word omissions. This is in the Harper Voyager edition.
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on 21 March 2013
Foundation is a collection of short stories telling a big story, the collapse of entire galactic empire, and the creation of its successor by a small sects of scientists devoted to predicting the future. It is a book of big ideas: the feasibility of knowing the future, the relationship between science and religion, the evolution of ideas, the struggle between the individual and the state, and the role of technology in promoting war and peace.

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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on 13 November 2013
I bought this book to complete my series, and what a series, even though poor Asimov was pestered by his publishers to write more more... when he did he did not rush it , he took his time and the quality is still there, obviously if you are interested in this book you have read some of them so carry on. remember pass your books on to the kids get them reading SF if you can too many hours on the IPad and no creative ideas from reading books makes jack a dull boy..Buy it its great
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on 21 September 2012
I really enjoyed this book. I wouldn't say it was gripping, I wouldn't say it was a page turner, it just plodded on, this is why I gave it 4 stars and not 5. But I did enjoy it never the less. I liked how the book shifted through time, 50 years, then 30 years, then 100 years, then finally 2 years. My favorite character was Salvor Hardin, and I loved how his section ended.

I think I will read next other Foundation books, mainly to see how it all fits together and ends. I would recomend this book to everyone who likes Sci-fi, because it is a classic, and it is different to what is on the shelves at the moment, I feel everyone should read at least one classic in their genre, in their life at some point.
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VINE VOICEon 6 September 2007
I highly recommend this book to anyone with an interest in science fiction and politics. I won't write a synopsis since other reviewers have already done that, but suffice to say that this book is short, easy to read and very thought-provoking, if a little dated.

While reading it, I kept wondering why no-one had ever made a movie out of it. It's ideal source material, with its strong plot and episodic narrative. It's like Star Wars for grown-ups. I guess the politics aren't to Hollywood's liking with its dual themes of control by religion and the avarice of royalty. Pity since it would make a truly wonderful film (or series of films). Maybe one day. In the meantime, read it!
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