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A book by Isaac Asimov

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Superman sydrome and weak characterization

  • Aug 4, 2004
I can understand why this book is considered one of the best science fiction books ever written, especially considering the time period it was written in. It has a very interesting concept of destination and cause and effect (although it is weak in execution and very weak in explanation). For these reasons and other I should only give this book a one star, but instead I gave it two and I will explain why later.

There is almost zero character development in this book. The extremely short chapters jump thirty years to eighty years and more between chapters. Almost every "book" within this book has a new set of characters with only a few references of the "heroes" from the previous "books." At times, this makes for very confusing reading because I had no idea who the new people were in the successive chapters.

As mentioned in the title, this book suffers greatly from the Superman sydrome. By this I mean that you know the outcome before the events have unfolded. Superman can't be beat (except for by Doomsday in the comics but he comes back anyway) and therefor when watching the movies you know he wins. So there just has to be more elaborate plans and more complex ways of defeating him but he still will win. The same is true with the foundation. Harry Seldon, the prophet who esentially created the foundation, knew what was going to happen because he could see the future. Every "book" in "Foundation" will ultimately see the Foundation as the victor, so there just must be more complex problems arising, but of course the Foundation will ultimately prevail. And in this book, the problems are not really that complex, just different social economies arising to counter the previously established social economy that prevailed in the previous "book." I can only imagine that in the later books the problems will get ridiculously complex - maybe even too complex for enjoyment.

Because this book has almost zero characterization and is very predictable I would give this book one star, but instead I gave it two. The reason for this is because I have read the backs of the other books in the Foundation series and other reviews of them and I am interested in the storyline. I want to read about the Mule in Foundation and Empire, and I want to read about Earth in Foundations Edge. If not for that this book would recieve a one star rating from me and I would also never recommend this book or ever pick it up again.

It may be a classic, but it's not that great. It's not great at all.

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review by . August 04, 2008
The first-written but second in fictional order to Prelude to Foundation (Foundation Novels). OK, not great. Attempts too great a sweep of time to allow for any character development, or perhaps Asimov just isn't that good a writer to manage it.    Interestingly, Asimov really attempts no explanation of Seldon's Psychohistory, as is done in Prelude written 25 years later. Without Prelude, Foundation's plot-driving motive would be fuzzy at best.
review by . June 27, 2010
This first book in the foundation series sets the stage for a sweeping vision of the future. Hal, a nobody from a small planet, is a mathematical genius. He is able to "see" the future by calculation endless possibilities. He and the Foundation are then able to "guide" the world around them by eliminating some possibilities, and encouraging others. As they manipulate the world around them, worlds grow, empires fall, and the foundation becomes the enemy itself. Foundation dabbles …
Quick Tip by . October 05, 2010
The original "Foundation" trilogy was a sci-fi masterpiece. Some of the later books? Maybe not so much.
review by . February 04, 2010
By the end of the thirteenth millennium, mankind had populated millions of planets scattered throughout the galaxy. The centre of the imperial government was located on the planet Trantor, in effect a single planetary city some 75,000,000 square miles in extent. Every conceivable square foot of habitable space was occupied with a teeming population well in excess of 40 billion souls. Its internal problems were so vast that it was all but inevitable that its grip on the outer reaches of its dominion …
Quick Tip by . August 08, 2010
Highly intellectual. I read most of this. Some very heady parts, but then some very satisfying action scenes with requisite stand-up and cheer moments.
Quick Tip by . July 04, 2010
One of the seminal books of science fiction, written in 1950 and still remarkably relevant. A fascinating tale of a new science, psychohistory, and what it means to a dying empire and a growing, rational political force to replace it. Russian-born Asimov offered a fascinating perspective and alternative to all the various socio-political experiments of his day. Follow up with the next two books of the trilogy!
Quick Tip by . June 20, 2010
great book.
Quick Tip by . June 16, 2010
Asimov introduces a world where psycho-history is able to predict the future of civilization by studying its past mistakes and triumphs.
review by . July 15, 2006
I personally enjoyed ever word of this particular work. Many other reviewers have gone into the plot, etc. so I will not do so here to any depth. This is one of those works of SiFi that will appeal to certain taste, while others may find it not to their liking. There is a great deal of politics (almost Pre WWI European) involved in the story line. As the story covers (all books included) over one thousand years, there are many, many characters to track and keep track of. This is indeed a series …
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About this book


One of the great masterworks of science fiction, the Foundation novels of Isaac Asimov are unsurpassed for their unique blend of nonstop action, daring ideas, and extensive world-building. The story of our future begins with the history of Foundation and its greatest psychohistorian: Hari Seldon.

For twelve thousand years the Galactic Empire has ruled supreme. Now it is dying. Only Hari Seldon, creator of the revolutionary science of psychohistory, can see into the future—a dark age of ignorance, barbarism, and warfare that will last thirty thousand years. To preserve knowledge and save mankind, Seldon gathers the best minds in the Empire—both scientists and scholars—and brings them to
a bleak planet at the edge of the Galaxy to serve as a beacon of hope for future generations. He calls his sanctuary the Foundation.

But soon the fledgling Foundation finds itself at the mercy of corrupt warlords rising in the wake of the receding Empire. And mankind’s last best hope is faced with an agonizing choice: submit to the barbarians and live as slaves—or take a stand for freedom and risk total destruction.
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ISBN-10: 0553803719
ISBN-13: 978-0553803716
Author: Isaac Asimov
Genre: Science Fiction & Fantasy
Publisher: Spectra
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