Isaac Asimov’s Foundation is the first book in the Foundation Trilogy in which Asimov won the Hugo Award. The Hugo Award is annual award given out to the best Science Fiction work or achievement of the previous year. I have had this trilogy in my possession for quite a number of years with the intention of reading it one day. With it being a new month (February) and starting on the second chapter of my book a month goal, I decided to finally start this series.
It should be noted that this book was originally published in 1951; which really precludes the modern day characteristics of Science Fiction.
The book opens up with a traveler on a space ship that is set to meet up with a mathematician by the name of Hari Seldon. The traveler has booked passage to the capital of the Galactic Empire (Trantor). The traveler himself is a mathematician and is interviewing with Seldon for a position involving a branch a mathematics known as “Psychohistory.” After the meeting has occurred, the traveler is detained by empire officials and is questioned about his dealings with Hari Seldon. The traveler himself is completely unaware of Seldon’s intentions, and the reader only becomes familiar with Seldon’s plan upon questioning Seldon himself. This is when we learn that Seldon has predicted the decline of the Empire (through Psychohistory) with the result being that the Empire will cease to exist in approximately 300 years. Seldon proposes to the Empire to allow his staff of roughly 100,000 to create a society on Terminus which will be used as a “Foundation” to create a galactic Encyclopedia in which all knowledge that has been obtained up to this point to be recorded so that once the Empire collapses, the recovery efforts can be reduced to a mere 1000 years as opposed to the 30,000 years that Seldon predicts. The Empire agrees to Seldon’s terms and allows Seldon’s staff to populate Terminus and create a Foundation that will be used to minimize the recovery time.
The book is broken up in segments that seem to dictate a block of time that has elapsed between them. The second segment seems to take place roughly 50 years after the first, and that is when the reader learns of the true plan of Seldon through the use of a time vault. Seldon at this point in time has passed on, but has created holographic messages that are to be displayed to the members of the government class at certain intervals based on when Seldon predicted “crises” will occur. As the story progresses, the members of government are able to determine when the next message will be revealed based on the occurrence of these “Seldon Crises”.
There is very little overlap between the characters from segment to segment. Hari Seldon is the common thread amongst of these segments even though he passed on sometime between the first and second segment. There are references made about previous characters, but for the most part, these segments are stories on their own and are used to further demonstrate a different crisis that has or will occur.
To be quite honest, I found myself somewhat disappointed in this book. There were places where I found myself intrigued, but at other times, I felt it difficult to trudge along and continue reading. There is very little character development, and the development that does occur gets lost once the new segment starts because you’re dealing with a new set of players. That’s not to say that I won’t read the next book in the series. Perhaps it’s necessary to read the entire trilogy before passing judgement on the first book.