0075 | Foundation – Isaac Asimov


Context: Audiobook I listened to in a couple of days before going to Sri Lanka.
REVIEW
This gave me unpleasant flashbacks to Atlas Shrugged with it’s paranoid cast of characters sprinkled with one or two preternaturally calm individuals who remain smiling placidly through it all. I didn’t like it one bit.

The novel is short and packs a lot into it. It’s dominated by people speaking to each other as if they’ve evolved podiums. Like Atlas Shrugged, I don’t think there’s a single example of a normal conversational exchange. And I found it really hard to follow the book. Chapters were decades apart chronologically and thus you found yourself introduced to a load more people as each section of the book progressed. It turns out that the book was written as five short stories which explains this. Wikipedia says that they “form a single plot” – mmmm if you say so.

It’s all about politics. It tries to be about religion in places but it’s clear that Asimov thinks religion and politics are inseparable. Perhaps he’s right, just so long as we agree to separate religion and faith. Like Stranger in a Strange Land, if you’re going to write about political systems and people, why place them a million years in the future? Seems like a cheap trick to me. Can’t see the point of it really except that it enables you to flesh out a really boring novel with mildly interesting imaginative bits here and there.

One curiously reassuring fact though: Despite the fact that the book is set some 9,000 years in the future and that there’s no mention of a being called God despite there being definite discussion of spirituality, it’s nice to hear that the English language will retain borrowings from the Bible we currently use.

There was something about a foundation in there for consistency but seeing as Hari Seldon had already predicted what was going to happen (with a 98.4% chance of certainty) at the start of the novel, there seems little point in going on to the inevitable conclusion in two books’ time.

OPENING LINE
Hari Seldon, born in the 11,988th year of the galactic era, died 12,069.

CLOSING LINE
And so after three years of a war which was certainly the most unfought war on record, the republic of Corel surrendered unconditionally and Hober Mallow took his place next to Hari Seldon and Salvor Hardin in the hearts of the people of the foundation.

RATING:
terrible > poor > mediocre > okay > good > very good> excellent > superb

  • Rachael January 29, 2008, 2:25 pm

    Its been years since I read the triology and pre-quels and sequels, but these books left me excited for more. Strange how the same book strikes different people differently.

    I think I will need to go back and re-read these books, to see if as an adult, versus a teenager, they strike me any differently.

    Reply

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