Forward the Foundation Review by Isaac Asimov

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Content Summary

We will examine Forward The Foundation, the second book in the Foundation series by Isaac Asimov, one of the most famous writers of the science fiction genre.

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According to the release years of the Foundation series, Foundation(1951), Foundation and Empire(1952), Second Foundation(1953), Foundation’s Edge (1982), Foundation and Earth(1986), Prelude to Foundation(1988), Forward The Foundation(1993) listed as. In the order in which the events are described, they are listed as Prelude to Foundation(1988), Forward The Foundation(1993), Foundation(1951), Foundation and Empire(1952), Second Foundation(1953), Foundation’s Edge(1982), Foundation and Earth(1986).

Just like in Star Wars, the books have an exit sequence that goes back and forth between events. Foundation enthusiasts recommend reading the books according to their release dates, but I chose to read them in the order in which the events were told, a little obsessively, thinking it would be easier to follow. I also reviewed the first book I read, Prelude to Foundation, here.

In fact, I was biased against serial novels, especially if they were popular and not a transcendent literary work. Even my same biases were valid for the sci-fi genre, but I learned to open my head. I started reading science fiction series. These novels have positive aspects such as their political aspects and negative aspects such as their inability to reflect human reality, but let’s start our review first with Isaac Asimov’s life.

Who is Isaac Asimov?

Isaac Asimov came to America in 1920 when he was only 2 years old as a child of a Russian family.

A photograph of Janet Jeppson and Isaac Asimov

A photograph of Janet Jeppson and Isaac Asimov

Asimov, who started reading at a young age and loved reading because his family’s candy store also sold magazines and reading material, says that his dream in those years was to run a kiosk in the subway that sold books, magazines and the like sold well.

Cover of the book Published by Spectra Publications

Cover of the book Published by Spectra Publications

Asimov, who entered the University after studying in many different types of schools in America, first entered the department of zoology, but had to switch to the department of chemistry because he was against the killing of stray cats and graduated from this field.

Returning to academia after civilian life and working as a chemist, Asimov completed his master’s and doctoral studies – he married Gertrude Blugerman while pursuing his doctoral studies – at the same time he attended Columbia University worked, the university from which he graduated.

Asimov, who in the later stages of his career devoted himself only to his novels, received an offer from DARPA, one of the secret military projects of the United States. However, Asimov rejected this offer because he thought that the information he learned would affect his writing.

Isaac Asimov, who married psychologist Janet Jeppson after breaking up with Gertrude Blugerman in 1973, died of AIDS in 1992 from the injection of infected blood during bypass surgery he had in 1983. The cause of Isaac Asimov’s death was revealed ten years later.

Considered one of the pioneers of the science fiction genre, Asimov has been deemed worthy of numerous awards in this regard and achieved elusive sales figures with the Foundation Series.

Summary of Forward The Foundation

Let me tell you without any surprises. According to the sequence of events, Forward The Foundation tells the story eight years after the first novel, Prelude to Foundation. The book opens with the 40th birthday party of Hari Seldon, the father of psychohistory, who demonstrated that the future can be mathematically predicted using data from the social sciences. It describes a period of 41 years until the death of Hari Seldon at the age of 81.

Meanwhile, we see in flashbacks what happened up until Seldon’s 40th birthday. The first half of the book consists of events in which Hari Seldon, as the emperor’s chief adviser, explains an attempted conspiracy against him due to the political situation of psychohistory.

“Where is this Eto Demerzel, friends? In a final episode, the image is gone. Where is this robot?”

The second half of the book continues as the aging Hari Seldon tries to secure the future of the science of psychohistory and humanity, which is in danger of extinction due to the empire he predicts will fall. He is accompanied on this road by his grandson Wanda and his bodyguard Pavel.

The Topic of Forward The Foundation

“What is the difference between a robot and a human? Will robots and especially artificial intelligence replace humans in the future?”

Robot, as defined by Asimov by Hari Seldon

“It was just a mind that remembered and made clear deductions in the form of a mathematical sequence of deduction. Seldon’s brain, on the other hand, can take unexpected leaps.”

Human memory is a creative memory with a unique side to information processing. So the answer to this question is no for now. Parallel to this, the fate of the empire in the novel depends on humans, not robots.

The topic of Forward The Foundation, like other Foundation series novels, deals with a collapsing Empire. It includes, on the one hand, serious references to the political situation in which the world has been for the last hundred years.

A photo of Asimov and Gertrude Blugerman

A photo of Asimov and Gertrude Blugerman

I think, since the date of its publication coincides with the years when Asimov began to age, the book also contains serious thoughts on the subject of “old age”.

“Until it has reached a critical point, the setback may be so slight that it is unnoticeable, like a house that slowly wears out, but whose wear and tear goes unnoticed until the roof collapses in the middle of the night.” – Page 71

Getting old… Getting out of breath effortlessly in the activities we used to do, getting out of bed with a slight groan, is something that shocks the individual dramatically and makes him think over and over again of the dead as he begins to lose loved ones.

“There were many people in my life who made it easier for me to think about creatures and made my reactions more enjoyable. I tried to judge the ease of my reactions when they were with me and the awkwardness of my reactions in their absence, to determine if I had a clear gain or loss. In the process, one phenomenon made itself clear. The joy of their friendship outweighed the sorrow of their death. As a whole, it is therefore better to feel that they are experiencing it now than not to experience it at all.” – page 52

This is one of the thoughts that come to mind when you endure the painful loss of loved ones. Asimov thinks that the joy of the moments we spend with our loved ones is greater than the sadness we feel when we lose them. That’s why we think that living with the people we love is worth the grief that their death will cause.

An artwork on Asimov (source)

An artwork on Asimov (source)

There is also the matter of love. In this book we see the transformation of Hari Seldon’s only wife and protector, Dors, who we know is not human, into a human and even a bit-looking mother-in-law with Seldon’s love.

“A mother-in-law is a mother-in-law even if she’s a robot!”

However, this change is handled with cheap romantic patterns. Dors’ agreement with such a person could have been presented with artificial intelligence discussions that would convince the reader. At least in the Prelude to Foundation, this issue was better addressed. Unfortunately, it is impossible to find such deep analyzes in Forward The Foundation.

Forward The Foundation Quotes

As we mentioned above, one of the most important aspects of the Foundation series is that it has a serious political side. This side is not very prominent, but the episodes in which he tells about the collapsed empire can easily be adapted to any country that is actually collapsing.

“It wasn’t surprising either. Crime has increased markedly on most planets over the past century, especially in the vast and complex world of Trantor, and nowhere are local security guards able to do anything useful about it. In reality, the security guards are degraded and corrupt in number and effectiveness, although this is difficult to prove. This was inevitable, as the allowances did not increase at the same rate as the cost of living. Public officials had to be paid to be honest. When this was not achieved, they made up for their meager salaries in other ways.”

Then, perhaps from Asimov’s academic identity, there is a passage in Hari Seldon’s identity that explains that academics sometimes do not analyze the problems under their noses while they analyze everything in detail.

“Like personal frictions in this Project that promises so much, how do you predict the future and argue that you’ve reached a point where you can manage when you can’t analyze and solve the problems right next door.” – Page 305

As such, it is inevitable that the greatest brains in our world experience disappointments in their private lives, economic difficulties and betrayals in their friendships. Yes, they may be dealing with much bigger issues, but the small issues they skip over can cause great wounds to tear them away from these things.

General Evaluation Forward The Foundation

Almost all sacred books and primitive texts tell that before this humanity experienced an extinction and was reborn from its ashes, a great flood. From the epic of Gilgamesh, to Noah’s flood, to the narratives in the holy books of the monotheistic religions, the same disastrous situation is mentioned.

The Foundation series is fueled by the same vein. It deals with the disaster and destruction of an empire that existed for thousands of years. That is why it is a series inspired by great narratives, spanning a great period of time and telling great things. Overall, these are truly compelling works that are a joy to read. 

However, it is not enough to just be dragged through the pages while reading a novel, no matter how great the story is. Sometimes you have to run into serious things that will make you stop and think. The peculiarity of the Foundation series is that it succeeds, unlike contemporary works of science fiction. Yes, the series is generally good in this regard, but for some reason there are some problems in Forward The Foundation.

A photo by Asimov sold for $275 on an auction site (source)

A photo by Asimov sold for $275 on an auction site (source)

Forward to Foundation was created with cardboard characters and simple scenes unexpected from Asimov. For example, the character of Hari Seldon’s son Raych has almost no depth and is thrown into an idle place that does not serve the novel.

Asimov, perhaps because of the pressure from the publishers to be understandable and catch the average person, perhaps because of the editors, he compromised his style. He told what he told as if he told a fool. Not a single aspect of the narrative has been left in the void, left to the responsibility of the reader to think.

There are extreme coincidences in the fiction that can cast a shadow over the series. It is also difficult to follow the time sequence as the chapters sometimes go forward and sometimes back in time. How many times did I realize if we were going forward or backward in time when Hari Seldon’s age was mentioned in the middle of the episode. Perhaps this problem can be overcome with the ideas created by the publisher about partitioning.

A painting produced by Fineart for Asimov (source)

A painting produced by Fineart for Asimov (source)

There is also a serious problem with science fiction novels. Since these novels are grand narratives and they design an entire universe, human death is only considered a moment when the fiction is fork for these novels and its depth cannot be seriously explained. The nature and difficulty of death falls victim to the escalating pace of being poignant.

For example, the death of Hari Seldon’s close colleague is too romantic and simplistic.

“Don’t worry, Hari. I’m too tired to do anything. Thank you for telling me, thank you.” His voice was weak. “For the revolution. Make me happy… hap… ha”.

Foundation Series consists of 7 books

Foundation Series consists of 7 books

The mentalism involved at the end of the Forward The Foundation was a bad choice that almost turned the series from science fiction to fantasy. I wish mentalists were formed by a combination of robots and humans. When it comes to thoughts with supernatural powers, the reader struggles to be convinced and falls short of pure science fiction.

References

https://dergipark.org.tr/tr/

https://dergipark.org.tr/tr/

https://www.scifi-review.net/

https://render.fineartamerica.com/

https://www.rrauction.com/auctions/

Forward the Foundation Review by Isaac Asimov
  • Story
  • Fiction
  • Wording
  • Atmosphere
3.9

Briefly My Opinion

Forward The Foundation, stands out as Asimov’s important science fiction novel, which I did not find very successful, but which enlarges and expands the Foundation series, despite its flaws, with its political nature and atmosphere.

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