The Foundation Review by Isaac Asimov

Voiced by Amazon Polly

Content Summary

In the content, we will examine Isaac Asimov‘s classic series Foundation, the first book in chronological order and the third book in terms of the progression of the story.

The Foundation Price Comparison

AmazonDel ReyERROR
Amazon (Kindle)Spectra $7.99

Foundation is the most special book in this series. It is a unique work, both because it is Isaac Asimov’s first book in the series and with the breath it brings to science fiction.

Foundation cover from Del Rey

Foundation cover from Del Rey

We mentioned earlier here that you can choose two ways to read the Foundation series, either chronologically or according to the progression of the story. Just like in Star Wars. We started the series by following the order according to the progression of the story, even though the fans were against it. We also shared a reading order regarding the order in which you can read the Foundation depending on your preference.

As we mentioned in our previous reviews of the series, the Foundation series is a political science fiction that makes references to world political history. Bringing the political atmosphere into sci-fi is also valuable as it is an extraordinary way of looking at events in the world from the outside.

Let’s take a look at the life of series creator Isaac Asimov.

Who is Isaac Asimov?

A painting produced by Fineart for Asimov (source)

A painting produced by Fineart for Asimov (source)

Isaac Asimov was born in 1920 in Petrovich, Russia. He came to America with his family when he was three years old. He spent his childhood and primary education in Brooklyn. She enters Columbia University to study biology, but then she skips her courses and switches to Chemistry, graduating in 1939.

This training ensures that he is a biochemist as well as a popular science writer, and the inventions and discoveries in science fiction are scientifically impeccable.

Isaac Asimov, one of the most prolific writers ever, with more than 500 works in total, countless podcasts, hundreds of letters and postcards, passed away on April 6, 1992, leaving behind his unforgettable works that also inspired the cinema today.

Summary of the Foundation

You know, the Foundation series takes place in a future where humanity has colonized the universe and started to live on different planets.

However, these planets, which live under a galactic empire without fighting each other, fall into a completely different historical reality as the Galactic Empire begins to disintegrate.

At this point, the story expands with the science of psychohistory founded by mathematician Hari Seldon and reveals that the future can be predicted with probabilities on a macro scale. The first thing Seldon’s psychohistorical science finds is that the Galactic Empire will surely collapse in the near future. 

Seldon predicts that ten thousand years of civil war and regression await the universe, and to change this situation, he dedicates the rest of his life to devising a project that will at least reduce this period to a thousand years.

This project is to establish the Foundation on a planet at the edge of the universe, far from Trantor, the center of the Galactic Empire.

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

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

The novel takes place in this Foundation, which Hari Seldon founded and largely traced its path. Throughout the narrative, he describes the Foundation’s relations with the border planets around it in the fields of religion, economy and science, how it avoided war and maintained balance.

Describing the 150-year process, the novel describes how the crises that we thought were insurmountable resolved by themselves as follows.

“In every crisis, our freedom of action would be limited in such a way that the only way out was.”

Therefore, waiting until there is only one solution left for crises that are too sudden and serious to take action is the only human choice that leaves nothing to worry about. According to the novel, it’s all about patience. He is able to look at time more broadly.

Topic of The Foundation

We know that humans have been on earth for millions of years. However, when we look at the history of the monotheistic religions, we see that it did not go back to a very distant past and emerged at the same time as the state structures.

It seems as if this fact is emphasized a lot in the Foundation, and the Foundation is dealing with 4 planets that may cause trouble at the border by using religion. However, this situation evolves into something else as the Foundation turns into an economic power in the later stages of the novel.

The argument put forward by the book is indeed similar to the one in history. In the past, when you Christianized a state thousands of kilometers away, you could make it subject to the Vatican and act in line with its views. However, at the end of the industrial revolution and especially at the end of the 20th century, people began not to attach importance to religious institutions as much as they used to, and even though they did, they did not interfere with worldly affairs. Economic values ​​and products took its place.

Asimov's Foundation

Asimov’s Foundation

The novel contains a lot of substance to ponder over this and similar ones. In the meantime, let us state that there is no anti-religion in the novel, and that religions are one of the biggest factors that have contributed to the development of civilization.

Foundation Quotes

Novel is a work that progresses rapidly through concrete life situations without trying to say aphorisms. So maybe you don’t come across too many lines to underline, but when you look at it as a whole, you feel that it contains important thoughts. For example, the following statement about a foolish manager in the novel should be considered.

“His nose and eyes are exactly as you describe, but his hair has already turned gray. He also plays the game treacherous. Luckily, he’s the planet’s biggest asshole. The fact that he thinks he is the devil himself shows this stupidity even more.” – Page 123.

It is possible to come across passages that contain Freudian analyzes such as the following.

“He’s still very eager to tackle tough issues. This is unfortunate for us in a way; The man has infinite self-confidence. It is highly probable that this is rooted in an inferiority complex.” – Page 123

Or

“I know. If the person who goes to the fire does not see a flame, he will start the fire himself.” – 174

The Foundation General Evaluation

I did not like this novel, which is in the third place according to the progression of the story, as much as Prelude to Foundation and Forward The Foundation, which are written by Asimov during his maturity and tell the beginning years of the story. 

There are certain reasons for this.

First, yes, mostly grand narratives span large time periods. The Foundation also describes a great period of 150 years, but it seems as if there is not enough connection between the crises. It is possible to follow the political and sociological transformations, but in the absence of a subsequent event and character continuity, it is possible to state that the novel has some disconnected and idle aspects compared to the beginning of the story.

Secondly, the fictional inventions and weapons depicted in the novel lack technical explanations and details that would convince the reader. A nuclear-powered device that turns any object it wants into gold sounds fantastic rather than science fiction unless its scientific foundations are explained. Maybe we can attribute this to the fact that the author wrote the book in his twenties and was not competent enough in science fiction.

Besides, the Foundation has its good sides, of course. First of all, it makes us rethink what kind of contributions religion and economy have made to civilization and social life.

Just as converting a country thousands of kilometers away into Christianity 600 years ago was enough for them to be affiliated with the Vatican, the early days of the Foundation were based on the religious commitments of the planets. However, just as religion has no such power today, the influence of religion weakens in the Foundation as time passes, and economic values ​​and products come to replace it.

This power exchange between the concepts of religion and economy has also been an interesting look at world history.

We say it in every Foundation series novel review. Although psychohistory mentioned in the series is a fictional science based on predicting the future with mathematical formulas, it actually exists in real life, dear reader. Today, we have more and more data than ever before in history, and we are now better at interpreting this data than ever before. Analyzes and future predictions made using the data of science now give consistent results today.

References

https://www.nature.com

https://www.jstor.org

The Foundation Review by Isaac Asimov
  • Story
  • Fiction
  • Wording
  • Atmosphere
4

Briefly My Opinion

It is a novel that I did not find as successful as the previous parts of the story told in the Foundation series, but it opens important doors in terms of making people think about the impact of religion and economy on the development of civilization.

Leave a Reply