Elitist Classics: Asimov’s Foundation Novels

Posted: February 16, 2011 by Alan in Elitist Classics, Elitist University
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Isaac Asimov was an author of ideas. In the case of his Foundation series, it’s about the possibility of using science to predict the fall of a Galactic Empire far in the future. Hari Seldon is the brainchild behind mathematical sociology, aka psychohistory: predicting the future based on the actions of a large population. Unfortunately, the future is bleak, with a thirty-thousand-year dark age on the horizon. But Hari also predicts that it’s possible to close that gap to only a thousand years by safe-keeping human knowledge using his Foundations.

The original trilogy was written in the early 50’s, and was influenced by Gibbon’s THE HISTORY OF THE DECLINE AND FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE–Asimov wanted to create a story with a similar scope, something to stretch our imaginations. Also, don’t forget that the era was post-World War II and during the Cold War, so reading the series also feels like a warning.

All of these books are currently in print, available for cheaper than paperback on Kindle, and should be found at even small libraries. The best books are the original three, charming in their (to us) old fashioned sensibilities. Certainly you could read the entire series, but if you’re short on time focus on the original trilogy: FOUNDATION, FOUNDATION AND EMPIRE, and SECOND FOUNDATION are quick reads, Asimov’s style is straightforward and unencumbered, and with fascinating ideas worth contemplating.

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)

Recommended Age: 14+
Language: Mild.
Violence: Some, depending on the book, but nothing graphic.
Sex: Implied, but infrequent in the series.

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