Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Foundation by Isaac Asimov (finished)

I just finished Foundation by Isaac Asimov.

The author of Ender's Game (which is an outstanding book), Orson Scott Card, said that the Foundation Trilogy profoundly affected him as a young man.  He said, something to the effect, that this series of books was the reason why he wanted to become a writer.

I really liked Ender's Game so I decided to give Foundation by Isaac Asimov a try.

It turns out that there are a lot of Foundation books:
Prelude to Foundation
Foundation and Empire
Second Foundation
Foundation's Edge
Foundation and Earth
Forward to Foundation

Initially, I found this confusing.  I was looking for a trilogy and to my untrained mathematical eye, it looked like there were more than three Foundation books.  After a little bit of research, it turned out that the books that Card was referring to are the following: Foundation, 'Foundation and Empire' and Second Foundation.  The others were written later on in Asimov's life.  Prelude to Foundation, which within the story is first in the series, was written much later than most of the books.  So I started with Foundation.

Foundation is a collection of five short stories.  Part I is simply introduces the premises of the book.  Part II refers to the first crisis.  Part III refers to the second crisis.  Parts IV and V refer to the third crisis.

Asimov's writing is interesting to me.  There is a lot of dialogue and very little description.  I have to import a lot of the setting, costume and action into the story.  Most of the drama happens in the dialogue and there are only a few places where there is any action.  So essentially, this book is non-descriptive with a lot of talk and little action.  Considering this, Foundation (as a book) shouldn't work well.  But it does.  It does indeed.  Two places in the book brought shivers down my neck as I was reading.  I had a hard time putting the book down because it was so engaging.

I don't want to tell you any more about the book because part of the fun for me was I didn't know anything about the book when I started.

Overall, I thought the book was outstanding.  It is a classic science fiction novel (is it a novel or should I say collection?) for good reason.  I plan to read 'Foundation and Empire' and Second Foundation in the near future.  Good times.

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