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Prelude to Foundation by Isaac Asimov | Nerd Review

by on May 21, 2015
 

The Foundation series reading progress bar:

As promised that I will post more reviews of the books I read on my kindle, here’s the next one. After my last book, I went on to finish Harry Potter series out of boredom  which I don’t think is worth blogging for as many of you might have read it already read and almost everyone would have seen the movies.

I was looking to get hooked up to a nice book series and I got my hands on just that! Yep, The Foundation series by Isaac Asimov. You may have heard about him and his word in movie I,Robot (starring Will Smith)  which took inspiration from Isaac Asimov’s book of short-stories by same name.


The Foundation series is a collection of novels and short stories which were not printed in chronological order (similar to Star wars) but was more of an after though as the original Foundation series had 3 books which were followed by few prequels and sequels to add it upto 7. All the books in correct chronological order of events are:

  1. Prelude to Foundation
  2. Forward the Foundation
  3. Foundation
  4. Foundation and Empire
  5. Second Foundation
  6. Foundation’s Edge
  7. Foundation and Earth

Isaac Asimov, an American author & Professor of biochemistry at Boston University, was considered as a master of hard science fiction. If you read his work you will understand the reason behind it as his writing style was so elaborate and well thought off that you won’t believe that the novel dates back to 20th century.

For nearly thirty years, the series was a trilogy: Foundation, Foundation and Empire, Second Foundation. Asimov began adding to the series in 1981, with two sequels: Foundation’s Edge, Foundation and Earth, and two prequels: Prelude to Foundation, Forward the Foundation. The additions made reference to events in Asimov’s Robot and Empire series, indicating that they were also set in the same fictional universe.

Prelude to Foundation by Isaac Asimov First edition cover

Prelude to Foundation – First edition cover

The protagonist of the story is “Hari Seldon”, a brilliant mathematician, who theoretically proves that by using the laws of mass action, future can be predicted, but only on a large scale. He introduce this fact with a new branch of mathematics known as psychohistory, a concept of mathematical sociology.

The story in Prelude to Foundation starts with Hari’s presentation of a paper at a mathematics convention detailing how practical use of psychohistory might theoretically be possible. The Emperor of the Galactic Empire – Cleon learns of this and wants to use Hari for his own political gain. From here starts a journey of chaos and mayhem as Hari has to escape from Trantor, the administrative center of the galaxy. Little does the young Outworld mathematician know that he has already sealed his fate and the fate of humanity. For Hari possesses the prophetic power that makes him the most wanted man in the Empire… the man who holds the key to the future — an apocalyptic power to be known forever after as the Foundation.

Foundation series is based in a timeline about 50,000 years into the future from the time they were written (circa 1940).

The story picks up relatively fast and gets very interesting in no time. Asimov’s writing style is something you will fall in love with as the story keeps you bound and you won’t feel like putting down the book (or kindle) once you get the taste of it. Asimov’s imagination of future is really mindblowing as he talks from Portable computers to Portable credit tiles, Interplanet travel via Corridors, Multi-level cities etc. I mean it’s commendable that even for the times, he was so creative to think about the way things will be in future.

Interestingly, since Humanity has expanded over the galaxy, Earth has been forgotten and is being treated as a Legend of a place from where they all originated. All the information and records of that era has been lost which is very intriguing if you think about it and the reasoning given for same is pretty justifying. Hari Seldon along with his companion narrowly evades from Galactic Empire by travelling from one planet to another. This is a very interesting book as it sets course for the successive parts of the Foundation series. I would recommend you to pick it up if you really like Sci-Fi genre and a bit of tech-geek as book has certain references to Asimov’s imagination of future stuff which is incredible.

Little known fact: Asimov generated character names using a random number generator.

The twists towards the end were exciting and while I partly expected one of them, it still didn’t take away from the “WTF!” nature of the moment. I am looking forward to the second part now and will start reading this week itself. I am sure The Foundation series is going to be one hell of a series. I later plan to read The Robot series too which is tied in with Foundation universe itself. Ain’t that brilliant?

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