Sunday, July 20, 2008
How have I never read this book before?
Review - Foundation by Isaac Asimov
The Empire is falling. For 12,000 years, it has ruled over countless worlds, but now it is about to collapse. Hari Seldon has found a way to shorten the darkness that will result. He assembles a group of scientists and sequesters them on a lonely planet at the edge of the galaxy, purportedly to create and maintain an encyclopedia of all the knowledge in the universe. He calls this sanctuary The Foundation. However, in the years after he dies, his followers come to realize that there was more to his plan...
It feels odd writing a review of a book that probably everyone in the reading world has already read - how have I lived 32 years without reading it myself? Thank heavens I've corrected this gigantic flaw in my reading history....
I was interested to see how a sci-fi novel written over 50 years ago would stand up in the face of modern scientific advances. I mean, we all know how dorky the original Star Wars movies look now that their special effects are years out of date. (Ducking from the inevitable protests of fans - I can't help it, they look goofy.) To me, Foundation felt like it could be a completely modern novel. Asimov was able to project far enough into the future that we haven't caught up to him yet. The book seemed almost to be more a collection of short stories about the same idea than an actual novel - each section jumped so far into the future that most of the characters had already died. I am interested to read more books in the series to see Asimov fleshes out the different eras of the Foundation that he introduced in this book. I enjoyed it enough to want to read more, but I wouldn't call it one of my favorite reads for the year. Perhaps that's the problem with Great Works of Fiction - they never quite seem to live up to the hype.
Source: Franklin Avenue Library