Recently I’ve been on a huge science fiction kick, something I noted in my ReInception review. Therefore, when I was doing my research into what some of the best science fiction novels are, Asmimov’s name kept popping up and his Foundation series kept popping up the most often. In fact, I think somewhere I read it referred to as “the best science fiction series of all time” which is quite some praise. Therefore, I thought “Perfect, this should scratch my itch!” But did it?
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Foundation is essentially a book set many thousands of years in the future when humanity has conquered the stars and has spread out across the galaxy. The story itself begins with a man called Hari Seldon and his calculation that the Empire that humanity has created will crumble within 500 years. Then 50 years later, after Seldon’s death, Terminus, the planet on which Seldon was banished is in crisis and so Salvor Hardin, the mayor has to try and negotiate a way for the planet to survive.
Foundation plot – 4/5
As I stated above, the plot for Foundation jumps around quite a bit. At first, it really confused me as to what was going on – there are no obvious hints as to where you are in any sort of timeline, you just have to naturally pick it up from some of the things that the characters say throughout the story.
However, once I had picked it up and got my bearings as to where I was, I started to get really interested! Foundation, like quite a few science fiction novels apparently (see my review of Wool too), it was originally short stories published to a magazine which were then combined into a novel (and then future novels too).
Therefore, because of the way it was essentially three separate stories, I felt like I never got a complete beginning, middle and end and felt a little disjointed. But the story I did get was brilliantly written and engaging so that fully made up for it.
Foundation characters – 4/5
Now, a lot of the time with books from decades ago, the depth of characters isn’t so much. The priority back in those days was to tell a great story and, with Asimov’s famously incredible imagination and intelligent theories, this was always going to be the best way to go.
However, I say all that and I’m going to tell you that I feel like he still manages to define his characters very well. Not every character in a book needs to have a big story arc to impress me; if you can write down the characters’ names and I could give you clear definitions as to what made them different from other characters, then they’re well-written characters.
We have villains, we have the good guys and it’s very clear who they are, whilst making both feel very human, giving them flaws and weaknesses in their personas.
Foundation final rating – 4/5
Foundation is a book that suffers a little from being a collection of three short stories as it doesn’t feel like one complete novel at times, however, Asimov’s wonderful imagination and the captivating world he builds here will keep you reading. Almost effortlessly, Asimov has also written in some very defined characters that tie together a great science fiction novel. Its lack of real overarching story has knocked it down a few marks for me but I have very high hopes for the rest of the series and will definitely be picking up the sequel.