2012/01/27

Foundation and Empire by Isaac Asimov

The Mule playing his Psycholyre on a paperback...
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Title: Foundation and Empire
Author: Isaac Asimov
Format: Audiobook
Genre: Hard Science Fiction
Year: 1952
Acquired: Library Loan
Ranking: 2/5

Summary: Led by its founding father, the great psychohistorian Hari Seldon, and taking advantage of its superior science and technology, the Foundation has survived the greed and barbarism of its neighboring warrior-planets. Yet now it must face the Empire—still the mightiest force in the Galaxy even in its death throes. When an ambitious general determined to restore the Empire’s glory turns the vast Imperial fleet toward the Foundation, the only hope for the small planet of scholars and scientists lies in the prophecies of Hari Seldon.
But not even Hari Seldon could have predicted the birth of the extraordinary creature called The Mule—a mutant intelligence with a power greater than a dozen battle fleets…a power that can turn the strongest-willed human into an obedient slave.

My Thoughts: I just feel let down by the first two books of this series. I guess Asimov is not my cup of tea or coffee what have you. I did struggle the grasp Asimov writing style in the first book. So I figured that maybe the second book in the series would be a little better. I was wrong. I came into this series thrilled to FINALLY read the Foundation series.I feel disappointed with many of my friends recommending this series. It took all my being to be able to finish this book. Well maybe it was because it was an audiobook I am not sure what it was for me.

The basic premise for the Foundation series is that a brilliant scientist Hari Seldon has developed the art of psychohistory; he can basically predict the future movements of humanity and the ebbs and flow of history within a reasonable margin for error. He sees that the galaxy will regress to barbarism, but by establishing a foundation of scientists and other intellectuals to work on a world encyclopedia and preserve the knowledge of the current empire, the period of barbarism can be reduced dramatically. Of course, he can't live forever, so he predicts as far ahead as he can, and records holograms of himself to be viewed by future generations so that they can partake in his knowledge and thwart whatever evils will come to them.

If you're like me, this sounds like a really incredibly awesome concept, and it really is. The problem is that it just doesn't work out to be as exciting as it sounds. In the first novel, I liked the idea, but by midway through this, the second, I decided it actually limits the series entirely. To base the series on the idea of the future being predictable, Asimov essentially created a crutch the leads to there being no actual drama whatsoever. If you know the good guys have everything worked out ahead of time, is there ever really any question how things will turn out in the long run? I don't think so. Of course, there are going to be minor problems to create a little bit of conflict, but it seems pretty clear that the good guys are going to pull it out.
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