Monday, January 09, 2012

Foundation by Isaac Asimov (Foundation Trilogy, Book 1) - A Group Discussion Part 1

One of the great masterworks of science fiction, the Foundation novels of Isaac Asimov are unsurpassed for their unique blend of nonstop action, daring ideas, and extensive world-building. The story of our future begins with the history of Foundation and its greatest psychohistorian: Hari Seldon.

For twelve thousand years the Galactic Empire has ruled supreme. Now it is dying. Only Hari Seldon, creator of the revolutionary science of psychohistory, can see into the future—a dark age of ignorance, barbarism, and warfare that will last thirty thousand years. To preserve knowledge and save mankind, Seldon gathers the best minds in the Empire—both scientists and scholars—and brings them toa bleak planet at the edge of the Galaxy to serve as a beacon of hope for future generations. He calls his sanctuary the Foundation. 
But soon the fledgling Foundation finds itself at the mercy of corrupt warlords rising in the wake of the receding Empire. And mankind’s last best hope is faced with an agonizing choice: submit to the barbarians and live as slaves—or take a stand for freedom and risk total destruction.
Today is the first post for the group read of Foundation by Isaac Asimov as part of the Science-Fiction Experience hosted by Carl at Stainless Steel Droppings. I am very late, but at least it is still Monday.

For the purpose of satisfying curiosity, is this your first time reading Foundation or have you read it before?
This is my first time reading Foundation. I am terrible with classic fantasy/science-fiction and actually reading it. I always plan to, but it never seems to happen. I am very happy I am actually reading some at the moment. I am especially happy to be reading science-fiction period. I don't read nearly enough of it any more.

For those reading Foundation for the first time, what expectations did you have going in and has it met them or surprised you in any way?
I really had no idea. I had heard of the books, but I had no idea what they were about. I was just expecting science-fiction of some nature. I know that some people have told me they are intimidated by Asimov. For me, he is just one of countless authors that I haven't got around to reading yet. I don't read the back of books because even in their not spoiling I feel they spoil things for me. I like the surprise of finding everything out. Even with book reviews I read just enough to see if I am going to like a book and then see if the author of the post liked it. Then I add it to my wish list.

What are your thoughts about the structure of the novel thus far? (I am referring to the brief glimpses of different parts of the history of the Foundation with big time gaps between events in the novel).
I think it works for the structure of the story. I applaud Asimov for being brave enough to jump ahead instead of working up to the later dates. He could have filled in the times between and had a 3 or 4 times longer book, but instead he chose a style that I am liking much better. I am not a person that enjoys lots of filler in my books. I know this not apparent in my rambling typing style...

What are your initial thoughts on the field of psychohistory?
uh, yeah, I did the whole history thing in university. I love history. I appreciate that dates are important to history. What I hate is math, so the whole idea of psychohistory and the connection to math just seems wrong to me. At the same time, history is so important because we can learn from it for the events of the future. I think I am conflicted about the whole idea and will refuse to say more until the end of the book when everything plays out. (But really, it seems a bit too... easy... to me... I like to believe in free will.)

What, if anything, is holding your interest thus far, what are you enjoying about Foundation?
Well, I read half the book in one sitting because I was behind and really wanted to join in with the reading. I thought it held my interest very well. If it was say Dune it would have been a form of torture (I jest.. mostly), but this had just the right amount of everything to keep my interest. It is not heavy in the action department, but that seems to work well for the book. I enjoy the way Asimov chooses to tell his story and am curious to see how it continues to play out.

What, if anything, are you not enjoying about Foundation?
Well, Mr. Asimov, I think it is wonderful that you have created this whole idea for your book, but obviously procreation still is happening.... And yet, where are the women? Now, I will admit that it wasn't a terrible reading experience for the lack of them, and Carl (and Jeff) claim it will be remedied, but it is like women do not even exist so far. I appreciate that at the time of the writing women were sort of unimportant, but at least mention them so I can bitch about your portrayal. Not including them at all is just wrong... So, I will just mention that.

The other thing that bothered me was Lord Dorwin. I HATE when people do not speak correctly in books and I have to make their words my words. I know it shouldn't bother me, but it always does. I have seen worse in books, but at this moment in time he was annoying me. I was happy to see the end of him. It wasn't that the chapter wasn't funny, but the way he talked just didn't work for me.


  1. I am right there with you Kelly. I am happy to be reading any science fiction. It is not my chosen genre, but it is not a far leap from fantasy so I am always very curious about the stories.

    This book is a perfect read for me because it is quick paced and not bogged down with language and terminology that I am not familiar with or is too huge to grasp readily.

    The further and futher I get into the story, and reading comments, i am starting to wonder if this whole psychohistory thing is one huge manipluative ploy on Seldon's part. But manipulate for what? and What would be his gain? I do not know, but I do not fully trust Seldon so I think there may be something twisted behind this whole thing. It will be interesting to see if I find mud all over my face because I am a way off on my distrust.

    I did not notice the lack of women. Now that it has been pointed out to me - I am not bothered. I will say though, if the series remained sans women then I probably would be bothered.

    As I have mentioned in other comments - Lord Dorwin's speech issue did not bother me once I acclimated, and it did not take long to acclimate. But the more posts I read where this issue is brought up, I wonder if my ease with his speech is because I am parenting a child with a severe speech impairment and it has become second nature to me to interpret his words into what they should actually mean - that may have contributed to my ease with Lord Dorwin's speech.

    1. I actually used to read lots and lots of science-fiction, but then I discovered fantasy and I sort of moved away from it for a while. I still work it in here and there, but not like I used to!

      Yes, I enjoy that, too. I find it very readable and easy to sit down with and read large sections of at one time.

      I know. I have started the second section and I have been thinking the same thing about psychohistory. It is possible we are just both not very trusting and we should be, though. I just find things a bit too perfect...

      I wasn't bothered so much as I did notice it. I am glad there will be women as the series progresses.

      Yes, and you see, I feel bad saying I don't like Lord Dorwin because it sounds a bit rude because some people really do talk with an impairment.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  2. I like the way you choose your books - it seems really bold! I must admit I didn't read anything about Foundation before starting - probably because it was a choice for a readalong so it was 'a decision free zone'! Also, I'm not a big sci fi reader and that is the aim of this readalong to get out of my comfort zone a bit. I've really enjoyed the writing style, short and snappy and given the amount of 800 page books out there these days it's quite refreshing to pick up such a short read.
    Lol to your 'jest' about Dune.
    Lynn :D

    1. haha, well, people think I am crazy. I am at the library and the librarian says 'Oh, this book looks interesting. What's it about?' And frankly, 9 times out of 10 I have no idea.

      Yes, I need short books once in a while. I like the sense of accomplishment when I can finish something relatively quickly. It helps for when a book is 1000 pages long and going to take a while (1Q84 at the moment.) I know if I just read longer books they would start to lose their appeal.

      I couldn't help it. Dune just did not work for me...

  3. I am like you-I like to know as little about a book as possible before starting. I didn't know much about this one, and I especially had a different idea of what "Foundation" referred to. I think I though it was some sort of "from the Foundation of time..." story.

    1. I had a different idea about what I was getting into myself. I was just judging by the title and that it was science-fiction. I am glad I went in a bit clueless because I think I am enjoying it more that way.

  4. For folks that aren't very into SciFi, Foundation is an easy book to dive into. No infodumping, no math that matters, no nerdy in-jokes, nothing to worry about.

    Sorry there aren't more female characters. Just the other night my husband and I were trying to figure out who was the more sexist author - Asimov or Heinlein. And Asimov won, because at least Heinlein admitted to the existence of women.

    1. I do enjoy science-fiction, but I don't read nearly enough of it...

      That's too bad that women do not play a central role in such popular books. It was just a matter of having to point it out than being really bothered by hit. I suppose I expected it.


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