This review took a while because I figured that since this series is quite old at this point, if you’re into it, you’re going to read the whole lot. All 7 books. Which seem to get thicker the further in you get.
Foundation is probably Isaac Asimov’s magnum opus, if it’s possible to narrow that field down from an author so damn prolific. The setting is so far into the future that Earth isn’t even a memory anymore, just a rumor. 25 million planets are inhabited by human beings and they are held together by an empire. But the empire is crumbling.
Hari Seldon, a renowned mathematician, knows the empire is crumbling. He knows this because of a branch of mathematics he invented called psychohistory. By looking at social and historical trends over the past millennia, Seldon can effectively predict the future. A singular person isn’t predictable, but large groups of people are, especially if you insert certain guidelines to increase the odds of a better future. But Seldon discovered this very late, and he can’t stop the destruction of the empire, he can only shorten the period between its fall and the rise of a newer, better empire.
To that end he establishes a foundation at the end of the galaxy that he predicts in one thousand years will rise up and form the basis of the new empire.
The books are quite fascinating. I won’t go into the plot of each separate one because that would take forever. But suffice to say, there is a lot of variety. The early Foundation figuring out how to conquer enemies through wit not force. Fighting a mutant with mind control, searching for the fabled Earth. It’s pretty expansive.
As a series, it’s incredible. The scope and depth is fantastic. There are a lot of characters you’ll love. There’s a lot you’ll be bored by. It’s a balance between page turning action and sometimes mind numbing conversations that you know are interesting, but not just now.
If you love sci-fi, it’s a must read. But it will take a while.
3 1/2 out of 4 stars.
P.S. The series was written in a non-linear order. And it ends with a prequel technically. I think reading the original trilogy, then the two prequels, followed by the final two books is the best order to read the series in. This is that order:
Foundation and Empire
Prelude to Foundation
Forward the Foundation
Foundation and Earth