Probably one of the first “epic” series of science fiction books that I had the pleasure of reading. The Foundation Series written by Isaac Asimov – a grandmaster of Science Fiction and along with Arthur C. Clarke & L.Ron Hubbard, one of the grandaddies of the genre – is a series of novels spanning a 500 year future dealing with the fall and rebirth of the galactic empire.
The initial Foundation series was tied to the first trilogy of books that he published, however, subsequent to this, the Robot Series and Empire Series were tied into this same fictional universe by some key and specific characters so that in total the time span covered is almost twenty thousand years!
The basic story is as follows –
Hari Seldon a mathematician in the 1st empire, determines that the fall of the empire is not only eminent but inevitable. He bases this on his “new” science of mathematics called psychohistory which works on the principle that the behaviour of a mass of people is predictable if the quantity of this mass is very large (equal to the population of the galaxy, which has a population of quadrillions of humans, inhabiting millions of star systems). The larger the number, the more predictable is the future. Using this “new math”, Hari Seldon is able to “predict” the future, but only on a large scale and is able to forsee the fall of the Galactic Empire and that the ensuing dark age will last 30,000 years before a second empire arises to replace it.
To shorten this period of anarchy and barbarism, Hari sets up two separate foundations at “opposite ends of the galaxy” with the intention of reducing the dark age from 30,000 years to a mere 1,000 years. Each foundation is to have seperate skills and scope so that combined they are stronger than either of them would be separately.
The First Foundation is located on the planet Terminus, on the extreme edge of the galaxy.
The people living there, are working on the all-encompassing Encyclopedia, and are unaware of Seldon’s real intentions (for if they were, the variables would become too uncontrolled). The Encyclopedia serves to preserve knowledge of the physical sciences after the collapse and this foundation is primarily based on science and technology.
The Second Foundation is located at … (well this is actually one of the better surprises of the series so I hope you don’t mind too much if I don’t tell you and let you find out for yourself! Or you could read my review of that book when I write it!) … and they are the keepers of Hari’s vision making sure that it stays on track and that no unforseen concequences impact the plan. They are dedicated more to the science of the mind vs. the physical sciences and their skills complement and complete the First Foundations.
- Prelude to Foundation
- Forward the Foundation
- Foundation and Empire
- Second Foundation
- Foundation’s Edge
- Foundation and Earth