The Foundation Trilogy



The most recent book series that I read was The Foundation Trilogy (including Foundation, Foundation and Empire, and Second Foundation), Isaac Asimov’s science fiction book series revolving around a fictional academic discipline known as “psychohistory,” in which it was contended that although individual actions over the course of history are unpredictable, collective actions can be statistically significant and predicted over the course of an extended period. The master psychohistorian, Hari Seldon, foresaw the inevitable death of the Galactic Empire that would lead to 30,000 years of barbarism, and sought to reduce the 30,000 years to merely 2,000 by setting up two “Foundations” that would carry out his plans for the future.

The Foundation Trilogy won the one-time Hugo Award for “Best All-Time Series” in 1966, and is supposedly one of these must-read series for people interested in science fiction. I have always been deeply impressed by science fiction works like The Three Body Problem, and reading The Foundation Trilogy seemed like an obvious choice.

What struck me the most was how, despite being written over half a century ago, the series was able to still feel “real” in the modern world nowadays. I expected to come to a story that feels “fake” because of how much it deviates from how the world actually progressed over the years. However, The Foundation Trilogy defied my expectations, because it didn’t feel “fake” at all. All of these developments detailed in the series could very much be plausible in the future, which goes to show how Asimov’s immaculate imagination leads to an incredible story.

An other intricacy that came to light while reading the story was how it was able to effectively capture grand scenes. In the first book of the series, Foundation, a character just exited the Empire’s spaceport, and it read,

This is only a small glimpse of the story, but it shows how far words can go in a story like The Foundation Trilogy.

One of the issues that you would probably also face while reading the book is how it slowly starts to repeat itself. The first book, Foundation, and the first part of the second book, Foundation and Empire, discussed stories of how the Foundation was able to overcome crises set out in the master psychohistorian Hari Seldon’s plan. The formula for the story soon becomes obvious after you read for a little bit: a crisis rises and the Foundation wins. Thankfully though, just as I’m about to get bored, the story breaks the formula and continues to spiral forward in interesting and unexpected ways. So by all means, if you are feeling bored, continue to read.

Overall, I think The Foundation Trilogy is amazing. The story offered an escape for my exhausting life through its intricate storytelling and twists and turns, and would probably do the same for you. It’s a 9/10 for me. (June 2, 2024)