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Review: Isaac Asimov, Forward the Foundation

Forward the Foundation is the last  book Asimov wrote for his Robot/Foundation metaseries. It is the second book about Seldon’s efforts to develop his psychohistory science, a way of predicting the future using statistics. The events in the book take place after Prelude to Foundation and before the first book of the original Foundation trilogy. Like Prelude to Foundation, the book is mainly about the difficulties Seldon has in his research. He has enemies and opponents who make life difficult for him, and friends who can do little to help him. All this is set against a backdrop of a decaying empire.

It is an odd book, mainly because its just not a very good story. In fact, it is several stories in a row, each with the psychohistory development as their background thread, Seldon and a few others as main characters, and a continuing trend towards making Seldon’s goals seem more hopeless with each passing page. Seldon is able to overcome every hurdle through coincidences, which is also what brings the book to  a happy end in which he can set up things so that humanity is spared a thirty thousand year long Middle Ages.

Apart from the fact that this unlikely rescue seems to contradict the very idea of psychohistory, it also makes for an unsatisfying book. Except for Prelude, Asimov’s characters usually solve their problems using logic and ingenuity, which is what makes them so incredibly fun to read. Also very unsatisfying is the sudden disappearance of a few main characters without any kind of explanation or closure. If Asimov wanted the reader to feel Seldon’s loss, that is not the way to do it.


Categorised as: books


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