Friday, January 06, 2012

Book Review: Foundation Trilogy by Asimov

Want to start reading some good science fiction? Pick up the Foundation series by Isaac Asimov.

Asimov was a prolific writer. The foundation series comprises many books. The first three are called "Foundation", "Foundation and Empire" and "Second Foundation".

The books have an interesting premise: the behavior of individual humans is unpredictable, but the behavior of a large number of people can be collectively predicted. This is similar to the behavior of molecules of a gas, or movements of electrons. It is an interesting idea, and Asimov takes this concept and writes a kind of history for the Galactic Empire. In the introduction, Asimov says that he wanted to write a science fiction book, modeled on Gibbon's History of the Roman Empire.

The first three books are very interesting, though I did find my interest flagging in the third book. As expected, the first is the strongest. It talks of how the first Foundation was established, and how they made it through their turbulent years. The second book talks of how the Foundation faced very determined opposition, and how it escaped through it. The third talks of the second Foundation, whether it was indeed established, and what happened to it.

I don't read too much science fiction, and I am impatient when reading fiction. The foundation series were a great introduction to the genre. They are old now, but they are short and punchy. After reading the first book you'll have a pretty good idea whether you like the genre.

Science fiction is a popular genre among computer engineers and programmers. Imagining the future gives the author a lot of room to imagine a better future. The first Foundation books were published in 1952. Fifty years in the future, I was wondering how much of the world has changed. Looking back at old science fiction gives you an idea of what the older generations were hoping for.

The first three books are a great trilogy to start reading science fiction.