Author: Isaac Asimov
Some works manage to stand the test of time and retain their power, while others that may have been revolutionary at the time of their release, become obsolete. Foundation is the latter.
The first in a trilogy of books from the legendary science fiction author from the “Golden Age of Sci-Fi”, Isaac Asimov, Foundation is a collection of smaller books that were then collected into one single novel. Foundation is an extremely important work within the genre. It featured world building on a scale that had never been seen before, and paved the way for future authors to attempt the same. The story is about an organization of scholars known as the Foundation. Its founder Hari Seldon has predicted that in a thousand years time, the empire that rules the galaxy will collapse and civilization will fall into a new dark age. Seldon’s goal is not to avert the collapse, because he does not think that it can. However, he does think he can mitigate it, and get civilization back on track with the right preparations. He gathers the brightest minds of the galaxy to preserve knowledge so that the galaxy has a fighting chance at recovery.
While Asimov’s vision of the future, and his concepts such as “psychohistory” are interesting and have been very influential, the book fails to live up to its reputation because of uninteresting characters, a very boring writing style, stilted dialogue, and an overall feeling of being undercooked.
The characters in Foundation are two dimensional at best, and blend in with each other. Every one of them is basically the same. They’re very intelligent, and have conversations with other characters about economics, history, strategy, and other very important matters. Said conversations are just long, boring dumps of exposition where no one talks like an actual human being. Characters use phrases of exclamation such as “Great space!” or “Great galloping galaxies!” These aren’t dramatic, just goofy. Dialogue was definitely not Asimov’s strong suit. His characterization even less so. None of them develop, and each book focuses on a different era of time in the Foundation’s history, and the chapters and books are already very short and easy to read through.
In addition to the bad characters and laughable dialogue, Foundation is written in a very bland way lacking any style. He occasionally has interesting and well written descriptions of the world in Foundation, but these are few and far between and are mostly in the first couple of chapters. Some writers don’t spend too much time on meaningless details, but going in the opposite direction can be just as bad. Other writers will use a minimalist, dry style to convey atmosphere or get a reader into the mindset of a character. Asimov’s prose is just minimalistic because he seemed to have no interest in refining it. He may have had good ideas, but those ideas do not make for an interesting read.
Foundation is a dull, average read. It has been left in the dust for a long time now by better science fiction novels and films. Only people with an interest in the history of the genre will find something of value. Others should just find something else to read.