Asimov’s reputation as one of the greatest science fiction writers has true merit. Foundation is the genre at it’s strongest, it uses the story of others worlds and other times to examine and deconstruct our own.
Foundation tells the story of the downfall of a capitalist, far reaching state that decays under it’s own mass. It has grown too large and lived too long to be able to support itself fully. The titular Foundation is the apparent cure – a lie to the state that it can be protected, when really its fall is inevitable. Instead, the Foundation is the preparation for what comes next. What happens when a country falls to ruin?
Without spoiling much, Foundation explores the roles of trade, religion and political movements among neighbouring states and in the hands of those who seek the share their benefits and those who would use them for self protection and isolation.
The writing is fantastic. Aside from a typo here and there, the pacing it superb and reads like Asimov has chosen specific events from a saga to tell. He chooses the crises to magnify the actions of a select few individuals who are in positions to see them coming and adapt. You read through their positions, their actions and you see the consequences on the next generation and the next crisis. The story flows very well, it engages throughout and it never fails to make you think.
In one story, Asimov explores the tides of civilisation from the perspective of the people pushing through that change, and makes even the most hard line and divisive decisions understandable and compelling. Foundation serves as a warning that civilisations rise and fall, that changes will come that are far larger than a single individual and they are inevitable.
It’s a fantastic read, and a true icon of science fiction.