***Group Read: Asimov's Foundation Series

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***Group Read: Asimov's Foundation Series

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1billiejean
Jan 23, 2012, 9:31am

Robert and I are reading the Foundation series in chronological order. I decided to make one thread for the whole series. Here is the order we will be reading the books:

Prelude to Foundation
Forward the Foundation
Foundation
Foundation and Empire
Second Foundation
Foundation's Edge
Foundation and Earth

This is my first time to read any Asimov! We are officially starting with Prelude to Foundation next weekend, January 28.

Please join us!

2LinuxLefty
Jan 23, 2012, 10:27am

Ohh... I love Asimov! I haven't read his foundation series ( thought my brother highly recommends it ). I have read ( and re-read ) I, Robot , though :D

3utbw42
Jan 23, 2012, 10:29am

I've read the whole series, but it was quite a while ago, and I've forgotten a lot of it (I don't retain crap when I read, major fault). Looking forward to reading the group discussion about it here....

4billiejean
Jan 23, 2012, 11:41pm

#2> My daughter has also read I, Robot and enjoyed it quite a bit.

#3> Please feel free to jump in with any comments. (I don't retain things either!)

5billiejean
Jan 23, 2012, 11:42pm

Oh, I am going to have to double check the order of the books. Somewhere I saw a list in a different order.

7Robertgreaves
Jan 26, 2012, 7:50am

Getting ready to start Prelude to Foundation tomorrow.

8DorsVenabili
Jan 26, 2012, 9:54am

I just noticed this. How exciting! I'm starring this thread. Although I can't join for a re-read, I've read them all. I, too, read Prelude to Foundation first, and was happy with that plan. Then I read the trilogy, the next two, and Forward the Foundation last, because I didn't know about it, I think (pre-constant-internet days).

Good luck!

9DirtPriest
Jan 26, 2012, 1:07pm

There's some things in Prelude that spoil the ending of Foundation and Earth a bit, but it works either way, really. Prelude delves into the workings of Trantor so it sets up the Empire for later reference, which starts out vague in the original trilogy, not to mention the mind of Hari Seldon. We'll see as we go along...

10billiejean
Jan 26, 2012, 7:28pm

Robert, did I get the order right? The author listed them in chronological order in my Prelude book, but he wrote it before writing all the books, I think. Anyway, is Forward the Foundation second or Foundation?

I am about 1/3 of the way through the book. I started early because I knew I had this big project for work (which is finished!!! And in the mail!!!).

So far, this is quite a fun read. I thought that Asimov would be difficult, but he is a great storyteller.

11billiejean
Jan 26, 2012, 7:30pm

#9> Have you read the Empire books, too? I am thinking that Asimov recommended reading those before the Foundation books, but I don't have any of them. I am enjoying this read enough to want to check those out, too.

12Robertgreaves
Jan 26, 2012, 8:43pm

10 Yes, BJ, the order you quote is the chronological story order. So the second book is Forward the Foundation. Asimov is a quick fun read, isn't he?

He has 3 groupings of books which can be read as a future history, the Robot books, the Empire books, and the Foundation books. They weren't really written to be one single series but you can read them like that. I think Asimov recommends reading the Robot series first, then the Empire, and then the Foundation.

I think I've read most of them but a long time ago in my teens and twenties.

13billiejean
Jan 27, 2012, 11:41am

OK, I haven't gotten all that far, but I have to mention that I think it is funny that the meteorologists all that far into the future still have trouble predicting the weather. :)

14DirtPriest
Editado: Jan 27, 2012, 10:18pm

You can easily read Foundation without having read all of the Robot and Empire Stories. They are just more detail about the earliest days of the Galactic Empire which is crumbling away under its own weight by the time we pick up the story. The Empire books are exceptionally good, in some ways better than Foundation. They don't have the continuity and finality though. And they exist in a cheap and easy to find Book-Club omnibus, The Empire Novels.

Anything that you become curious about as far as the Robot stories go, it is pretty easy to find a synopsis on Wikipedia of the mentioned books to get some basic information about the wars between man and his robot creations (pre-Empire). That's about all you will need to know to grok the discrimination against robots in such a far-flung future. Also, Asimov's Three Laws is an interesting read.

I was thinking about the 'spoiler' aspect of reading the Prelude books first. (Yes, Forward the F. is a sequel to the prequel.) It really isn't a spoiler per se, but the surprise ending is simply turned around backwards, if that makes any sense. I'm starting Prelude as soon as I'm done getting caught up with my Early Western Civ reading notes. Stupid Assyrians!

15Robertgreaves
Editado: Jan 28, 2012, 3:36am

I've read the first four chapters to Prelude to Foundation, and I'm struck by how much Rome is taken as the paradigm for an empire with frequent assassinations of emperors, revolts in the provinces, decaying intellectual life and physical infrastructure, and so on.

Also, according to the Encyclopedia Galactica, this period in Seldon's life is known as the 'Flight'. Does this work as a translation of Hejira? Seldon = Mohammad?

I wonder how much Asimov's ideas of psychohistory owe to Toynbee?

16Robertgreaves
Jan 31, 2012, 9:20pm

I've finished Prelude to Foundation. I must admit I'd forgotten how many references back to the Empire and Robot books there were (you don't have to have read them, but the references are there). I had been planning to read something else in between but Asimov has me hooked so I'm pressing on with Forward the Foundation.

17DirtPriest
Editado: Fev 1, 2012, 3:43am

Oh, for those days of easily logging a few hours of fun-time reading every day, or night, or both if I got lucky (or lazy). I'm just a few chapters in, trying to sneak in a half-hour or so of bedtime reading. None tonight though. Differential Equations is pretty hard, probably not for Hari though. I'm anxious to see how reading the preludes first influences the reading of the later books (chrono-wise). Now, if I can just keep up with the group...

(And now I see I won another book from Early Reviewers, a biography of Carl Hubbell. There's just not enough hours in the day...)

I particularly liked how Hari thought a girl was 'rather pretty', even though he couldn't see her face as she was leaning over a computer monitor in the park. That referenced me to his books of dirty limericks!! (Right before he meets Hummin and the lackeys in the park)

18billiejean
Fev 1, 2012, 10:34pm

I am a little over halfway through the book. There is a mention of the robots at the Sacratorium. I was wondering a little about the connection to Islam, but that could be from reading the Dune books.

I did see the movie I, Robot which is supposed to be based on the robot stories.

Interesting info on the home planet Earth or Aurora.

January was a tough month for work, but I think that February will be better.

I am not sure what I think of the psychohistory, but I gather this is really important to the series.

I hope to read a bit more each day than I have so far.

19ctpress
Fev 2, 2012, 10:49am

I have actually just started on Foundation when I saw this group read - thought it was the first book in the series....How fast are you guys expecting to read the series? A book a month or what? Maybe I should jump in when you reach Foundation. Read I, Robot last year and it was just, so, so....

20Erratic_Charmer
Fev 2, 2012, 1:21pm

I have the Foundation series and would really like to read it, so I'll join in too. I haven't read any of the books before - been a long time since I've enjoyed any good sci-fi :)

21Robertgreaves
Fev 2, 2012, 9:03pm

ctpress We were thinking of a week for each of the shorter books (Foundation, Foundation and Empire, and Second Foundation) and a fortnight for each of the longer ones.

We are reading them in chronological order of the story rather than the publication order. See message No. 1 above for the chronological order and message No. 6 for the publication order.

22billiejean
Fev 4, 2012, 2:29pm

I finally finished Prelude to Foundation, which is my first ever Asimov book. I thought that this prequel to the Foundation trilogy was a great scifi read. I was surprised by the ending which was fun. I am now looking for the next book in the series (also a prequel to the trilogy) Forward the Foundation. I can't wait to see where it starts.

23Erratic_Charmer
Fev 12, 2012, 10:08pm

I've finished Prelude as well and am going ahead with Forward the Foundation. One of the things I enjoy when reading science-fiction, particularly stuff that's more than ten years old, is comparing the fictional technology to things that we now have in real life. Sadly for Asimov's predictive powers, the Kindle that I read the book on is capable of a lot more than any of the 'book-tech' in the Prelude world - though it's nice to think that people might still be around and reading a couple of millennia in the future!

That aside, even though this book is a prequel to a series it still hints at a lot of interesting back-story. I'm curious about Earth and the planet Aurora and will have to look for other Asimov stories about those in the future.

24Robertgreaves
Editado: Fev 12, 2012, 11:06pm

I think the info about Earth and Aurora was to tie the Foundation books into his two other series, the Robot novels and the Empire novels. I'm going to put The Caves of Steel on my wishlist when I've finished the Foundation series as my memory of those events is very vague after 30 years.

25Robertgreaves
Fev 13, 2012, 9:02pm

I'm currently reading Foundation's Edge, which is set 498 years after the Foundation was established, and a historian is soooo excited because he's got his whole library on "a square wafer about twenty centimeters to the side."

"What's that, Professor?"

"My library. It's indexed by subject matter and origin and I've gotten it all into ONE wafer. If you think this ship is a marvel, how about this wafer? A whole library! Everything I have collected! Wonderful! Wonderful!"


26billiejean
Fev 17, 2012, 11:40am

I was wondering if Aurora and Earth were two different planets or the same planet with two different names?

Interesting discussion of taxes in section 3.

I am on the last section of Forward the Foundation. As always the closer I get to the end the more I want to get there. There were some surprises for me in this book.

27DirtPriest
Fev 17, 2012, 2:18pm

The Aurora/Earth dichotomy is explored later as the series wraps up in Foundation's Edge and F. and Earth.

I've finished both prelude volumes myself, somehow. I'm busy at school at the moment and will post more at home later...

28billiejean
Fev 18, 2012, 5:59pm

Thanks for letting me know. I never know if the things I wonder about will turn out to be answered or not. I had loads of questions on the beginning of Infinite Jest and my daughter kept answering me that it didn't matter. Which I found frustrating. I need to pick that book back up again.

I finished Forward the Foundation today. It was kind of like four mini-novels which are connected. The more I read it, the more I liked it. This is definitely a book to appeal to readers. I am starting Foundation at last, which I have thought about reading for years without ever doing it! I have the old trilogy in a three-in-one volume from B&N. Interestingly, it has the same font.

Lots happened in those 435 pages! I wonder if the other books will be like that?

29Robertgreaves
Fev 18, 2012, 6:12pm

The connected mini novels format is closer to the original trilogy.

30DirtPriest
Fev 19, 2012, 4:25am

Lots happens in the remainder! That's why I'm so excited. The only problem, if a problem it is, is that we've already got more of an idea of what goes on in the Foundation universe (or galaxy) than someone who started off with Foundation proper. Now we get to see Hari's ideas grow, instead of Hari himself. Part of the charm of the original books was that Hari was such a key figure but his character basically existed after chapter 1 or 2 as pre-programmed holograms of great import and as Galactic Encyclopedia entries, 116th Edition, Terminus. I can't think of another chronological series that has preludes that dovetail nicely either first or last.

A few things that I'd like to mention: I consider The End of Eternity to be an unofficial Foundation novel, sort of a Foundation-at-work story, without using the name itself (Hint-I refer to it as The End of Eternity and the Beginning of Infinity)

There's also a reference to Asimov's Nemesis as a fairy-tale story, which I've somehow never gotten to. Forward the F., Wanda Seldon chapter 5

Lastly, about the Aurora/Earth controversy. The key is to remember where the mythic stories came from. Aurora from Mycogen, and Earth from Dahl, and the attitude towards robots in each.

Have any of you read the Second Foundation Trilogy by Bear, Benford and Brin? I finally broke down and bought the one I had been missing for years online.

31billiejean
Editado: Fev 21, 2012, 11:35am

I think that the early books (prequels) got me excited about the original series. I am still at the beginning of Foundation, but I love Hari's character. He is spontaneous and stubborn. I got so much of it from the previous books. It makes me want to read more.

Thanks for the tips on The End of Eternity and the Second Foundation Trilogy. I wasn't familiar with them.

32DirtPriest
Fev 21, 2012, 12:28pm

They are definitely ancillary books to the group read but they are out there for later perusal. The Second F. Trilogy was based on idea outlines asimov left behind when he passed away. His wife approached a few of the great scifi authors of the time to do the writing based in Isaac's ideas. There is also a Foundation's Friends short story anthology out there.

33billiejean
Fev 21, 2012, 4:32pm

Kind of interesting that he didn't finish writing all he had to write when one sees the enormous numbers of books that he did write. And across quite a spectrum, too.

34DirtPriest
Editado: Fev 22, 2012, 3:32pm

He rarely did interviews either because he preferred to communicate by writing. Asimov has at least one book in every major division of the Dewey Decimal System.

35billiejean
Fev 22, 2012, 3:49pm

That is an interesting fact! I was trying to read the DDC, but kind of got sidetracked. I read so much more fiction.

36billiejean
Fev 24, 2012, 2:33pm

Ok, I finally got to the part with the first vault opening and boy was I surprised. I am wondering where the story will go from here. Somehow it seems more exciting now than I thought it would be.

37DirtPriest
Fev 24, 2012, 3:48pm

Now, the real journey begins.

38billiejean
Mar 2, 2012, 12:53pm

I have finally finished Foundation, which I thought was pretty good. However, I think that I enjoyed it more having read the two prequels to the trilogy. There is no character that carries through the book, so having an in depth knowledge of Hari Seldon helped me to be invested in the success of the Foundation.

On to Foundation and Empire. :)

39DirtPriest
Mar 4, 2012, 6:07pm

I like that point. The first time I read Foundation I kept wondering what the big deal was about that Hari guy, and never really got into the series. I reread it a year or so later in a totally different light.

I haven't had a chance to get started on it yet, what with a major book review for a history class and writing papers on some luminaries of early geology.

40Robertgreaves
Mar 4, 2012, 7:26pm

BJ, did you know the early books were actually written as short stories/novellas and then collected into books with linking material added?

41billiejean
Mar 5, 2012, 11:32am

They do read like short stories or novellas, which sort of makes sense when you look at how young Asimov was when he first published. I have finished the first half of Foundation and Empire, which I thought was terrific, and it is just like that with linked stories. I do think with the long time frame involved this format works really well. Quite a while ago, I read Last and First Men, which also deals with quite a long time frame, and I don't think that book handled it nearly as well as Asimov has here. To be fair, Last and First Men dealt with a much longer time frame even than this. Thinking back over H. G. Well's Time Machine, which also dealt with a quite long time frame, that book also read more like a collection of short stories with linking material.

The big thing missing with a series of novellas/short stories is the lack of world building which longer scifi novels have. I have to admit that sometimes there is too much attention to detail with that and I can lose interest there. So the prequels take care of that world building detail which is lacking here. But they are not too long, either. (And those books also had a short story/novella quality about them, too.) A lot of times, prequels are not that effective, but I think Asimov really did a great job with his.

I was thinking from talking with my daughter that the Robot books are also really short stories. I haven't read any of those yet. But I will after enjoying these books so much.

42Robertgreaves
Mar 8, 2012, 7:16pm

During my exercise programme I'm listening to BBC Radio's dramatisation of the original Foundation trilogy, which is freely available for download, details from open culture.

43billiejean
Mar 8, 2012, 7:18pm

I just finished Foundation and Empire, and I quite liked the way it ended, even if it was a bit of a cliffhanger. I guess Asimov planned all three books from the beginning? They mesh well together. I also liked the view of the imperfect Hari Seldon (even though I guess he really does have everything under control). First we hear that the encyclopedia is the big deal. But, no, not really, it is the Foundation. But, no, not really, it is the Second Foundation! It makes me wonder what the sequels hold in store. Also, I thought it was interesting that the Mule's greatest weakness was his humanity. I kind of liked that!

Sorry that I am so slow with the group read. But I am enjoying it quite a bit! :)

And by the way, they will after all publish that much-lauded encyclopedia! So maybe it was important after all.

44billiejean
Mar 8, 2012, 7:19pm

Thanks for the link! I would enjoy listening to that.

45Robertgreaves
Mar 8, 2012, 8:47pm

I've listened to the first two episodes (they're about an hour long each). Salvor Hardin has just outwitted Anacreon by having the "priests" go on strike.

46billiejean
Mar 12, 2012, 9:56pm

I just finished Second Foundation, which I did not expect to like as much as the other two. However, I liked it just as much. And I was happy that I figured out where the Second Foundation was located (thanks to all the clues!). I thought that this trilogy was well-thought out for such a new writer. Next up, Foundation's Edge.

47Robertgreaves
Mar 13, 2012, 2:11am

I was disappointed by the BBC's Visi-Sonor. I didn't see the beauties Bayta Darrell saw when it was being played. On the other hand, I didn't drop dead of fright like the prince, so I suppose that's a bonus.

48DirtPriest
Mar 13, 2012, 6:51pm

I couldn't be happier that you are enjoying Foundation, BJ. I wish I had time right now to read it along with the rest of you. I have three papers due over the next four weeks, all with research to be done in preparation.

49billiejean
Mar 13, 2012, 9:14pm

#47> I am certainly glad that you did not drop dead, too! I haven't had time to check the BBC series yet. I did think that Asimov was pretty forward thinking considering when it was written. There is more realistic futuristic stuff in the later books, I think.

#48> My brother had told me about these books in the 70s, but I just wasn't interested at that time. I am glad to have them to read now. :) Good luck with all those papers! I am sure you will do a great job.

50Prop2gether
Mar 20, 2012, 1:49pm

Just dropping in because I've read the original trilogy several times and thoroughly enjoyed it every time. Several years back I made the effort to complete all the books listed, and, once again enjoyed the ride. Asimov was such a character himself that it was fun just seeing where he would go with the story. I also have a strong recollection of a picture of him in his office where he had (pre-computer days) something like 25 typewriters, each one with a different story, novel, or article in some stage of writing. So enjoy the read!!!

51billiejean
Mar 31, 2012, 12:30am

Interesting story about all the typewriters with different stories in them. We are so spoiled now with word processors!

I am still at the beginning of Foundation's Edge. I have been a little under the weather, but I hope to get back to it soon.

52Robertgreaves
Abr 1, 2012, 10:42pm

Article from the Guardian linking The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, the rise of Islam, The Foundation Trilogy (plus nods in the direction of 'Star Wars' and 'Battlestar Galactica'), Dune, King Arthur, and The Lord of the Rings. Any other boxes you want ticked?

53billiejean
Abr 5, 2012, 6:56pm

Wow, interesting article. I have Gibbons on my shelf patiently waiting for me.

I just finished Foundation's Edge, and it is another great book by Asimov! This one seemed more like a tradtional novel to me. I found myself cheering on each party as the narrative switched to that party. Funny, huh? So, I am guessing the title is about what is on the edge of the Foundation rather than the advantage of the Foundation, but when reading I did wonder about the title some.

Now I am beginning to think that I will have to read all the fiction of Asimov. And I am eager to start the last Foundation book. Sorry that I have been so slow reading all of this.

54LunaMontras
Abr 5, 2012, 7:26pm

yes! i absolutely love asimov! have you read i robot? totally awesome:)

55billiejean
Abr 6, 2012, 5:33pm

I haven't read any of the robot stories. Both of my girls have read them, and they loved them.

56billiejean
Editado: Abr 27, 2012, 5:30pm

I am about 60% of the way through the last book. I just really could not stand Bliss, but now she is growing on me. And I like that everyone has skills to contribute. I just finished Solaria, which kind of reminded of that book Solaris, which I thought was excellent. I am beginning to think that I will, at last, complete the Foundation series.

57DirtPriest
Abr 28, 2012, 3:28pm

Cool beans!

58billiejean
Maio 9, 2012, 6:14pm

I am sorry that I have taken so long to report back, but I did finish the last book on April 30th. This was not my favorite book of the series, but I did think it had a great ending. So overall, I was pretty impressed with this Asimov series and I am glad that I read it.

59DirtPriest
Maio 10, 2012, 2:45am

I'm glad you liked it. It is a fine story and the good doctor always satisfies. I just haven't been in the mood for fiction of late and haven't been able to sink in to anything. Sad.

60billiejean
Maio 10, 2012, 7:32pm

I remember when you read all the Dune books. One of these days, I am going to do that. I think at one point I read three of them. I hope you find just the right book to read. Geology seems like a good choice.

61DirtPriest
Editado: Maio 11, 2012, 2:10am

I found a selection of old King Arthur stories that might be nice to read, An Arthurian Reader. That might fit the bill for side reading. We'll see.

62BritAbroad
Fev 27, 2014, 1:38pm

Have read 'Prelude to Foundation' and am now half way through 'Forward the Foundation' - and am enjoying every page. I read the Robots series as a teenager but never got around to the Foundation series, so this is my first go round. I am not super geeky, so Sci-Fi that is more about the human condition, in the future, is definitely what appeals to me. Obviously some of the parallels with the history of the time these books were written (and before) are very clear but at least Asimov doesn't bludgeon his readers with his personal biases, too much. Looking forward to getting through the whole series. I have decided to skip the 'estate approved' fill in novels, seeing as they seem to have gotten pretty bad reviews....Anyone have an opinion on those ?

63DirtPriest
Mar 25, 2014, 4:24pm

If you have the time for it, the Caliban series by Roger McBride Allen isn't all that bad, if a bit farfetched. It involves an interesting look at the development of robots without the three laws. A Cliff Notes version would be sufficient, however. I happened to have pdf's of them and read them on an ereader, they aren't worth hunting for in a bookstore. If you see the set for a few dollars go ahead, but don't fret over it. On the other hand, the Second Foundation books by Brin, Benford, and Bear are definitely worth it, even if you consider them a Star Trek mirror World version of the 'official' Foundation universe. There are a few things in the Benford book that I didn't care for, but the other two are pretty good. Also take a few evenings and read The End of Eternity and The Gods Themselves.