Foundation, by Isaac Asimov

The galactic empire is in decline. Hari Seldon, the mathematician who has developed the science of psychohistory, works out that thirty millenia of otherwise inevitable anarchy can be averted by the setting up of a scientific foundation at the edge of the galaxy.

I can't remember when I last read this, but the overall theme is still familiar, and that's because it's such a good idea that it stuck in my mind. The concept of psychohistory - making detailed predictions about the way that a suitably large civilisation will develop - is at the same time plausible and intriguing. And in this book, things fall into place to confirm Seldon's hypotheses.

In fact although it's a science fiction book, it is more like a series of detective stories. The sections in the book tell of various crises that the Foundation experiences, and these are all presented as puzzles which the protagonists have to solve. The overall narrative, of the Foundation gradually growing in strength, and the way that it achieves this strength, is very believable.

Because the book covers a period of several hundred years, there are a lot of characters in it (human lifespan seems to be the same as ours), and Asimov doesn't really do a lot to differentiate between them - he is more into ideas and plot than characterisation. So it is a little confusing at first, because you try to remember who is who, but once you stop trying, you get pulled along by the story.

Looking forward to reading the next one.

Completed : 13-Jun-2006

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