In the 1950’s and 1960’s the “big three” of Science Fiction were Isaac Asimov, Arthur C Clarke and Robert Heinlein, all three are required reading for any real fan of the genre.
There are two schools of thought on how to approach Asimov’s epic “Foundation” series. The original trilogy consisting of “Foundation”, “Foundation and Empire” and “Second Foundation” were written in the 1950’s. Later in the 1980’s and 1990’s Asimov wrote two prequels, “Prelude to Foundation” and “Forward the Foundation” and two sequels to the original trilogy, “Foundations Edge” and “Foundation and Earth.” Some urge newcomers to read them in published order but I much prefer to approach the series in historical order, the order in which the events occur.
As with almost all writing from these periods, some of the technologies presented are to a certain point outdated. It is easy for us now to consider the lack of smart phones and the internet bit of an oversight but it does not affect overall enjoyment of the story and the remainder of the technology is advanced enough to be well beyond us today.
While "Prelude to Foundation" discusses events on a huge galactic scale it really focuses on the life of one man, Hari Seldon and his quest to develop the science of “Psychohistory” which will, when perfected, predict the future of large scale events surrounding societies and their governmental structures, such as a collapse of a galactic empire. It takes place on the crowded forty billion inhabitant, capital planet of a galaxy wide empire called “Trantor” which is divided into zones that blanket the entire planet.
The novel starts out with Hari arriving on Trantor for the first time to present a paper on his yet undeveloped "Psychohistory" to a mathematics symposium. As the book proceeds it leads you through an exploration of the technology, government and various social structures of Trantor, all of which serve to provide the foundation (sorry) for Hari’s later development of Psychohistory.
Do not expect a space opera with new excitement and thrills at every turn; this is not that type story. On the other hand, do not think I am saying "Prelude to Foundation" is in any way boring, the novel is a delight to listen to. Throughout the adventure it keeps you thinking about Trantor, the societies involved and the interesting storyline. The book is direct, to the point without a lot of useless meandering and moves not at a rapid but rather a nice comfortable pace.
When finished, you will be eager to continue the journey to see if Hari can complete his Psychohistory project, which is so important for the future of humanity.
How was the narration? Well, it is narrated by Scott Brick, need I say more!
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