For 12,000 years the Galactic Empire has ruled supreme. Now it is dying. But only Hari Sheldon, creator of the revolutionary science of psychohistory, can see into the future, to a dark age of ignorance, barbarism, and warfare that will last 30,000 years. To preserve knowledge and save mankind, Seldon gathers the best minds in the Empire, both scientists and scholars, and brings them to a bleak planet at the edge of the Galaxy to serve as a beacon of hope for a fututre generations. He calls his sanctuary the Foundation.
But soon the fledgling Foundation finds itself at the mercy of corrupt warlords rising in the wake of the receding Empire. Mankind's last best hope is faced with an agonizing choice: submit to the barbarians and be overrun or fight them and be destroyed.
Listen to all of Isaac Asimov's Foundation series, including (in chronological order):
©1982 Isaac Asimov (P)2010 Random House
Asimov is superb, particularly when one considers that he started writing this series in the early 1950s. As a result it reads and sounds like the period. For all that, this is a great classic and Scott Brick is an excellent reader. The story and cast of characters is much more complex than the average novel. I found that a 2nd listen not only made everything clearer, but was even more enjoyable than the first.
A few reviewers comment on dropped sentences. It helps to have access to the printed version. Chapters are frequently introduced with excerpts of the fictitious Encyclopedia Galactica, and these excerpts are - in both the print and Audible version - often dropped mid-sentence. This is Asimov.
Highly recommended for any SciFi fan.
This is a work of creative genius. The plot is intricate and compelling, breath-taking in its scope, and wildy imaginative. The characters aren't terribly well-developed, and the dialogue is sometimes cheesy, but that almost doesn't matter because my focus was drawn, again and again, to the "big picture". As soon as I think I've lost interest, Asimov drops a bombshell plot twist, and I'm back. Fantastic.
Having heard so much about Asimov, I was expecting to thoroughly enjoy Foundation. Having finished the book, I wouldn’t say that I hated the book or even really disliked it so much as I simply wasn’t impressed. I don’t plan to listen to the rest of the series. Over and over again as I was listening, I thought that the book simply has not stood up to the test of time. It just felt dated and old, like watching a classic movie comedy that never makes you smile, even though you know that it was really funny back when it first came out.
The writing style was not very engaging to the modern reader. Two quick examples:
1) Almost zero character development. Foundation actually functions like 4 mini-books within the larger book and I never found myself caring for any of the characters. You are with each for a short amount of time and then you can forget about them entirely. The plot is the only thing that matters.
2) Very little action. I realize I’m from the Nintendo generation and that might mean my attention span is lacking. But seriously, can’t we get a chase scene or a fight or something? There was a military coup that we actually didn’t get to see and even a hostage situation on a hostile planet never got my blood racing.
The narration was adequate but nothing about it made Scott Brick seem particularly noteworthy. Perhaps this is not the best book on which to to judge Brick since Foundation is such a marathon dialogue session. You won’t like the book any less because of Brick’s narration, but I suppose you won’t like it any more either.
If you enjoy science fiction and are interested in reading a classic work, by all means, dive right in. Also, if you are the kind of person that enjoys old things and are able to appreciate them for what they are without being distracted by the additional flaws that come with age, you might also enjoy Foundation. Otherwise, you are likely to be disappointed with this read.
I enjoyed listening to this. It was one of the first major works of SciFi that I ever read.
Why on earth did the word "psychohistory" (and all derivatives thereof) become "psychology?" Where in the book they talk about psychohistorians, they talk about psychologists in the audiobook. What happened? Did the word get globally replaced by a spellchecker in the final copy of the script?
I'm almost finished with the book and I have found no problems with the narration or editing. I can see what other people mean about it being a bit difficult to keep track of all the characters and figure out who is talking, but keep in mind (for those like myself who are new to the Foundation series) that the book moves from epoch to epoch, with each story having a manageable number of characters. I also agree that the narrator (Scott Brick) doesn't do the best job I've heard him do of distinguishing between characters, but it's really not bad.
On the content side, I'm a fan of many Star Wars books and a few others by authors like Kevin J Anderson and Timothy Zahn but had never read much of Asimov. I'm already hooked and looking forward to the rest of the books in this immense series.
I first read Asimov's original Foundation Triology Back in the early 60's. Later, as he added volumes to the Foundation series, I would grab up every Foundation book as they came out, ending with Foundation and Earth in 1986. I have always recommended Asimov to friends and acquaintances as a "classic" to be be read by all Sci-Fi fans.
A few months ago, I noticed "Prelude to Foundation" when browsing through Audible to find my next "listen." I also decided to download the rest of the series so I could go through it all again in sequential order.
Quite obviously, I had no doubt about Asimov as I've have been a reader of his for over 50 years now. I was quite impressed with the reader and also very impressed that he seems to be the reader for all books in the series so we gain the continuity of the presentation.
I just cannot recommend the Foundation stories highly enough. Again, a classic and so very well performed by Scott Brick.
One word of caution to readers/listeners to Asimove's style. There are times it seems, in all his writing that he begins to edge into a tangent of over description whether it be a personality, an event, or just a segment of the story. DO NOT let this cause dismay and do not allow yourself to drift, waiting for the dialog to pick up. It is all so important to end up with a genuine undersstanding of the story. All will come true to your expectations.
I know this review is on the first book written (Foundation) but I cannot help but speak of the entire works. Asimov is timeless. The reader, superb. Do yourself a favor and commit to the entire works of Foundation. When you're done, you'll want to pursue the Robot books as well as the Empire books. Asimove wrote much and in the end you'll wish he wrote more.
Fast plotting, lots of twists, and cool use of
For the first time in years I had to turn off the ipod and buy a hard copy of the book so I could finish this great story. The narrator, Scott Brick, voiced all the characters with such a snarky, arrogant persona that it highly distracted from the plot. Sometimes I couldn't even follow the dialog because I was wondering why two characters would be talking to each other in such condescending tones.
I can't understand why this guy is such a popular narrator. I won't buy another audible title if he's doing the reading!
I'm the managing editor of the Fantasy Literature blog. Life's too short to read bad books!
I love Isaac Asimov’s ideas, but I just couldn’t suspend disbelief for the plot of this famous novel. The premise is that Hari Seldon, a psychohistorian, has calculated the course of history and made preparations for preserving humanity on a distant planet. I think it’s the psychologist in me that just can’t get past this premise. There’s no way that history can be predicted — there are just too many factors. Another issue I have with Asimov, and it’s so blatantly displayed here, is that though he could imagine all sorts of futuristic technology and possible histories, he didn’t seem to be able to imagine that someday women might find their way out of their kitchens and bedrooms.
As always, Scott Brick gives a nice performance.
"On Audible at last!"
A brilliantly thought out book that was a pleasure to listen to. The story is ambitious in scale to say the least but Asimov is more than up to the task and creates a fascinating world in which to immerse the reader. The format is that of short stories encapsulated within the broader Galactic history. These stories drive the prophecy of Hari Sheldon with glacial inevitability - they are clever and the characters engaging and sharp in their depiction. I will definitely be finishing the trilogy. As always, Scott Brick does a great job of narrating this epic series.
"A great interpretation of Foundation"
Foundation is clearly one of the best science fiction books ever written. Any audiobook interpretation of a good story can be compromised both by choice of reader and the addition of background music or sound effects. I have listened to both versions of Foundation offered by Audible narrated by Scott Brick and Jim Gallant. The Scott Brick interpretation completely outclasses the Jim Gallant version. To be fair, Scott Brick has the advantage of working with the unabridged book and he does a wonderful job - his narration is clear and his phrasing is good whereas Jim Gallant had to work with an abridged version padded by long periods of awful music. Anyone listening to this version of Asomov's greatest stories will, I am sure, not be disappointed.
"A strange experience"
It is what it is!
Yes, of course
There aren't any characters - that's one of the problems with the book. But probably Hardin.
This was a strange experience. I remember loving this as a teenager, but this comes across rather poorly now. It's not the outmoded attitude towards technology - Asimov can't be blamed for that. It's just the stories. They are pretty dry - it's all very talk driven. Most of the characters are interchangeable, and there's barely a woman in the entire book.
It's funny how attitudes change. That said, I'll still probably listen to the next one at some point. But not now - I need something with more dynamics!
Oh, Scott Brick does a very decent job - particularly as the text is 80% dialogue!
"A Classic Written By A Genius"
I've read and re-read the Fountain books 'til the spines broke. As an introduction to Sci-Fi it still stands as a great epic. I love the thought processes of the characters, the ideas and plot twists.
When the true purpose of the Foundation is revealed and the extent Harry Seldon has planned becomes apparent.
I thought Scott Brick did very well in coping with a multitude of characters and did not let it become 'pantomime' in any way.
Every time there is a triumph of reason and thought over aggression and bullying - a point that is laboured throughout the Foundation Saga but still gets me every time.
"A classic from a different age"
Foundation is from a different age and it it feels it.
It is no doubt a true classic and it is vasty influential, but I did find it difficult to like.
One of the problems is that the story is all about the idea of a 1000 year plan to save civilisation, there are characters in the story, but they are difficult to tell apart.
This is a basic problem with the story and nothing to do with the performance of the work, Scott Brick does a good job with material, but it is difficult to make such a work, interesting .
The attitude towards technology and notably women also feels very dated.
Having said all of this, I probably will try the next book in the series, since this was written as a single story, rather than as a series of linked short stories maybe that will work better?
"I wasn't sure when I chose it...."
Foundation is one of the best audiobooks I have purchased, its right at the top of the pile.
I have always been a fan of sci fi but I really enjoyed the low fantasy element. This led to a more plot and character driven story.
I wasn't sure about Scott Brick to start with although after a while I found his performance to be pleasant and clear.
I think its a lot of story to listen to in one go and found it better to break the story into parts to let me think about the plot.
"asimov at his best"
For me the narrator seemed just to fit the part and his voice (Unlike many others) did not intrude into the story line
Just griping from start to finish
This question seemes to paraphrase the question before last "What was one of the most memorable moments of Foundation"? so I refer to that answer
Asimovs depth of story line and characters have such relevance and a great understanding of our own society. The Foundation Trilogy could be said to almost explain some of the theories of Karl Marxy. Any one who reads the Foundation should without doubt get the rest of the Trilogy
"Worthy but a bit dull"
I feel duty-bound to post a review to counterbalance those of the ardent fans here who might perhaps give an unbalanced impression to a broader audience. ‘Foundation’ starts with the clever (though nonsensical) premise of ‘psychohistory’ which Asimov uses to connect a handful of stories that were originally published as standalones. The trouble for me at least is that all the stories are rather dull, with as much intricacy and challenge as an episode of ‘Star Trek’. This is a pity, because Asimov was notable for his ability to create brain-teasers, such as the ‘I Robot’ collection, that leave you as pleasantly satisfied as any Agatha Christie. By comparison, ‘Foundation’ feels to me like going through the motions, and its scale and scope don’t help much. Obviously this is all a matter of taste, and you may feel the book’s worth hearing simply because any sci-fi fan ought to. I just think you’ll enjoy it more if you don’t go in expecting it to be as good as the best sci-fi – or even the best Asimov.
"Fantastic future history on a galaxy-wide scale"
The definitive sci-fi, a history of the far future, with a scope across the whole galaxy, but almost contemporary in the politics and dreams of the frontier. This and the two sequels must be read - by sci-fi, but also by politics and philosophy students alike.
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