It is the year 12,020 G.E. and Emperor Cleon I sits uneasily on the Imperial throne of Trantor. Here in the great multidomed capital of the Galactic Empire, forty billion people have created a civilization of unimaginable technological and cultural complexity. Yet Cleon knows there are those who would see him fall - those whom he would destroy if only he could read the future.
Hari Seldon has come to Trantor to deliver his paper on psychohistory, his remarkable theory of prediction. Little does the young Outworld mathematician know that he has already sealed his fate and the fate of humanity. For Hari possesses the prophetic power that makes him the most wanted man in the Empire... the man who holds the key to the future - an apocalyptic power to be know forever after as the Foundation.
Listen to all of Isaac Asimov's Foundation series, including (in chronological order):
©1988 Isaac Asimov (P)2011 Random House
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As with almost all writing from these periods, some of the technologies presented are to a certain point outdated.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!
Easily one of my favourites.
Parts I can't mention in order to avoid spoiling the book for others who haven't read/listened to this book. I will say there are some moments of surprise that I loved.
I don't have one particular favourite scene but I loved diving into the world of the empire and following Harry and Dors around. The different worlds and sectors made the book exciting and has now lead me to listen to all the books in this (The Foundation) series.
Again I don't want to ruin any surprises in the book but I do like the surprises that are in this story and I love the concept of Psychohistory and its role in this story and the series.
I've listened to the books in chronological order of the The Foundation series universe and this being the first I listened to really got me interested in the whole series.
This for me was one of the best books in the series and I found subsequent books in this series mixed with some as good as this story and some difficult to stayed interested in.
Overall I love the entire Foundation series and am currently finishing off the last book.
This is a great sci-fi story. First book chronologically in the Foundation series. It was engaging from beginning to end. The narrator was fantastic. I couldn't put this book down, so to speak.
The performance is top notch - very engaging. The story (which I was not familiar with in advance) is quite good if perhaps a little light on character backstory/development but the plot and setting/imagery is outstanding.
The reveal of the shocker at the climax - I didn't see it coming.
His voicings of the characters convey a wide range of emotions (more than the text alone could) without devolving into cartoonishness.
I actually laughed out loud as I was driving (alone) when the shocker was revealed during the climax.
Looking forward to the rest of the Foundation series!
No... the Foundation series is "just okay," in my opinion. The earlier books (written earlier) were interesting primarily because of their examination of social mores and structures. None is what I'd been expecting from a "science fiction" classic. This one is obviously written by an author more experienced and shaped by fans' desires for "a normal novel," and it's not a particularly interesting one.
Not write it... the "prequel" thing doesn't work.
As good as any; he's a great narrator.
I hope not.
A more interesting story line. This book relies on the fame of the foundation series and has no story line of it's own.
Because there is very little story development this book relies on bickering between characters and forced action scenes to keep going. If you love the Foundation series so much you absolutely have to have more, go ahead and read this book, otherwise skip it. The most disappointing thing for me was that I remember enjoying the Foundation Trilogy and this did not compare.
Ok fellow Foundation fans - this review is not pretty (but, there are also no spoilers), but it's honest. And it's from a fellow Foundation fanatic who LOVED the first five books.
Plain and simple, there is not story here. Instead of clever plot twists and surprises, you get one straight-forward, predictable read, without the slightest interesting story until the final 30 pages of the book. The last 30 pages contain several large, ingenious surprises. Problem is, none of the previous story was needed to justify the final surprises.
In the first five books, we have a genius of a storyline with great suspense. In this book, no suspense to speak of. Someone gets left atop a rooftop and almost freezes to death, then someone complains that they have to wear a bald wig on a planet, then someone gets in a knife fight, and really nothing enlightening happens along the way.
I suggest you read the final 30-50 pages and call it a day. Trust a fan of the first five books, the high ratings this book is receiving would NOT have been provided had this been the first book in the Foundation series. There's no story here.
Caveat, The narrator did a Fantastic job.
I work full time in Financial Services, teach part time, listen to music (a lot) and love Science Fiction and Speculative Fiction.
Harry Seldon Begins...
This book is consistent with Asimov's writing style throughout his career. There is a nicely tied up ending, that begs another question(s) ... if you liked his other books, you will love this one as well. I would say the ending was terrific, but the scenes in the region where hair was unacceptable were priceless...
Scott always does a great job, I wish he did the last 2 books in this series, but that should not stop anyone from reading this book. Scott does great job.
No, too long, but that is not a negative. These books become companions, and spending time with them is time spent well.
Asimov is a unique writer. There is depth but this is not over philosophical. The characters are developed but these are not character studies. These are old fashion stories, meant to entertain, challenge your ideas and keep you involved. They are based on logic, not fighting or sex or melodrama. The story evolves, reveals itself and enthralls you until the end. I always suspect Asimov wrote these to primarily amuse himself, and the reader is invited into that approach. I highly recommend this book to any Asimov fan or fan of the Foundation Series.
I really enjoyed this story and am looking forward to listening to the rest of the foundation books. I love Science fiction and am surprised it has taken me this long to read this series.
I also thought that the narration was excellent.
No Pink Ponies
Isaac Asimov revisited his Foundation series with a prequel decades after he wrote, first the Foundation Trilogy in the 50s, then went on to write sequential novels in the 80s and 90s. Though this is the first of the Foundation books set in the Galactic Empire period, it appeared more or less in the middle of the publication timeline. So if you have read the Foundation books, you will enjoy the back story of psychohistorian Hari Selden. While this story in some ways lacks the youthful enthusiasm and drama of the earliest Foundation novels from the 50s, it's still a good story and there is lots of action (that is, Asimov action, which consists of pursuit scenes, mainly and not a lot of shoot-em-up or sex. Well, almost none, in fact.) The reading by Scott Brick is as always, absolutely the best there is. Subtle character voice changes, no weird pretending to yell in a half-loud voice, or other irritating quirks, and that resonant voice we've come to love, nay, be addicted to. I'm only annoyed that due to Brick going out on his own as a voice star, the last Foundation Novel is not read by him, doubtless a contract problem and a shame that the end of the series doesn't have the same reader.
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