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By Matthew Kelly

Foundation, by Isaac Asimov, is not the stereotypical brand of Sci-Fi. It is not difficult to imagine a world that is so like your own, yet with technological advances here and there, as presented in Foundation. The novel, written in 1951, has no consistent group of characters; instead it switches between different groups of people at several intervals in which important events occur over the span of one thousand years. The lives of these peoples of the future are dictated by the Seldon plan. This plan was developed by Hari Seldon, Galaxy renowned Mathematician, using the radical science of Psychohistory, a form of arithmetic that predicts the broad economical and social trends of the future. Seldon discovers that the Galactic Empire, which has stood for over twelve thousand years, is about to collapse. He sends the greatest minds of all twenty-five million worlds in the empire to and obscure planet called Terminus at the edge of the galaxy. This Foundation is made to preserve knowledge, and make an Encyclopedia Galactic. Seldon also makes a second Foundation, at the other end of the galaxy that is rarely discussed. The Foundation will ensure that barbarism will not take hold of the galaxy, and that knowledge will not be lost. But only Hari Seldon himself knows the purpose of the Foundation. It is destined to be seed of the second galactic empire, and ruled over the galaxy with a more democratic framework, unlike the first empire with is corrupt and tyrannical rulers.

Asimov present us with several prominent characters, such as Hardin and Mallow, two influential mayors who are critical figures in the Foundation's history. And, of course, Hari Seldon himself, though he is never fully developed as a character, and only spoken of as a thing of legend. The book also chronicles the traders and merchants who spread the economical influence over the surrounding worlds. The mayors, and other leaders of the foundation are by no means bold or heroic; they must follow the Seldon Plan, which tells them what to do at certain crises in the Foundation's history.

Written in the 1950's, this book set a new standard for science fiction novels, though non-science fiction fans may not be drawn to it. However historical fiction readers may be intrigued by it also, because it follows the history of this Foundation, and details the different factors that bring about events. It reads much like a historical novel documenting a period in the past, though in this case, it takes place in the future.

I personally found this book to be very interesting in that while is a science fiction novel, it's conflicts and characters are appealing and ones to which we can relate. This genre of science fiction, in my opinion, is the best kind, because it deals with realistic problems, and not voyaging through space to battle green Martians and wielding ray guns.




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