18 June 2010

Foundation by Isaac Asimov

Thoughts and Reflections:
I'm not entirely sure why I decided to read this book. I am not a big fan of science fiction or fantasy. Nonetheless, I felt ready for some escapist literature, so why not a good dose of sci-fi! It took me some pages to get used to the style of science fiction and be able to repeatedly suspend my disbelief, but I was soon caught up in the adventure.

I had heard that Asimov had changed the face of science fiction, yet was uncertain what this may have entailed. The novel was decidedly less of the high adventure, unexplained phenomena, and trixy gadgets than I was expecting. However, there was substantially more development of the political setting and economic factors. I was perhaps in the mood for something with more ridiculous adventure than political conflict and endless banter. However, once I switched my expectations, I thoroughly enjoyed the novel.

This book was interesting in that no character survived the duration of the novel. The story is stretched over a few hundred years. As a result, every section ushered an entirely new set of characters and a different political economic environment. I found this aspect both interesting and disconcerting. I often felt I wanted to know more information regarding the previous setting, but was forced into a new set of conditions. However, this book is a short novel and the first of a trilogy, intended to be the introduction and has certainly sparked my curiosity about what events may follow.

All in all, I enjoyed the novel and would say Isaac Asimov is a must read for all sci-fi lovers. I would also recommend this novel to those who are wary about sci-fi, because it doesn't necessary fit into the general style of sci-fi.

Brief Synopsis:
The novel is about a group of intellectuals who established a community on a desolate planet on the periphery of a decaying empire by one Hari Seldon. Hari Seldon used mathematics and psychology to predict the downfall of the empire and determine a means of limiting the dark years of barbarianism that would follow. Foundation is the story of the establishment of this community and its trials and tribulations in the first few hundred years of its establishment. I have absolutely no idea what events and characters will follow this first novel!

About the Author:
Asimov was born in Belarus (then Soviet Socialist Republic of Belorussia)in 1920, later relocating to the New York, USA with his parents. He began his writing career by submitting short storied to Science Fiction Pulp Magazines at the age of 19. He went to Seth Low Junior College for two years, then to Columbia University for the remainder of his master's degree, graduating in 1939. He eventually returned to earn a Ph.D. in biochemistry in 1948. After a brief stint in the US Military (from which he was honorably discharged), he joined faculty at the Boston University School of Medicine. This was in a non-teaching capacity and he turned to writing full-time. Asimov married Gertrude Blugerman in 1942 with whom he had two children. After a three year separation, he and Gertrude divorced in 1973 and Asimov married Janet Jeppson later that year.Asimov suffered a heart attack in 1977, and had triple bypass surgery in December 1983. However, when he died in 1992, the cause of death was heart and kidney failure. Asimov was a prolific writer and received a number of awards and 14 honorary university degrees during his lifetime.

Things I Liked About This Novel:
1) The escapism of science fiction. I must say, this book came along at a prime moment when I was looking for something totally removed from the intense realism of my research on at-risk youth in Russia and Ukraine.

2) I enjoyed exploring a new genre and suspending my disbelief.

3) The change of characters and setting with each new section. It kept me hopping trying figuring out new scenes and characters.

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