On Foundation

Was Issac Asimov Hari Seldon?

I finished Isaac Asimov's seminal work, the first book of the Foundation trilogy, yesterday. This is my short review that I added on Goodreads:

I think it's a bit harsh to rate this book using modern standards when it was written in the 1940s. Yes, it's not as fast paced or as expansive as modern SciFi, and there is a woeful lack of female characters (only one gets a speaking part). But modern SciFi didn't exist when Asimov wrote this, and so much of it even to this day draws from the vein Asimov struck (the parallels with the Star Wars universe a few decades later is notable, for example).

Instead, it might be a good idea to look at where Asimov himself drew inspiration from: Edward Gibbon's The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Basically, we can class the work as a space history, concerning how vast empires decay, how the people living in the midst of such empires experience this fall much more differently than the people living in the peripheries, and how opportunists come for the scraps. One wonders how Asimov predicted so well the work of the oligarchs and pocket dictators after the fall of his native Soviet Union, and fifty years before the fact.

What I found strikingly modern though are its takes on religion as a means of social control, ivory tower academics who were unconcerned with all but dogma while the Rome that sustained their work burned around them, and how societies tend to reject science and technology it doesn't understand-a theme that reverberates well in today's post-Covid world.

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