Behind those glorious chops sat the mind of a science fiction genius. I was worried his sideburns would overshadow his writing but thankfully I was wrong.
Isaac Asimov is considered by many to be the father of the modern science fiction novel. The Russian born author did what many did when he got started. He wrote for pulp magazines and read everything he could get his Commie hands on (Austin we won). In 1951, he began the Foundation series and began his delve into a series whose scope and imagination is remarkable.
Foundation is based on the fall of the Roman Empire in a general sense. A large bureaucratic entity known to the reader as the Empire is in the death throes of history without even realizing it. Mind you it wouldn't be for a few centuries, but Hari Seldon, a "psychohistorian", comes to the forefront with a series of scientific advances designed to show the Empire that it is indeed crumbling. The use of academia to identify areas of change in the future that can be manipulated is a creative approach by Asimov that would come to define Foundation.
When Seldon is approached by the Emperor and his ilk, he convinces them that the Empire will collapse in a mere 300 years and that he and his chosen should be sent to a different world to begin
work on cataloging the history of mankind in an effort to change the events that would bring down the
empire. Anyone who can appreciate history for anything beyond dates and names understands the basic intrinsic value behind basic historiography and it's impacts. Asimov does a great job here bringing the learn from the past trope into the mix.
The novel is broken up into five parts all of which tied to the first part, but the characters and plots change yet stay true to Seldon's original prognostications. Eventually, this evolves into an almost deity like role for Seldon as his word is gospel. Of course, there might be some ulterior motive here (wink wink), but I won't play spoiler.
One of the major peculiarities of Foundation is Asimov doesn't let the characters ever really develop into anything more than a a plot advancement tool. Even Seldon, the man who starts it all, is only a shadow as the novel progresses. By doing so Asimov removes the human element from the story and therefore, the commitment to any of the characters, but if it's any consolidation to the reader, that's the point of the work.
If you must have a character then in an esoteric sort of way, is the Empire. The Empire is developed across the novel, is influenced by external pressures then succumbs to those pressures. Not every character in a literary sense follows that formula but plenty do. If your unable to read a novel and not latch yourself to anything other than a person well then maybe this isn't a good choice for you, but if you want to take a look at world building across the centuries through the eyes of many characters under many different impressions well than this is for you.
Foundation is a series of several books and while I've yet to delve into the others, Foundation has laid......the foundation (see what I did there?) for the others.
You can pick up Foundation HERE.
Copyright: A "Foundation" of modern science fiction. (AP/Mario Suriani)