Foundation is hard science fiction at its least aesthetic and humanistic

Friday, September 24th, 2021

Isaac Asimov began writing his Foundation when he was in his early 20s, after reading Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire and Toynbee’s Study of History and coming up with the idea of a Science of History that predicts the future:

This is an idea that only a very young man who hasn’t much experience with how inevitably wrong his predictions will turn out to be could dream up.

On the other hand, it’s also a really interesting idea. Foundation is hard science fiction at its least aesthetic and humanistic. Asimov wasn’t all that good at writing characters, but his mathematical psychohistorian Hari Seldon and The Mule who upsets Hari’s careful plans are useful shorthand references when talking about forecasting.


  1. Charles W. Abbott says:

    Thank G*d you’re back. You post so reliably that you missed a week and I feared for your health.

    I glance at every post.

    Also, your indexing and archives are a great public service!

  2. Harry Jones says:

    Bah to aesthetics and humanism. It’s a breezy read and it makes you think. I’ll take it over Kant any day.

    Asimov used to be ridiculously over-hyped, but at his best he was pretty good. Not everything that’s over-hyped sucks.

  3. Isegoria says:

    Thanks, Charles. Real life definitely got in the way recently. I’m happy to see the archives appreciated!

  4. Sam J. says:

    I really liked the book on the “The Mule”. I don’t remember which one it was; I read it a really long time ago.

    Asimov was okay, but for world building I liked Herbert, Niven, and Pournelle better — especially Niven and Pournelle. There’s lots of others: Card, Varley, Pohl, etc.

  5. Sam J. says:

    Isegoria, thanks for all your hard work.

  6. Isegoria says:

    Thanks, Sam, for appreciating it!

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