Many months ago I read this, and it still has stuck in my head so it must be great, right? I started a classic series in the genre: Foundation by Isaac Asimov. Having read The Caves of Steel the month before I knew that I enjoyed Asimov’s writing style, so it was time to start his opus.
This is the first in the Foundation series. It is loosely modeled after the rise and fall of the Roman Empire, of which I’ll be honest I don’t know much about (I was always much more of a 16th century on history nerd). It starts with the current empire collapsing and a team of psychohistorians fighting to protect their knowledge. The leader of their group, Hari Seldon, convinces the empire to give them a useless planet on the edge of the galaxy as a refuge to work and preserve their knowledge, while at the same time fighting ignorance and therefore shortening the coming Dark Ages. What evolves out of this set up is a series of short stories in the years following the establishment of the Foundation, often centered upon a crisis moment within their history, and how they keep knowledge from being consumed by barbarism.
And it’s awesome! This is the first in my science fiction education this year that I loved. It took a little while for me to get going and figure out how the story telling model was coming about, but once you get rolling it’s a fascinating start to one group of peoples fight against the dark ages, which some charming anti-war propaganda thrown in. I really enjoyed that the Foundation always tried to solve their problems not through violence, but by thinking through their problems. With one crisis of war they use religion as a way out, and simple economics for another time. There’s a couple more in the series which I hope will take me through this 1,000 dark years and into the new, even greater empire.