Foundation and Empire

Foundation and Empire

Downloadable Audiobook - 2002
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2nd in Asimov's Foundation series. In this narrative, the Galactic empire established in the previous episode is decaying, consumed by its own immorality and scientific mismanagement. The Foundation is formed to fill the void but soon gains equal, if not superior, power to the disintegrating Empire.
Publisher: Santa Ana, CA : Books on Tape, p2002
ISBN: 9780307749727
Branch Call Number: Overdrive eAudiobook
Characteristics: 1 sound file (9 hr., 35 min., 23 sec.) : digital
Additional Contributors: Brick, Scott


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Aug 08, 2016

Isaac Asimov's "Foundation" series is to science fiction what Tolkein's "The Lord of the Rings" is to fantasy. It is such a monumental body of work that it cannot be overlooked in any consideration of this literary genre.

Despite its anachronisms, "Foundation" will probably be read for centuries to come. It is as timeless as its source material. This was nothing less than Gibbon's vast history "The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire". Asimov was inspired by the rise and collapse of an ancient civilization to write a future history of a galactic empire that would span tens of thousands of years and millions of worlds. It was a project that was so ambitious that few SF writers before or since have attempted such a tome. Robert A. Heinlein created his own future history, but the books in this universe are not a coherent whole.

It is amusing to think that some of the amazing innovations that Asimov envisioned in the millennia to come became a reality in his own lifetime. When Harry Seldon whips out a pocket calculator in the opening chapters, we are supposed to be awed. The notion that historians will still be pushing around tons of paper records and buying things with metal coins kiloyears in the future comes off as quaint.

Some of the tropes and plot devices that fill out the Foundation books may seem familiar to those who have never read them. The reason for this is the fact that "Foundation" is literally the basal pillar upon which generations of subsequent writers and film makers have patterned later works on.

When we see the planet-sized city that is the capitol of a "galaxy far, far away" in the "Star Wars" movies, we are seeing a copy of Asimov's galactic seat of power called Trantor in the Foundation books. George Lucas' rip off of Asimov was that blatant.

One must experience the Foundation books in the correct sequence in order for it to make sense and not to spoil all the twist endings.

For the record the order of the original books is:

"Foundation and Empire"
"Second Foundation"

Remember that "Second Foundation is the THIRD book in the series, not the second.

Each book is a multi-generational set of tales that spans centuries. Keeping all the events of the books in one's mind is as challenging as remembering all the dynasties of the Old, Middle and New Kingdoms of Egypt.
Asimov borrowed heavily from Western history, so it is helpful to have a prior familiarity with these historical themes prior to reading this trilogy. To know Asimov, it helps to know Tacitus, Suetonius and Herodotus.

Each book and story arc within them has an underlying mystery. I must admit that I figured these out before coming to each end. Some of the themes and twists that Asimov used have been copied in subsequent detective stories so often that they have become cliché. Readers less jaded by the genre will find them fresh.
This audio production is of high quality with excellent dramatic narration.


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