Welcome to Part I of the Foundation Groupread, hosted by Carl from Stainless Steel Droppings.
Asimov’s “Foundation” is divided into five parts. This week’s discussion covers up until midway through Part 3. Of course, I’m a wee bit behind and as I’m writing this have only read up to the end of Part 2, but I’ll get caught up by the end of the day.
For anyone who is interested, Carl is also hosting groupreads of the next two books in the Foundation Trilogy after we finish this one.
As a disclaimer, the following discussion might include spoilers from the first half of the book. You are warned!
For the purpose of satisfying curiosity, is this your first time reading Foundation or have you read it before?
Asimov virgin here–not only have I not read “Foundation,” I haven’t read anything at all that Asimov has written.
What are your thoughts about the structure of the novel thus far?
Normally I tend to enjoy books that toy with structure, but in this case I’m not sure. I definitely like the segments from Encyclopedia Galactica. At the same time, I’d like to see more character development, and thus far we haven’t focused on the same characters for long enough to learn that much about any of them.
Speaking of characters, my favorite thus far is Lord Dorwin. He reminds me of my high school trigonometry teacher, who had a speech impediment. In a moment of glory, she once announced to the class “Pawabowa Cadabowa!” I continuously admire the patience of high school teachers in dealing with teenagers on a daily basis… now back to Foundation!
What are your initial thoughts on the field of psychohistory?
I like it. Is it realistic? No. Is it brilliant? Yes.
What, if anything, is holding your interest thus far, what are you enjoying about Foundation?
I liked the way that Seldon popped up again in the second book to explain what was going on. I liked it for the same reasons that I always enjoy the “Dumbledore shows up and explains everything” segments in each of the Harry Potter novels. Even while dead, Seldon manages to have the last word.
What, if anything, are you not enjoying about Foundation?
I wish there was more character development. I’m having a hard time getting attached to the major players in Terminus’ affairs at the moment. In this book, Asimov takes the concept of The Foundation and frames it in much the same way that one would frame a protagonist. While it’s structurally interesting, I’m not sure yet if I like it or not.
You may have covered this in answering the other questions, but if not, what are your thoughts/feelings about the Galactic Empire. Is it a practical thing to have a galaxy spanning government? Can you imagine such a thing and do you think it would work?
Can I imagine it? Yes. Do I think it would work? Doubtful, unless it had no real power and individual worlds still maintained their own affairs, as in the example of Ursula K. LeGuin’s Ekumen.
One of the things that was very interesting to me while reading was noting the ways in which Asimov’s influence permeates other works of science fiction. The idea of a Galactic Empire spreads, of course, to the Star Wars universe. When we were first introduced to the planet Trantor, my first thought was that it reminded me of Coruscant. Oh, and Encyclopedia Galactica is totally referenced all the time in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
What are your thoughts on the book thus far?