Posted by: Andy | March 13, 2008

Book Review: Prelude to Foundation

By: Isaac Asimov (of course)

It’s been so long since I originally read this I forgot it entirely. Not that I was missing much.

The plot is really formulaic in the sense that Hari Seldon (the founder of psychohistory) just moves from location to location, learning a small lesson in each place. None of which actually seems to help him “discover” psychohistory, which is what this book should be about. At least that’s what I would expect from something laying the foundation for the Foundation, as it were. Instead it’s about Hari Seldon’s life, right as he’s about to start seriously working on psychohistory. And the clues that he discovers at each location, instead of leading him closer to psychohistory, leading him closer to discovering the last remaining robot, sort of. So I suppose the follow-up book, if there had been one, would have been called Robots & Foundation?

It’s hard to like Hari. At least for me. I get that he’s overly curious and pushy. Ok fine, but somehow it just comes off annoying.

He does eventually have a semi-epiphany about how to work on psychohistory but, honestly, it’s kind of stupid. I guess in the sense that people in his society are completely unfamiliar with locales outside of one or two…or at least he is, then maybe it makes sense why it took him so long to come to the realization (which is just about where to base his model for human interaction really) but still, the whole thing comes off silly.

The true finale of the series comes when a robot wants a kiss. But since we didn’t know that was something to be desired, or that was something we were even working on, that also rang kind of false.

So yeah, I’m thinking late Asimov mostly just reads like inserted junk. It seems to provide one or two essential facts about his universe, wrapped in 420 pages of padding. However, it’s much better than that tripe that Frank Herbert’s son is peddling as Dune prequels. *vomits in mouth*




  1. Oh, Andy. You’re not…overly curious.


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