Isaac Asimov’s Foundation: Essential reading that set the stage for modern science fiction. 

What it is: The first of Asimov’s famous Foundation series, originally published as a collection of short stories between 1942 and 1950. Those stories eventually became the first full book in the Foundation trilogy. Later in Asimov’s life, he expanded on the trilogy with several additional sequels.

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What I’ve read: I finished the first book over the weekend. I’m already neck deep in its follow-up, Foundation and Empire, with Second Foundation on deck after that.

Is it good? Yes, it’s good.

Quick thoughts: It was impossible for me to read Foundation with a true appreciation for how groundbreaking it must have been when it was published. It’s remarkable even now, as much a philosophical reflection on the power of knowledge and technology as it is a tale of political intrigue. I was often struck by the protagonists’ cynical and practical view of religion, which they manufacture in order to manipulate and pacify the less advanced kingdoms surrounding them. It’s striking given how, shortly after Foundation’s publication, Asimov’s contemporary L. Ron Hubbard successfully invented a real-world religion that persists to this day. Foundation is light on action and heavy on conversation—it amounts to a collection of dialogues between various pairings of men, almost like a series of stage plays. It’s no less engrossing for that. Definitely one to read if you haven’t.

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