Monday, January 9, 2012

Foundation Group Read Discussion Part 1

Here we go! The first group read discussion of Foundation by Isaac Asimov and the first post for the Science Fiction Experience. These are questions for the first half of the book, Part 1 through Part 3, Chapter 4. Remember there will be spoilers! Though at this point in the book they are minor. Below are the group read discussion questions in bold and my answers. Let's get started!

For the purpose of satisfying curiosity, is this your first time reading Foundation or have you read it before?

First time!

For those reading Foundation for the first time, what expectations did you have going in and has it met them or surprised you in any way?

I had no expectations. I hadn’t even done any research online about the story. I went in completely ignorant and willing to let it surprise or disappoint me.

I will say Asimov has always intimidated me. Most Sci-Fi books in general have always intimidated me. I usually stuck with the Star Wars EU since I was already familiar with the story of the Republic and the Empire. I had branched out slightly with The Forever War, Battlefield Earth and The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy (a book I forgot to mention I had read) and enjoyed them but hadn’t moved beyond them. I always felt the technical side would go over my head or it would just be so technical I would not be able to connect with the characters.

What are your thoughts about the structure of the novel thus far? (I am referring to the brief glimpses of different parts of the history of the Foundation with big time gaps between events in the novel)

I like it. I find it interesting to see how the results of the events have shaped the future from one generation to the next and how much has changed.

What are your initial thoughts on the field of psychohistory?

Predicting the future through psychology is interesting but scary. I can see guessing future events based on the past may be possible and helpful to learn from our ancestors mistakes. But it could lead to someone actually manipulating things so it does happen, instead of letting history happen naturally. So you have to wonder, if Hari Seldon did not predict the fall of the Galactic Empire in the first place in order to establish the Foundation, would the Empire even fall? Did it let things deteriorate knowing it would reestablish itself in the future because Seldon predicted it?

What, if anything, is holding your interest thus far, what are you enjoying about Foundation?

Salvor Hardin I found fascinating; seeing him as a young man then thirty years later to see how he has changed. Also learning the true purpose of the Foundation and that there’s still more to be revealed. I also enjoy the political maneuvering and manipulation of the kingdoms that have broken away from the Galactic Empire.

What, if anything, are you not enjoying about Foundation?

So far I’m really enjoying it so I don’t have anything negative to say.

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?

Ha, I keep thinking of Star Wars and how it never seemed to work, whether it was the Old and New Republic or the Empire. Even in our own history when you look at the British Empire and the U.S.S.R. I think it’s been proven that such a thing won’t work.

What are your thoughts on Hardin's creation of a religious system in which to house scientific ideas and technology while keeping the users of that science and technology in the dark?

This troubled me. It made me think of the Dark Ages, after the fall of the Roman Empire. To go from such enlightenment then to fall back onto superstitions beliefs ruled by religion is just unfortunate. But there must be a reason for it and for the Foundation, it was for their survival. I wonder how much longer it can go on for though, especially when space travel is still possible and was possible even before the Galactic Empire began to fall.

I am really enjoying Foundation so far. I find myself engaged with the characters even though they do not stick around for long as we jump thirty to fifty years after the Foundation has been established. Now I'm off to read what others thought of the first part. If you've read Foundation and would like to join in the discussion, share your thoughts here in the comments or see what others have are talking about here.


  1. Thanks for participating with us. I'm glad you decided to go on ahead even though you had some ideas that it would be intimidating. I certainly felt that way before I read Asimov and by that time I had read a lot of other sf. Interesting how that seems to be a pretty common theme with Asimov/Foundation. I'm glad it is so accessible.

    Interesting thoughts about empire and how in SW, for example, it wasn't a case of it working for the 'goodies' or the 'badies', it just didn't work long term period to try to govern that much territory.

    I think the religious/superstition angle is interesting because of the idea that you know it cannot last forever, that level of control will eventually start to crumble.

    So happy that you are enjoying the story, hope you'll continue on with us through the next two books so that you get the whole story arc.

  2. I was surprised at first how easy a read this has turned out to be and I think I will continue reading the next two books as well. I'm fascinated by this world building, or rather deconstructed in order to re-build, that Asimov has created.

  3. I like that this isn't too intimidating, at least so far. I'm reading I, Robot by him right now, which is a little more difficult, not because it's technical or anything, but it makes you have to think in terms of logic and reason. So far in Foundation that idea is there, but I seem to be able to just let the characters do all the work, like Hardin.

  4. There are some fantastic stories in I, Robot. Hope you enjoy it. Asimov manages to explore some very interesting universal concepts with his robot stories.

  5. I'm so happy you joined in the read along, especially for a book that's in a genre you don't usually read. Foundation is a great starting point for SciFi, because it's just so easy to get into. Asimov certainly knew how to write an engaging story.