Welcome! This post is part of my Most Interesting Questions series, which means I’ll be answering the most interesting questions I can find or think of on Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series. Pictured below are the first three books in the series, but there are many more books. Foundation spans many generations, covering a history of somewhere around 1000 years. The second book is called Second Foundation and the third is called Foundation and Empire. There isn’t a movie as far as I’m aware, but Apple TV is working on a Foundation TV series. I can’t wait! Foundation is one of the best gems that Asimov has given the world, in my opinion.
By the way, if you’re wondering about who I am, I’m an author from Portland, OR. I write epic fantasy and children’s science fiction.
Q #1: What do people think of the Foundation series by Isaac Asimov?
A: I can’t speak for other people, but I think it’s great. It’s a sci-fi series, probably primarily meant for adults, but can be read by advanced readers in high school also imho. One of the things Asimov does really well is to create a compelling story on an epic timescale. The first book alone spans multiple generations.
Q #2: Are there overlaps between the western roman empire’s decline and Isaac Asimov’s Foundation?
A: YES. And it’s in all-caps because I think that is the parallel for this whole thing. The roman empire, like the empire in Foundation, is far-reaching, encompassing almost all of Europe. It breaks up in pieces, similar to how the empire breaks up in Foundation. And after the break-up, there comes a dark ages, similar to the medieval times in Europe. The main difference is that the empire in Foundation is the roman empire on a massive scale. This is highlighted by the fact that The Foundation will enable the empire to recover in a thousand years, but without it the empire could take 30,000 years to recover.
Q #3: Is the story of Interstellar similar to the story of the Foundation by Isaac Asimov?
A: No. I think they are completely different. Interstellar is a story about space, and about family. Foundation is a story about the entire human race, and a crumbling space empire. The only real similarity is that they can both be classified as science fiction, but there the similarities end.
Q #4: How realistic is a predictive science of psychohistory, a la Hari Seldon in Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series?
A: Just fyi, I have little to no real life experience that would inform an answer to this. However, after reading the book, and based on what I know, I would say that it’s fairly unrealistic. Hari Seldon is able to predict events with eerie accuracy, and I don’t think this would be possible. In particular, I don’t think it would be possible to pinpoint the exact years that things would happen. Obviously, it is inevitable that a grand empire will fall. Everything comes to an end eventually. So it is believable that Hari Seldon would predict that. But how could he know it will happen so soon? I think psychohistory could definitely exist right now, and in the future, to predict future events, but I don’t think it could predict nearly as much or nearly as accurately as it does in Foundation.
Q #5: What similarities and differences does Donald Trump have with Isaac Asimov’s character The Mule from the book Foundation and Empire?
A: I would say they actually have surprising amount in common. Donald Trump’s presidency was unexpected. And he’s done a lot to alter the direction of our country. The Mule is similarly an unexpected force thrown into the mix, and he also alters the direction that the Foundation is so carefully attempting to guide humanity in. The difference between them is that the whole reason The Mule is able to do what he can do is because he has a superhuman ability to manipulate people. Donald Trump doesn’t have that ability, though it might seem like it at times with how readily people dismiss what he’s doing and support him. Donald Trump also comes from wealth, and was already a public figure before his presidency. The Mule was just an ordinary person who used his mutant abilities to rise through the ranks.
Q #6: Without spoiling the book, what is Isaac Asimov’s Foundation about?
A: Isaac Asimov’s Foundation is about the fall of a galactic empire. It’s about the people from a single planet called The Foundation. Before the collapse of the empire, a man who predicts its fall establishes The Foundation with the goal of guiding humanity through the dark ages after the fall of the galactic empire, and to the bright new days of a second galactic empire. It spans many generations, as the whole process will take a thousand years.
Thanks for reading! Now I invite you to check out more MIQ posts below, or my books. I write mostly in epic fantasy and children’s science fiction, so it may be more juvenile than Foundation, but it could still be a great read for you if you like stuff with lighter tones.