April 3, 2014

This book is my first love to science fiction world (well, it has to compete head-to-head with Ender’s Game.

It begins with Hari Seldon, a great psychohistory, or sociologist cum mathematician in nowadays term. By using psychohistory, he predicts that the Empire is actually on decline. Nobody believes him because the Empire is as strong as ever. But Hari Seldon is true, because the law cannot be bent; it is as certain as the law of gravity. Therefore, he is going to tinker with the law by creating a seed of civilization during this dark time, to fasten the dark age, from thirty thousand years to a mere one thousand years. The seed is known as the Foundation.

It has many things that I loved from a science fiction novel. The first one is the idea. Imagine that you CAN PREDICT THE FUTURE (!) given you have enough data, which is ±75 billions of population, and you know the law governing the relation between human being. That is the wet dream (and holy grail) of any social scientist! It is far fetch from the truth of course, because one thing that made us human so unpredictable is the feedback loop. A stone is not being aware that it is being studied, so it will stay the same. But a human being KNOW that s/he is being studied, so s/he can give a different feedback, which mess all the result of the probing. Asimov beautifully overcame this complexity by removing the obstacle. To make the science of psychohistory reliable, he only need to remove all the “psychologist” so that the entire population of the Foundation is not being aware of the study.

The second is the progress of history itself. Asimov admitted openly that he was inspired by the book The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. But still, he is quite genuine in plotting the future history of the Foundation. I am dying to find out about the next Seldon crisis. It shocking and unpredictable. That is what this novel so interesting, even though the writing is quite dry, and there are almost no character development. That is perfectly OK, because the plot is not about the character! Caring about the character development is like caring about the fate of one drop of water while forgetting about the ocean!

Enough said, 5 stars.

five star


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