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Foundation

Narrated by: William Hope
Series: Foundation, Book 1
Length: 8 hrs and 56 mins
4.4 out of 5 stars (699 ratings)

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Summary

Winner of the Hugo Award for Best All-Time Series

The Foundation series is Isaac Asimov’s iconic masterpiece. Unfolding against the backdrop of a crumbling Galactic Empire, the story of Hari Seldon’s two Foundations is a lasting testament to an extraordinary imagination, one whose unprecedented scale shaped science fiction as we know it today.

The Galactic Empire has prospered for 12,000 years. Nobody suspects that the heart of the thriving Empire is rotten, until psychohistorian Hari Seldon uses his new science to foresee its terrible fate.

Exiled to the desolate planet Terminus, Seldon establishes a colony of the greatest minds in the Empire, a Foundation which holds the key to changing the fate of the galaxy.

However, the death throes of the Empire breed hostile new enemies, and the young Foundation’s fate will be threatened first.

©2019 Isaac Asimov (P)2019 HarperCollins Publishers Limited

Critic reviews

"Isaac Asimov was one of the great explainers of the age...It will never be known how many practising scientists today, in how many countries, owe their initial inspiration to a book, article, or short story by Isaac Asimov." (Carl Sagan)

"One of the most staggering achievements in modern SF." (The Times)

"Asimov displayed one of the most dynamic imaginations in science fiction." (Daily Telegraph)

What listeners say about Foundation

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foundation. classic golden age sci fi

a great timeless read by one of the greatest sci fi writers.I read the whole trilogy when I was 15 years old and I am now 75 years old and it still has the magic it had then.

29 people found this helpful

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Asimov’s Masterpiece

Foundation by Issac Asimov (1951) Hello to my readers! Once again everyone I will be discussing science fiction but this time of a different ilk. Instead of discussing Doctor Who, Firefly or some other televised science fiction on audio it is the turn of a famous literary classic. Issac Asimov’s Foundation series. Foundation as a series has quite the reputation – having earned at one point the Hugo Award for Best All Time Series. An award the series beat Lord Of The Rings to get! The Hugo Awards stand alongside the Nebula Awards as the two most respected and desirable literary awards in the entire science fiction genre. My readers will no doubt be aware of Asimov’s reputation as an author. When you successfully manage to have your ideas of robotics affect not just the general public and mass blockbusters but actual scientific papers and academic works you will develop a reputation! But what about Foundation itself? The first Foundation novel was originally published in 1951 and contains five connected sections from different points on the overall timeline. Four of these five sections were first published in the 1940s under different titles in the seminal science fiction magazine Astounding Science Fiction. The plot is as follows: On the planet Trantor at the centre of a 12,000 year old Galactic Empire there lives a famous mathematician named Hari Seldon. Seldon has created a new form of scientific study known as psycho-history. Using various mathematical calculations combined with some form of psychology, it is scientifically possible to calculate the most likely and most beneficial actions by individuals in large group societies. In other words to work out the most likely action by any given group and to counteract by forcing those individuals into doing what you want. Think of it as a excessively complex form of mathematical chess! Seldon has predicted that the fall of the Galactic Empire is now inevitable and there will be a period of 30,000 years of anarchy before the birth of a second empire. As such he creates the Foundation a group of scientific minds dedicated to preserving the spirit of science and civilisation therefore ensuring that the period of anarchy will be a mere 1,000 years and that the Foundation will become the cornerstone of that new empire. However…the young Foundation will have to cope with many enemies and will have to survive the death throes of the Empire. Foundation is a wonderful piece of the Golden Age of Science Fiction. The writing is magical in its own way. Asimov definitively tries - as was the style of the more ‘hard sci-fi’ end of that era to have his science make sense in universe. He may invent some bizarre science or technology or a more advanced form of an existing technology but he always tries to explain and justify it and the principals behind it. Case in point see his use of atomic energy. It may seem very dated or childish to us as modern listeners but he comes up with these uses for atomic energy that feel perfect in the setting. On top of this the people who live on the Foundation world of Terminus and those others we encounter on other worlds all seem to have language changes or unusual terminology that is explained well in universe so the reader and listener can understand it. The characters come across with a mix of interesting personalities..and I love the internal politics that comes up later! To be completely honest with my readers I bought this specific audio edition on an impulse during an Audible sale and I have fallen in love with Foundation all over again! A series that started off inspired by The Decline And Fall of The Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon ended up being the inspiration for a practically endless list of science fiction book series over the decades. The original trilogy of Foundation, Foundation And Empire and Second Foundation is still a masterwork. The later sequels attempt to add connections to Asimov’s Robot series of books and it is…debatable what the consensus is on the continuations. The narration for this audio edition comes from a William Hope who is a prolific narrator. Aside from doing some other works by Asimov, he has also done narration duties on several books by Linwood Barclay as well as numerous other authors including other classic literary works. Hope’s audio definitely fits the Golden Age with a very interesting mix of accents for several characters – his accents for Seldon, Salvor Hardin and various religious figures being among my favourites – and it is relatively easy to tell who is the current speaker as his voices for the characters are mostly distinct. There are a few examples where his chosen voice doesn’t feel like it fits but the vast majority of characters are masterfully performed. In conclusion I highly recommend the original Foundation trilogy. It is a true magnum opus of the Golden Age and one more people should definitely read or listen to. The Golden Age may not be your favourite era of sci-fi but Foundation is one of those examples where the reputation is deserved and I hope I can persuade some of my readers to join me in studying psycho-history. To quote Salvor Hardin “Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent.” And I will see you all soon…with one of my rarer articles. Sayonara! Nephrite

21 people found this helpful

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It's a classic

First read this when I was a child and still love it some decades later. Some of the character voices didn't feel quite right but nothing major. Well worth a listen.

5 people found this helpful

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engaging and gripping

mystery with an objective, very satisfying and a tremendous performance from the narrator. will be reading more

5 people found this helpful

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Classic and brilliantly narration

Read these books years ago but this was better than I remembered. Very well narrated too. These stories have stood the test of time well.

4 people found this helpful

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An absolute classic, beautifully read.

Probably not enough "action" for the modern market, but a beautifully read rendition of a favourite classic.

4 people found this helpful

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Still fantastic.

Read the whole series 20 years ago, loses nothing of the original. Brings the Asimov reply to life

4 people found this helpful

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Good book

Good food for thought. It addresses power struggles in a way that isn't dependant on real world examples. It's refreshing

3 people found this helpful

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Dated but makes up for it with good story telling

The technology behind it is way off course, but the book is still really well written

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Good but I expected more

This book is a collection of stories, all tracing the foundation. Don't get attached to any character.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Alain Craven
  • 13-10-19

Good Story - Terrible Production

The story is good - I read this almost 40 years ago, and now listening to it again. However, the production is very low quality - the narration cuts out weirdly and some parts are not there (so a sentence will end midway etc). That makes it hard to tell if the narrator just stops randomly, or if the narration is missing a sentence or even an entire chapter. Very disappointing production of a seminal work of Science Fiction by a master of the genre.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 06-06-20

Well read classic science fiction

Someone complained about partial loss of sentences, but citations from the "Galactic Encyclopedia" are actually truncated in the original text also and ends abruptly in the middle of sentences with a series of dots.... These quotations are meant only as glimpses, but when read aloud they certainly give the impression of having been cut by accident. Perhaps the reader should have said "end of quotation" or something like that. I too became annoyed and had to look it up in the first edition! As for lack of "character development", that complaint is true enough, but in my opinion it is rather an asset, not a drawback in stories of this kind. Asimov is certainly a somewhat overrated writer, but he is much more readable than some highly praised but dry and academic writers like Ursula le Guin. Carefully planned and thought out "caracter development" can sometimes be a drag. In short, I like the Foundation trilogy very much but it should perhaps be read as a delicious "period piece".

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  • Andrew
  • 14-02-20

Unfathomable nonsense...

I've listened to half of this and given up. There's no character development because, essentially, there are no real 'characters', this is just pseudo-political mumbo jumbo. I have absolutely no interest whatsoever in what happens as there is nothing to draw me in and make me interested. I came to this with high hopes having heard and read such good things about it, but quite frankly, this is awful. I have no idea why this gets such rave reviews...