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Forward the Foundation Mass Market Paperback – February 1, 1994
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"Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress"
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The Foundation Trilogy is a wonderful piece of work, but the Kindle edition butchers it! Someone has decided to water down Asimov's prose, eliminating some of the more enjoyable passages of the book. Here are some examples, found by comparison with an old Bantam Doubleday hardcover edition.
Several pages into chapter 3, Salvor Hardin is arguing with the Encyclopedists about the decline of the Empire.
Original: "If you ask me,", he cried, "THE GALAXY IS GOING TO POT!"
Kindle: "If you ask me,", he cried, "THE GALACTIC EMPIRE IS DYING!"
In chapter 5, Hardin is again meeting with the Encyclopedists and discussing the threat received from Anacreon.
Original: The message from Anacreon ... boils down easily and straightforwardly to the unqualified statement ... "You give us what we want in a week, or we beat the hell out of you and take it anyway."
Kindle: The message from Anacreon ... boils down easily and straightforwardly to the unqualified statement ... "You give us what we want in a week, or we take it by force."
I'm going to be asking for a refund.
As to the content, Asimov, a polymath, was a Biblical scholar as well as a popularizer of science and writes here as clearly and understandably as ever! He shows how Genesis embodies the then-current understanding of the universe and shows where that agrees with and differs from our now-current (that is, 1981) understanding. I found the comparisons to be quite interesting. His explanations of confusing passages give plausible reasons for how they came to be the way they are. He also explains the significance of the lengthy genealogy that I found boring when I first read it.
His major between-the-lines point, I believe, is that the Bible was compiled from earlier sources by intelligent, educated men of their times - but was not inspired by God.
The book jacket summarizes this 66-year-old book well. It stands up well to the passage of time. The twists and surprises take the story in unexpected and interesting directions. Asimov does not waste much space developing characters. In fact, it seems to me the characters in 'Foundation' take a distinct back seat to the story direction and underlying themes. If you like action-packed Sci-Fi, this book may not be your cup of tea. But if you like big human ideas,themes, or morals; you might want to read this one.
Foundation and Earth offers a nice closure tying events well with the Robot series however, he only goes 500 years into the Sheldon Plan leaving the reader to wonder how the Plan worked in the end.
Although Asimov left an opening for the next book which never happened, I was not so much bothered by the cliffhanger as much by the 500 remaining years of the Sheldon Plan. One can argue those are one and the same but I did not experience it that way.
Overall Foundation and Earth was a crescendo after the other five foundation books and the one I liked the most.
The whole series: I thoroughly enjoyed the Robot series, but I had to push through some of the Empire books (Pebble in the Sky). Most Foundation books were entertaining and I wanted to go back to reading any chance i got.
I am being careful not to give anything away, or at least nothing that you could not find in common places.
I gave it fours stars instead of five because on at least one occasion I predicted what will happen. I don't always appreciate such predictability and Asimov had such an amazing imagination that he could have avoid it.
This is the recommended reading order:
1. I Robot (or The Complete Robot) [ROBOTS]
2. The Caves of Steel [ROBOTS]
3. The Naked Sun [ROBOTS]
4. Mirror Image (short story) [ROBOTS]
5. The Robots of Dawn [ROBOTS]
6. Robots and Empire [ROBOTS]
7. The Stars, Like Dust [EMPIRE]
8. The Currents of Space [EMPIRE]
9. Pebble in the Sky [EMPIRE]
10. Prelude to Foundation [FOUNDATION]
11. Forward the Foundation [FOUNDATION]
12. Foundation [FOUNDATION]
13. Foundation and Empire [FOUNDATION]
14. Second Foundation [FOUNDATION]
15. Foundation's Edge [FOUNDATION]
16. Foundation and Earth [FOUNDATION]