I really enjoyed Foundation and Foundation and Empire, books one and two in Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series. I found Asimov’s strategy for dealing with a story line which spans across nearly a hundred years to be enjoyable, and the transition characters do a good job of bridging generations. This approach was undoubtedly out of necessity, as the books were originally published as separate short stories.
The series opens with the foretelling of the collapse of the Galactic Empire, which is exactly what it sounds like. Hari Seldon, a psychohistorian genius (psychohistory = using math to predict the future…a.k.a. the future application of actuarial science), predicts that the Empire is about to implode and he puts together a plan to drastically expedite the process of re-establishment. This process will take a thousand years, though, and although humanity has figured out how to predict the future, it has not had the same success with time travel or immortality. As a result, old Hari will be long dead by the time the galaxy settles itself out. That, however, is not a concern for Hari, because his plan is just that good.
Essentially we are presented with an entire galaxy which is reset to zero in evolutionary terms; although they have space ships they’re still barbarians without nuclear power (animals, right?!). Hari’s plan will take them through every step of evolution, culminating in the establishment of a brand spankin’ new and shiny Empire 2.0.
What is really interesting is that, in this plan, rule by trade (i.e. economy/capitalism) is an evolutionary step-up from religious rule. Chalk one up for the separation of church and state!
I’m now kind of stuck on Second Foundation. I don’t know if that’s because I’m reaching Foundation-overload, and I need to take a break from the series and come back to it, or if it’s because I haven’t invested myself in the fate of the Second Foundation at all, so I’m really not caring very much whether the Mule takes it over or not…
My husband is bugging me to eat the dinner he made me and play video games with him, so I’m going to go do that now.