Forward to Foundation & robots: chronologically
I love science fiction. Especially the works of Frank Herbert (the Dune universe) and Isaac Asimov. I’ve read he felt he was writing mainly for boys.. but this girl loves them too.
Especially the robots & foundation series. On this page I list the whole foundation series – with short plot descriptions – in chronological order (within the series, not as he wrote them). But since the robot series take place earlier on, I’ll start with those.
Short stories by Isaac Asimov about the theme of robotics. Most of these stories take place before the other books on this page. It’s a perfect introduction to the theme of robots and Asimov’s universe in general. The main stories in this novel have also been turned into movies – usually quite fun to watch.
Caves of Steel (Robot City)
New York City police detective Elijah Baley has to find a murderer – but he has to face the open skies to do it. Since Elijah has grown up in the ‘caves of steel’: the domes in which all earths population live, he is afraid of open spaces. But he is partnered with the robot R. Daneel Olivaw who is a great help (which Elijah only slowly recognizes: his pride of being human is strong).
The Naked Sun
A man has been murdered on the isolationist planet of Solaria. Because the population is so well protected from harm by their robots (hundreds per person) the government has no idea how to deal with murder. So the genius detective Elijah Baley is brought in from earth.
He has to face many challenges to solve the murder – not least of which is the social restrictions placed on him on a planet where people rarely meet face to face. There’s a sort of romance involved in this story – and I’ll leave it up to the reader to decide whether that has effected the outcome…
The Robots of Dawn
Again the two characters meet: Elijah Baley the genius detective and R. Daneel Olivaw the robot. There’s another robot that plays a part in this story, the robot R. Giskard – who, unlike Daneel actually looks like a robot.
To solve the murder / destruction of a humanoid robot, Baley has to travel to a planet where he will be faced with people who despise him and the outside world. Since he’s used to living under domes, he is constantly challenged. But of course, the mystery is solved, political disaster avoided and the population of earth can go on reasonably safe as before.
Robots and Empire
Elijah Baley is dead – but he leaves behind him a movement of settlers (emigrants from earth) who are settling the universe. The point has come where settlers and spacers are about equally strong.
This romantic (yes – Asimov gets slightly romantic here) novel portrays the spacer woman (long lived and sad to have see Baley grow old) Gladia taking up the cause of the settlers and the two robots Giskard and Daneel saving humanity (or do they?)…
Gripping and with an unusual plotline.
Available on Kindle
Not one of Asimov’s best. This novel has no robots in it, because that time is now gone. We’re at the height of the Trantorian empire and a planet is facing extinction that’s essential to the economics of the empire.
About the struggle for survival when politicians have other interests.
Available on Kindle
Another one that doesn’t make it for the non-Asimov fan.
Biron Farrell was young and naive, but he was growing up fast. A radiation bomb planted in his dorm room changed him from an innocent student at the University of Earth to a marked man, fleeing desperately from an unknown assassin.
Available on Kindle
This novel is Asimov’s first and definitely not his best either – yet it is central to the whole series. It describes earth’s last days as a radioactive planet. It has time travel, unlike any of his later novels or stories.
A reader says:
Just finished Pebble in the sky today. It’s probably the tenth Asimov book I’ve finished. I can never get enough of them.
Prelude to Foundation
The first of the foundation novels – though not the first to be written. It describes a mathematician, Hari Seldon, who has discovered mathematical principles that may make it possible to predict the future of humanity. But there is a big difference between discovering abstract principles and actual prediction. Yet – in the course of the novel Seldon gets to know the empire better than he ever had, and develops his science – facing numerous obstacles in the meantime.
Each Asimov novel stands on its own. It’s quite possible to read the foundation novels without this first one. But for those who love the series, this one is definitely part of the pack.
Many fans think the foundation series themselves are better, but this is one of my favorites.
You can also get all the Foundation novels in one big Kindle ebook (if you live in the right part of the world).
Forward the Foundation
The second part of Hari Seldon’s life – based on the new science of psychohistory he deflects a popular uprising and ends up prime minister.
More suspense. More drama. More twists and turns. The second prequel to the Foundation Novels proper.
Another one of my favorites, perhaps because there is a female heroine…
This book has more than 300 reviews in Amazon. Need I say more?
The first of the Foundation novels (proper) this is one of the classics in science fiction. We get to the end of Seldon’s life. As a former prime minister he is famous. He is notorious for having predicted the downfall of the empire. And he has a plan to save humanity – but how will he go about doing so?
Foundation and Empire
Hari Seldon has helped set up the Foundation at the end of the universe. This community of scientists has knowledge that the empire has already forgotten. Things are going just as Seldon predicted – until a mutant with superior psychic abilities interferes. This disaster threatens the development of humanity along it’s safe path. How can the Seldon Plan be saved?
The Mule is not yet conquered. But there is a Second Foundation that is rumored to exist. It might be able to conquer the Mule – but does the First Foundation want that to happen? Perhaps they’d rather be free of all influence, whether by mule OR second foundation…
The teenage Arcadia Darell travels all the way to Trantor to save humanity… but will she – and if she does, did it happen the way she thinks it did? After all, both the mule and the Second Foundation have mental powers.
The First Foundation seems to have conquered the Second Foundation. But one man doesn’t think so – and gets exiled for speaking his opinion. Councilman Golan Trevize ends up having to decide – for all of humanity – what the right course for humanity is. Should the first foundation be given the right to rule? Or the second? Or is there a third party involved?
Foundation and Earth
Councilman Golan Trevize has decided the fate of humanity. But he keeps doubting. He wants to know WHY he decided what he did. He doesn’t like his decision. Somehow the fate of the original planet of origin – earth – seems related to his quest. So he goes out and tries to find it, though all references to the planet have been deleted from the libraries and nobody has been able to find it for ages.
Why is it hidden? And by whom? How?
This novel is interesting in how it investigates alternative states of consciousness.
For years I had in my possession the Foundation Trilogy, and when I finally sat down and read it I was delighted. The concept of The Mule always intrigued me. I love Asimov’s work, but I enjoy reading his essays the most, and somewhere around here I have a wonderful collection of those essays.
I think Nightfall (the short story, not the novel) is one of the best I’ve ever read. Asimov was remarkable both for the sheer quality and quantity of the books he wrote, the huge number of subjects he wrote about – everything from robots to Shakespeare to the Bible. He was very humble and accessible too; his number was listed in the phone book – not that I would have had the nerve to call him (I did meet him once though).
Wouldn’t it be nice if we all were programmed with the Robotic Laws?