Isaac Asimov, ‘Foundation’
My first Asimov, and a very interesting experience. His humour was a surprise, so was the twist laden plot. The premise of this book is fantastic, a foundation set-up to write an Encyclopeadia Galactica (H2G2 reference point ) to save the knowledge of the galactic empire through it’s fall and to help re-establish it. Asimov seems to enjoy taking his foundation down blind alleys and popping surprises on them. The time-scale is huge, which means the cast of characters changes frequently in what is a rather slim volume, but as long as you keep up, the book is very rewarding. The plot touches on religion and trade (Stross’ ‘Merchant Princes’ reference point?) as means of control. I was left wondering at the end what the next control mechanism would be as current society is still in the trade phase, but from the blurb of the next book, it looks rather like Asimov has sidestepped this question.
An excellent introduction to Asimov who appears to be a far better writer than I had been led to expect through his reputation for scientific prediction to be rather dry. You would be hard pressed to find a book written in the fifties with as a rich a palette as this.