In 1941, Isaac Asimov, a young scientist and writer, was inspired by Edward Gibbon’s History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire – and by contemporary global politics – to write an epic for his own age. He set out to tell of ‘the fall of the Galactic Empire and the return of feudalism, written from the viewpoint of someone in the secure days of the Second Galactic Empire’. The result was The Foundation Trilogy, an extraordinary science fiction epic that raises profound questions. Why do empires rise and fall? How is society best run? Can history be predicted? Asimov explores these ideas in a multi-layered, ingenious story that is as gripping today as when it was first published.
It is the heyday of the Galactic Empire. Nearly 25 million inhabited planets are ruled by this civilisation, which has existed since time immemorial. But one man has dared to predict the Empire's fall. Hari Seldon is a pioneer of the science of psychohistory, which predicts the patterns of mass behaviour, and he has foreseen galactic war. He establishes two Foundations; one to preserve Imperial knowledge, the other whose purpose and location are unknown. As the Empire collapses, the First Foundation’s inhabitants labour on their Encyclopedia Galactica – unaware that an even more important role has been predicted for them by Seldon.
In the second book, the Foundation has grown in power to rival the dying Empire. With superior technology, and access to energy that other planets lack, it receives tributes from the rest of the Galaxy, all in accordance with the Seldon Plan. But this plan does not take into account the rise of a rogue individual: the Mule, a warlord with the power to manipulate thoughts and emotion. All that stands between the Mule and total conquest of the Galaxy is the mysterious Second Foundation; but its location is a secret that others will die to protect.
The mule has conquered the Galaxy – or most of it. The First Foundation’s leaders have been either killed, or ‘Converted’. Yet the Mule is still haunted by the existence of the Second Foundation. It is located at ‘Star’s End’ of the Galaxy; but what does that mean? And does this other Foundation even exist? The Mule sends his most loyal general, a former resistance leader who is now brainwashed, and Bail Channis, an ambitious young man whose mind is still free, to investigate. But others are searching for it too, including the 14-year-old Arcadia Darell, who understands Seldon’s plan better than many of her elders …
Paul Krugman is one of the world’s leading economists, a professor of Economics and International Affairs at Princeton University and a recipient of the Nobel Prize in Economic Science. In a fascinating introduction, written exclusively for this Folio Society edition, he describes how The Foundation Trilogy inspired him to study economics, since it was the closest thing to the ‘psychohistory’ of the novel. ‘I grew up wanting to be Hari Seldon, using my understanding of the mathematics of human behavior to save civilization.’ He observes that the ‘Foundation’ novels are ‘about society, not gadgets’, and that despite the concept of a rigorous social science that underpins them, they are also ‘suspenseful, engrossing, and if I may say, bracingly cynical’.
Alex Wells is a young British illustrator. In this, his first commission for The Folio Society, he has skilfully evoked both the futuristic feel of the series as well as the period in which it was written. He says, ‘I’ve always been an avid reader of science fiction and Asimov's Foundation Trilogy is among the best the genre has to offer. The biggest challenge was trying to convey an exciting science-fiction feel and look while staying true to the sophisticated universe Asimov created.’
Review by David William Rees on 8th Aug 2013
"I first discovered Isaac's Asimov's Foundation Trilogy when I was about eight years old. They were possibly the first serious science fiction novels which I read. I fell in love with the trilogy and..." [read more]
Review by jakobi.gerth on 20th Feb 2013
"Illustrations are perfect, binding is wonderful."
Review by RikZak on 26th Jan 2013
"I read this books decades ago, maybe centuries ago:-) regardless am looking forward to a re-read. The illustrations alone are worth the price. Thank you Folio."