A reading club with a view to the future

574 Isaac Asimov: Foundation

“Foundation” is a science fiction classic exploring the concept of predicting the future and shaping the destiny of humanity.



"Foundation" is the first novel in Isaac Asimov's iconic science fiction series. Set in a distant future, it follows mathematician Hari Seldon's development of "psychohistory," a scientific discipline that can predict the future of large populations. Fearing the inevitable decline of the Galactic Empire, Seldon establishes the Foundation on the remote planet of Terminus, aiming to minimize the dark ages that would follow. The story unfolds across generations, exploring the Foundation's struggles to navigate political intrigue, external threats, and the challenge of fulfilling Seldon's vision of preserving civilization in the face of an uncertain future.


  1. Title: Foundation 
  2. Author: Isaac Asimov 
  3. Publishing Year: 1951
  4. Publisher: Gnome Press 
  5. Length in Hours: 8 hours and 37 minutes 

5 main ideas

  1. Psychohistory: The novel introduces the concept of psychohistory, a branch of mathematics that predicts the future of large populations, providing the foundation for the story's overarching plot.
  2. The Decline and Fall of Empires: Asimov explores the rise and fall of the Galactic Empire and the efforts to minimize the ensuing dark age through the establishment of the Foundation.
  3. Political Intrigue: The narrative delves into political machinations as the Foundation faces challenges from external forces and internal struggles for power and control.
  4. Preservation of Knowledge: The Foundation seeks to preserve knowledge and culture to safeguard humanity's future during times of upheaval and uncertainty.
  5. Evolution of Civilization: "Foundation" spans centuries, depicting the evolution of civilization and the impact of individuals and events on the grand scale of history.

5 funny quotes

  1. "Why, I believe you've been trying to kill me off!"
  2. "I can't possibly learn to control it in three months!"
  3. "By Seldon's spheroids, I wish I could make head or tail of this!"
  4. "Can't you stop talking in riddles?"
  5. "This is a time of crisis and you want to discuss literature?"

5 thought-provoking quotes​

  1. "Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent."
  2. "The fall of Empire, gentlemen, is a massive thing, however, and not easily fought. It is dictated by a rising bureaucracy, a receding initiative, a freezing of caste, a damming of curiosity—a hundred other factors. It has been going on, as I have said, for centuries, and it is too majestic and massive a movement to stop."
  3. "Hardin, you are an amusing gadfly but a useless one. Before I'm through with you, I'll have you bowing and scraping to me and praising my wisdom and all that sort of thing. It is an inevitable end, believe me, for I am a most practical man, and I know that to get things done, a man must love the little grub, and scowl at the little philosopher."
  4. "Never let your sense of morals get in the way of doing what's right."
  5. "Scientific truth is beyond loyalty and disloyalty.

5 dilemmas

  1. The ethical dilemma of using psychohistory to shape the destiny of civilizations, balancing free will and determinism.
  2. The challenge of maintaining the Foundation's autonomy and preserving its mission amidst external political pressures.
  3. The dilemma of relying on scientific predictions to guide decisions while recognizing the limitations and uncertainties of such forecasts.
  4. The conflict between advancing knowledge and safeguarding it, especially during times of crisis and cultural regression.
  5. The moral dilemma of choosing between short-term survival strategies and long-term preservation of knowledge and civilization.

5 examples

  1. Hari Seldon, the brilliant mathematician who develops the concept of psychohistory and establishes the Foundation.
  2. Salvor Hardin, the mayor of Terminus and a key figure in navigating the Foundation through political challenges.
  3. Anacreon, a neighboring kingdom that poses a threat to the Foundation's existence.
  4. Terminus, the remote planet where the Foundation is established, becoming the focus of Seldon's plan.
  5. Gaal Dornick, a young mathematician who plays a significant role in the early days of the Foundation.

Referenced books

  1. "Encyclopedia Galactica" - A fictional comprehensive compendium that becomes an essential tool for preserving knowledge and civilization in the story.
  2. "The Decline and Fall of the Galactic Empire" - A reference to Edward Gibbon's historical work, reflecting the parallels with the rise and fall of empires in "Foundation."
  3. "The Ultimate Encyclopedia" - A fictional work mentioned in the story, representing another source of knowledge and information.
  4. "The Origin Question" - A hypothetical book that highlights the quest to understand the beginnings of humanity and the universe.
  5. "The Pscychohistoric Equations" - The central scientific concepts that form the foundation of Hari Seldon's predictions and the crux of the novel's narrative.

Share a quote

"This is a time of crisis and you want to discuss literature?"

Become a NextBook Insider

Join our community to access exclusive content, comment on stories, participate in giveaways, and more.