It’s an accomplishment all the more remarkable given that the story driving the Foundation Trilogy — an epic tale of the fall and rise of future galactic empires —contains virtually none of the usual tropes that are associated with science fiction. The novels span the entire galaxy, but no extraterrestrials make an appearance. It depicts the future history of human society, but it’s neither explicitly a utopian nor dystopian parable. There’s plenty of futuristic technology—from faster-than-light spacecraft to personal force fields—but all of this serves as the background, not the driver, of the plot. In fact, Foundation appears to contradict Asimov’s own definition of science fiction, as a ”branch of literature which deals with the reaction of human beings to changes in science and technology.” In this case, though, Asimov would later explain that he set out to create a genre he called ”social science fiction.” He used the future as a template to explore a pivotal idea that we’ve been asking for centuries: Are there laws of human history as immutable as the laws of physics?

» Mark Strauss |