Foundation does everything right from the very beginning. The setting is in the far future, and mankind has populated the Milky Way Galaxy. Humans number over a quintillion in population, and collapse is on the horizon. The scope of the book is enormous, as are the cities that encompass entire planet surfaces. Yet, the focus of the book is on individuals calling the shots and influencing the fate of humanity. During these small political squabbles for power you don’t forget that just outside the lense of the character you’re focused on, multiple worlds and millions of people are subject to the outcome of these character’s actions.

The book begins with Hari Seldon, who has created a new mathematic principal called psychohistory, which allows him to predict with 100% certainty that The Empire will fall in 300 years. The Empire allows him to keep his life for making blasphemous statements, but forces him into exile. Seldon foresees the impending exile and has already set his plan into action.

Seldon and the scholars studying under him willingly go into exile. An institute named “The Foundation” is created on planet Terminus on the edge of the galaxy. His followers and their ancestors will maintain the technology, knowledge, and population required to rebuild The Empire after it inevitably falls. The book continues to describe the inhabitants of Terminus and The Foundation, and their interactions with neighboring civilizations.

In Foundation, religion, politics, and technology all become one, and those in power use religion and technology to become political leaders. The novel focuses heavily on how religion is used to influence people and take power in the galaxy.

Over a century passes in time as The Foundation evolves naturally from mathematicians, to historians, to politicians, to merchants. The Foundation becomes a dramatically different entity than what it was during it’s infancy, but that doesn’t mean that Seldon’s plan is off track, nor that his predictions have been wrong. After Seldon’s death. members of The Foundation continues to recieve additional instruction via pre recorded hologram messages.

Neither the characters in the book, nor the reader, can know if the character’s actions are hindering or progressing Seldon’s plans. Are the choices being made a result of the predictions, or are they required for the prediction to become true?

After having the pleasure of reading Foundation, there is no question in my mind as to why this story has become what many consider to be a cornerstone of science fiction. It is the best book by Asimov I’ve personally read yet, and I feel extremely fortunate to be living in a time where I don’t need to wait for the sequel to be published.