The only Isaac Asimov I had read prior to this was his non-fiction essay Not as We Know It: The Chemistry of Life (which I still like to link to) and a critical review of Orwell’s 1984 noting how it should be too dysfunctional to be an effective surveillance state. My plan had been to start with the original Foundation novel, but that was checked out at the libary while this was available and since Asimov himself seemed to endorse a chronological reading order (although I had only heard that this was significantly worse than the original series) I figured it was ok for me to do so as well. I had fretted earlier that I was behind in my classic scifi, and perhaps that is true insofar as I read Dune long before I read Foundation when Herbert was responding to Asimov (and may well have copied the technique of epigraphs from an in-universe text preceding chapters, as the Encyclopedia Galactica gets used here). But it’s fortuitous that this was the next work of fiction I read after The Dispossessed due to the striking similarity between the premises of the two novels, and that surprises which didn’t work on people who’d read the preceding Foundation stories could still work on me.

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