Every once in a while, when my reading falls off and my writing falls off, I need a way of re-energizing, and I always use the same method for recharging my batteries: I re-read Isaac Asimov’s FOUNDATION books, the original trilogy as well as the four books written in the 80s and early 90s. Somehow, each time, I come away from those books feeling energized, revitalized, hopeful and optimistic. Tonight, I’ll get started once again on the FOUNDATION series. I always read them in the order they were written (rather than the order in which the events take place). Over the years I have done both and reading them in the order they were written is a much more powerful experience.
I always look forward to the very first words of the series, words that begin innocently enough:
His name was Gaal Dornick and he was just a country boy who had never seen Trantor before.
These words lead, in my opinion, to the greatest story in the history of science fiction bar none. I know that people disagree with this, but it is my opinion.
I have read the complete FOUNDATION series five times since 1995, when I read it for the first time. The last time I read the complete saga was nearly two years ago, in December 2005. Tonight will be the 6th time I read the series (and the 8th time I’ve read Foundation, the first book).
I always finish the last words of Forward the Foundation with tears in my eyes. Isaac Asimov was often criticized for being an unemotional writer, but over the course of the 7 books, you grow to love the characters so much, particularly Daneel and Hari Seldon, that I can’t avoid the tears and sadness at the end. But I am also always filled with a kind of hope and awe. If mankind survives 50,000 years into the future and colonizes the galaxy, I hope with all my heart, that it is a galaxy like Isaac Asimov describes in these books.
If you’ve never read the FOUNDATION books, I highly recommend them, naturally. The first three books were written more or less during the war years of 1942-1945. They are incredible. The last four books were written more than 30 years later, between 1982 and 1991. They too, are incredible. The sense of wonder is not diminished. These books are the epitome of science fiction. They are why I write science fiction. If you’ve never read any science fiction before, if you’ve been skeptical of it, if you’ve been turned off by what you see on movies and TV, then pick up the first three books from the library and read them. They were written long before every house had a TV. You won’t be disappointed.
I can’t wait to get started tonight.