Thursday, January 21, 2010

Book Report: Foundation

Selected quotes:

"Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent."

"The Foundation's [country's] greatest asset throughout the Periphery [world] is its reputation of power."

"The other half goes to the government at the end of the year when all good citizens pay their income tax."

"You're a Smyrnian after all. It seems naturalization and education can't wipe out the taint in the blood. Listen, and try to understand, just the same."

"There will be other crises in the time to come when money power has become as dead a force as religion is now. Let my successors solve those new problems, as I have solved the one of today."

War, a country concerned about its image throughout the rest of the world, high taxes, illegal immigration, financial meltdown...sounds familiar, huh? Well, all that and more is central to the plot of Isaac Asimov's science fiction novel Foundation.

Asimov had a theory that all civilizations follow certain trends or progression arcs, and societies evolve along predictable paths.

A little unnerving isn't it? Especially considering the book was first published as a series of short stories starting way back in 1942.

There's even a theory that Osama Bin Laden was influenced by Foundation and used its espoused society-building principles to expand Islamic fundamentalism. The name 'Al Qaeda' actually means 'foundation' in Arabic.

Interestingly, even though it's set 50,000 years in the future, Asimov's society was run by men bossing other men. The only woman in the whole book was some powerful dudes' trophy wife. Kind of like Mad Men of the future.

Not my favorite science fiction book, but worth reading.


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