Prelude to Foundation – The first Foundation novel

Title: Prelude To Foundation

Author: Isaac Asimov

Publish Date: 1989

Publisher: Bantam Books

Type: Novel

Genre: Sci-Fi

Sub-Genre: Future, Galactic Empire

Plot Summary:

In 12,020, the Galactic Empire is crumbling and losing control. With the decay comes that ‘what does it matter’ attitude of the society as a whole.

History is only preserved by those interested in what they decide is important, what they do not think is important or relevant, is forgotten or lost.

Historical records are also lost by lack of use, which causes data fragments and deterioration.

One man, Hari Seldon, devised a way to potentially predict the future and worked his way through learning how to make it practical.

Through several encounters with diverse population segments on the Imperial homeworld, Hari realizes that an individual world, with all of its varied demographic groups, can be useful for his new science called “Psychohistory”.


In Prelude to Foundation, Isaac Asimov fills in the background building up to the first book he wrote in the series called Foundation back in 1951.

The storyline draws on a Galactic Space Empire that had lost effective control of its outer worlds, about 25 million of them, and has its forces spread too thin to rule by force.

An unknown but likeable mathematician named Hari Seldon, comes up with a hypothesis that you could use mathematical equations to predict the general course that the future would take.

Of course, if you can predict the future, there will be those that want to be able to use that knowledge to change it for their own purposes. This theme was presented very early in the story and it was maintained successfully throughout the book.

One of them was the Emperor’s Advisor who kept on Hari so he could snatch him once he got Psychohistory to be practical. Hari was saved early in the beginning from an attack by muggers and then given a protector, a woman. She was a historian, and an excellent fighter, able to handle herself and any trouble Hari managed to stir up as he wore out his welcome in one hiding place after another.

During the course of a year, you feel the passage of time as well placed references to how long has elapsed since he arrived on the homeworld, named Trantor. The pace was very smooth and didn’t feel rushed at any point allowing the transitions between ideas and locations to be smooth and believable.

The central theme, and the romantic sub-theme blended well together allowing you to follow them with very little distractions, and almost no effort.