Prelude to Foundation, Paperback Book

Prelude to Foundation Paperback

3 out of 5 (3 ratings)


In PRELUDE TO FOUNDATION, what happed in the many centuries before the events made famous in Asimov's other Foundation novels - hitherto only hinted at - is now revealed. The Key to the Future It is the year 12,020 G.E. and the last Galactic Emperor of the Autun dynasty, Cleon I, sits uneasily on the throne.

These are troubled times and Cleon is desperate to find a way to calm them.

When young Outworld mathematician Hari Seldon arrives on Trantor to present a paper on psychohistory, his astounding theory of prediction, the emperor believes that his future security may rest on Seldon's prophetic powers. But Hari Seldon becomes the most wanted man in the Empire as he struggles desperately to keep his remarkable theory from falling into the wrong hands.

At the same time he must he must forge the key to the future - a power to be known as the Foundation.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 464 pages, illustrations
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Science fiction
  • ISBN: 9780586071113

Other Formats



Item not Available
Free Home Delivery

on all orders

Pick up orders

from local bookshops


Showing 1 - 3 of 3 reviews.

Review by

The official start of the now six books that comprise the foundation series - it is also 8th in the 14 connected books that start with "The Complete Robot" and span through the Empire building, dissolution and final its re-establishment. A future history of the development of mankind over 100000s of years. As a prelude written sometime after the initial works, this book very much relies uponthe reader having some idea of both the preceeding steps and the end of the series. The Foundation trilogy is perhaps one of Isaac Asimov's most famous stories. The basis is that a Galaxy wide empire has crumbled but before it completely dissolved into anarchy and chaos a mathmatician named Hari Seldon developed psycohistory - a means of predicting the agregate behavior of people. He foresaw the anarchy and laid plans to minimise the distruption and bring back the glory days as soon as possible. Of course in the time of the Foundation doing so, his actual life was far in the past and subject to myth. Prelude to Foundation are excerts from his life, as he began the process of developing pyscohistory. Each chapter is preceded by a short exert of "Encylopedia Galactica" noting what details survived. Hari presents his inability to make pyscohistory work to the emporer and his refusal to fudge the results to make Cleon look good. A chance encounter then sends Hari exploring the rest of the sectors in Trantor the imperial capitol. Each is beset with its own problems and its own characteristic defects. Hari runs into trouble each time and is moved on to another sector until the unsurprising conclusion is reached. Asimov is an ideas science fiction writer. His characters are thin, his world building skills almost more so. The people in each sector are extreme contrasting stereotypes, with no redeeming features. there is no angst no confusion no dubious moarl quandries that make the real world exist. However the ideas are very good, and the conclusions based from them can't be faulted. A light and entertaining edition to the series, worth reading as a fan, but not the ideal entry point - start with Foundation and come back to this later. An obvious note to the differences in writiing ages, the original books are about 1/3 the size of this. I'm note sure the extra words make it better.

Review by

This is the first, in order of reading, of Dr Asimov's books to be titled as a Foundation novel and it deals with the early life of Hari Seldon when he first arrives on Trantor and begins wondering about the possibilities of a science that could predict the direction of Human history. Seldon and Dors Venebilis go on the run from the Emperor's attempts to control Seldon and through him his new science. Some of the 'action' scenes may seem a little laughable, but these have never been one of Asimov's strong points but this story does depend on the interactions between Seldon, Dor and those who help and hinder them and this is another area whre Asimove doesn't really shine over this length of story telling.

Review by
Cleon looked frustrated. His lips tightened. 'And your paper, then? Is that what you call it, a paper? - Of what use is it?''It was merely a mathematical demonstration. It made a point of interest to mathematicians, but there was no thought in my mind of its being useful in any way.''I find that disgusting,' said Cleon, angrily.Seldon shrugged slightly. More than ever, he knew that he should never have given the paper. What would become of him, if the Emperor took it into his head that he had been made to look a fool?After five books telling the history of the Foundation, Asimov returns to the beginning, as Hari Seldon comes to Trantor to present a paper on psychohistory at a mathematical convention. He soon finds himself in trouble, as the emperor and others are concerned about the possibility that psychohistory could have practical applications.Actually, I'm surprised that Hari Seldon survived long enough to develop a practical application of his idea. Although he is supposed to be keeping a low profile, he has the usual bull-headed approach of science fiction heroes (as in the some of the other Foundation books and "Shockwave Rider"). His lack of emotional intelligence means that he continually upsets his hosts and rubs them up the wrong way, and he keeps doing stupid things that get him noticed and into enough trouble that he has to be moved to another hiding place.Although Hari Seldon irritated me a lot, the good thing about Asimov writing a prequel after the rest of the series, is that he could put in all sorts of subtle hints about the things that happen in the other books. And even though I guessed the twist, the ending still came as a surprise, as there was a second part to the twist that hadn't occurred to me at all.

Also by Isaac Asimov   |  View all