Forward the Foundation

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Hari Seldon’s first public appearance on the imperial planet of Trantor almost cost him his life. Still, he survived the experience, and, as PRELUDE TO FOUNDATION related, he was able to secure the protection of the Emperor’s First Minister. Thus, Seldon was free to develop the necessary theorems in association with psychohistory—that discipline which allows the course of human events to be altered so as to produce predictable, beneficial consequences in the future.

Unfortunately, the development of psychohistory was difficult, and there were those who sought to destroy Seldon or pervert his creation to promote their own selfish ends. Still, Seldon was an exceptionally talented and lucky individual who could call upon the assistance of friends in the great task to which he dedicated his life.

The publication of the Foundation Trilogy between 1951 and 1953 brought about a revolution in the science fiction genre. In FOUNDATION, FOUNDATION AND EMPIRE and SECOND FOUNDATION, Asimov unified scientific speculation and human historical development so as to create literary opportunities previously unsuspected by traditional practitioners of science fiction. With the publication of SECOND FOUNDATION, however, Asimov abandoned the Foundation tale for some three decades until the publication of the concluding volume in the series, FOUNDATION AND EARTH. While providing the chronological end of the series, however, FOUNDATION AND EARTH left far too many questions unanswered in the minds of Foundation fans. In consequence, Asimov returned to the beginning of the beginning, thereby devoted himself to life and times of the man who started it all. PRELUDE TO FOUNDATION and FORWARD THE FOUNDATION represent what might be called “Foundation: the Hari Seldon Years.” The posthumously published FORWARD THE FOUNDATION is a worthy end to a lifetime of achievement.