Isaac Asimov Asimov, Isaac (Vol. 1) - Essay

Asimov, Isaac (Vol. 1)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Asimov, Isaac 1920–

A Russian-born American, Asimov is best known as an interpreter of science for the layman and a writer of science fiction. (See also Contemporary Authors, Vols. 1-4, rev. ed.)

I am inclined to think … that [the Foundation novels of Isaac Asimov] are the pivot of modern science fiction…. Asimov applied to future history the lessons of past history. He brought to the attention of the science-fiction cosmos the fact that humanity follows patterns and that those patterns, though similar, differ in scope, differ in intensity and internal nature, that the rise of civilization follows a spiral that makes certain events seem to recur predictably but always on a new and vaster level…. In Asimov's novels it is assumed that during the course of the tens of thousands of years of the rise of the Galactic Empire enough data were compiled, enough information was tested, enough science was advanced to make possible a true science of social prediction. This is psychohistory…. What the Foundation series did was to create the point of departure for the full cosmogony of science-fiction future history. It is possible to analyze present-day stories and place them into that framework of millions of years to come.

Donald A. Wolheim, in his The Universe Makers, Harper & Row, 1971, pp. 36-42.