Prelude to Foundation

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Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 257

This novel falls into the ninth place in the collection of Isaac Asimov’s fourteen-book (so far) history of the future--it bridges the gap between the “Empire” and “Foundation” series. It can be read without reference to any of the other books, and in fact it is a logical and extremely satisfying starting point.

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The book relates the origins of Hari Seldon’s discovery of “psychohistory,” the predictability of human events, and presents the reader with a riveting story of political intrigue and the quest for power. Central to the theme of the book is the idea that any technique or ability that might give a leader more power over the beliefs of men will be relentlessly pursued--even if it has only a possibility of being real.

Hari Seldon and his guardian, the enigmatic woman Dr. Dors Venabili, must avoid the competing political forces that wish to use them, while, at the same time, they determine if psychohistory is of any practical value. In the imperial world of Trantor--actually a complex association of city-states of enormous cultural variety and social prejudice--the characters must run the gamut of physical and emotional dangers and challenges.

Not all is as it seems on Trantor, and the efforts of Seldon and Venabili to unravel the mysterious history of mankind ultimately reveal as much about themselves and their friends in the present as they do mankind’s past and future. This is a book about the future of power and the power of the future, a combination impressive in scope and concept.

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