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Foundation, Foundation and Empire, Second Foundation (Everyman's Library Classics & Contemporary Classics)

Foundation, Foundation and Empire, Second Foundation - Isaac Asimov, Michael Dirda going in I wanted to like this more.

An all-time SF Classic, I'd last tried to read it all the way back in the early 80's in the Brooklyn Tech Library and then its being a collection ( a "fix-up") of short stories and not true novels kept me from getting very far.

The short story aspect stills drags it down a bit. The lack of continuing characters along a more protracted story arc makes it more difficult to take in the entirety of the Foundation and some of the breath and depth of the series is not actually laid out but assumed as a given.

Even going in with preconceived notions of preparedness for anachronistic language and blatant sexism of the time,I still had difficulty getting past some of it. the worst offender was the prevalent "tell don't show" style. of all the conflict contained in the 602 pages only one battle is actually recounted between two ships and it lasts barely one paragraph. Most of the book is about conversations between the characters and is dialogue (in the philosophical sense) heavy.

A great plus is the usage (some of which appear for the first time) of what became the baseline tropes of speculative fiction- Mutants, spacecraft,vast empires,commerce etc.
I still think Asimov's idea of a space station in which each craft maintains its own sovereign nation status while docked is better than most space station ideas created decades later.

A Classic series which laid the foundation (pun intended) for nearly everything that came after. Well worth reading, just try not to be distracted by how the old thing creaks.

AND by the way Hari Seldon is the most annoying self-important know-it-all asshole in the universe!
How he was able to create the greatest shaggy dog story of the future and get the next 3 centuries of the future human race to go about fulfilling his self-fulfilling prophecy is the best con since P.T. Barnum or L.Ron Hubbard!