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Asimov, Isaac
book-date: 1951
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Steve Youll

Isaac Asimov's Foundation - a "fix-up" novel (or collection of related stories) - built from 4 novelets originally published in Astounding in 1942 or 1944. This is my favorite of the "Foundation" series, and I recommend it as a good job of world-building, and being re-readable. (I have trouble re-reading the rest of the series, since major plot points like "who is the Mule?" or "where is the Second Foundation?" proved to be so memorable - that I am not fooled by false trails or uncertainty by the searchers.)

The Psychohistorians
The Encyclopedists - (original title= "Foundation")
The Mayors - (original title= "Bridle and Saddle")
The Traders - (original title= "The Big and the Little")
The Merchant Princes - (original title= "The Wedge")

The first piece is original to the 1951 Gnome hardcover, the second has minor changes compared to the magazine source, and I didn't notice any changes from the magazine versions in the last 3 pieces. The first American paperback edition was abridged and retitled as The 1000 Year Plan in 1955. All other editions return to the original title. All 3 books of the original "Foundation" trilogy are fix-ups of pieces from Astounding.

For some sort of set-up or plot summary, I quote part of a review in Astounding (February 1952):
"Foundation takes us through the first four stages in the dissolution of the Galactic Empire and the unconscious efforts of the First Foundation, on Terminus, to shorten an interegnum of thirty thousand years to a mere thousand. We meet Hari Seldon and watch him out-maneuver the politicians of the Empire and secure a haven for his Encyclopedists in the galactic Periphery. Fifty years later, with Salvor Hardin, we face the first predicted crisis of invasion by the fragmented kingdoms which have developed out of the ruins of the old Empire. In another thiry years comes the second crisis, and a new balance though the use of a new type of power. Finally comes the era of the Traders and Merchant Princes, and a third crisis in the resurgence of a degenerate Empire, again met by another of the social forces which Hari Seldon's science of psychohistory permitted him to forsee." [-P. Schuyler Miller.]