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Old January 12 2009, 07:23 AM   #1
Sgt. Sacrament
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Reading order of Asimov's Foundation books?

Years ago, having finished the classic Foundation novels of Isaac Asimov, I asked here which of Asimov's works I should read next. Someone here made the excellent suggestion that I could start from the beginning and read the Robot - Empire - Foundation cycle in order. (Thanks, whoever it was!)

I've finished all of the the Robot stories/books (ending with Robots & Empire) and just finished the three Empire books (I just finished Pebble in the Sky). The question is, now what do I read? I've guessed from the last two robot books that Asimov went back and retconned his earlier stories into one continuity, and that R. Daneel is then working behind the scenes in his earlier works, and this will be the Big Revelation in a later-written work (probably in the last sentence or paragraph of the book, per Asimov's style ). But still, please don't spoil me.

I know that he wrote later Foundation books that chronologically precede the earlier written ones. Here's his chronological listing (from http://www.asimovonline.com/asimov_FAQ.html#series5) of the Foundation books:
"9. Prelude to Foundation (1988). This is the first Foundation novel (although it is the latest written, so far).
[9a. Forward the Foundation (1993).]
[9b. Foundation's Fear (1997).] The first novel in the Second Foundation Trilogy, it was written by Gregory Benford. Takes place after the first chapter of Forward the Foundation.
[9c. Foundation and Chaos (1998).] The second novel in the Second Foundation Trilogy, written by Greg Bear. Takes place at the approximate time of Hari Seldon's trial.
[9d. Foundation's Triumph (previously titled Third Foundation and Secret Foundation) (1999).] The third novel in the Second Foundation Trilogy, written by David Brin.
"10. Foundation (1951). The second Foundation novel. Actually, it is a collection of four stories, originally published between 1942 and 1944, plus an introductory section written for the book in 1949.
"11. Foundation and Empire (1952). The third Foundation novel, made up of two stories, originally published in 1945.
"12. Second Foundation (1953). The fourth Foundation novel, made up of two stories, originally published in 1948 and 1949.
"13. Foundation's Edge (1982). The fifth Foundation novel.
"14. Foundation and Earth (1983). The sixth Foundation novel."

Since I've read the Robot & Empire books in Asimov's chronological order, I'd like to read the original Foundation works again. Should I read them in the order above? Are there one or two that I should wait to read? FYI, I'm not planning to read the non-Asimov Foundation books, at least not yet. (That will probably be a future post ).

So, if I haven't hopelessly confused you, can anyone offer any suggestions? Thanks in advance!!
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Old January 12 2009, 08:50 AM   #2
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Re: Reading order of Asimov's Foundation books?

Well, it's been some time since I've read the books, so there might be something I'm overlooking, but here's my advice:
The published order of Asimov's later robot/foundation novels was
Foundation's Edge, The Robots of Dawn, Robots and Empire, Foundation and Earth, Prelude to Foundation, and Forward the Foundation.
As such, while Prelude to Foundation should be read before Forward the Foundation, and Foundation's Edge should be read before Foundation and Earth, it is not essential to read the prequel books before the sequel books. There are little hints in each book as to the larger picture going on that would be appreciated by reading the others, but Asimov doesn't really spoil much as far as I remember.

As for the Second Foundation Trilogy, you should definitely read Prelude and Forward first. I think it's generally assumed that the reader also has knowledge of Edge and Earth, but I don't remember as much about that.

Hope this helps.
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Old January 12 2009, 09:04 AM   #3
ATimson
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Re: Reading order of Asimov's Foundation books?

Spocktapus wrote: View Post
As for the Second Foundation Trilogy, you should definitely read Prelude and Forward first. I think it's generally assumed that the reader also has knowledge of Edge and Earth, but I don't remember as much about that.
Triumph definitely assumes that you've read Earth.
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Old January 12 2009, 01:32 PM   #4
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Re: Reading order of Asimov's Foundation books?

Spocktapus wrote: View Post
As such, while Prelude to Foundation should be read before Forward the Foundation, and Foundation's Edge should be read before Foundation and Earth, it is not essential to read the prequel books before the sequel books.
Indeed, I would strenuously suggest reading the sequel books prior to the prequel books. The big reveal in Earth would be spoiled if Prelude or Forward are read before it.

As for the Second Foundation Trilogy, you should definitely read Prelude and Forward first. I think it's generally assumed that the reader also has knowledge of Edge and Earth, but I don't remember as much about that.
[/QUOTE]
Foundation's Fear could be read after Prelude to Foundation, as it goes in between Prelude and Forward.

Triumph really does need to be read last, after everything else, however. Hell, if you can even get the Caliban books read...
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Old January 12 2009, 02:21 PM   #5
ATimson
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Re: Reading order of Asimov's Foundation books?

Allyn Gibson wrote: View Post
Indeed, I would strenuously suggest reading the sequel books prior to the prequel books. The big reveal in Earth would be spoiled if Prelude or Forward are read before it.
I don't remember the writing order offhand, but after
, I don't think it's terribly much of a surprise.
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Old January 12 2009, 05:10 PM   #6
Allyn Gibson
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Re: Reading order of Asimov's Foundation books?

The publication order was:
  • Foundation's Edge
  • The Robots of Dawn
  • Robots and Empire
  • Foundation and Earth

Even though the two "universes" are explicitly linked by the first three,
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Old January 12 2009, 05:29 PM   #7
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Re: Reading order of Asimov's Foundation books?

Prelude and Forward are decent books, but the rest are only worth reading if you're strongly curious. The sequels were not Asimov's best work.
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Old January 12 2009, 07:12 PM   #8
Haytil
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Re: Reading order of Asimov's Foundation books?

Like the "Dune" books, the "Star Trek" series, the "Star Wars" movies, and all other media with sequels and prequels, it is best to read in the published order.

They were written by the authors with the assumption that readers had read all that had been written before. Revelations, twists, call-backs, inside jokes, and homages - both dramatic and unimportant - are always included with this assumption in mind.
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Old January 12 2009, 07:49 PM   #9
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Re: Reading order of Asimov's Foundation books?

The Caves Of Steel

The Naked Sun

they both have rDaneille O'livah <sp?>
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Old January 12 2009, 08:26 PM   #10
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Re: Reading order of Asimov's Foundation books?

Stiletto wrote: View Post
The Caves Of Steel

The Naked Sun

they both have rDaneille O'livah <sp?>
R. Daneel Olivaw.
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Old January 13 2009, 12:17 AM   #11
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Re: Reading order of Asimov's Foundation books?

Personally, I wouldn't bother with the non-Asimov books. I found them to be pretty horrible.
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Old January 13 2009, 02:07 AM   #12
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Re: Reading order of Asimov's Foundation books?

The Caliban trilogy is the best Asimov that Asimov didn't write.

Foundation and Chaos and Foundation's Triumph are excellent as well.

Foundation's Fear is interesting, but not Asimovian.

Psychohistorical Crisis is really good, but also really dense.

I loved Robot City when I was young, but they're not that good.
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Old January 13 2009, 06:33 AM   #13
Vinta 18
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Re: Reading order of Asimov's Foundation books?

^ I LOVE Psychohistorical Crisis. It's the Foundation universe taken into the cyberpunk age.
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Old January 13 2009, 06:41 AM   #14
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Re: Reading order of Asimov's Foundation books?

Vinta 18 wrote: View Post
^ I LOVE Psychohistorical Crisis. It's the Foundation universe taken into the cyberpunk age.
And without that messy
stuff.
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Old January 13 2009, 01:45 PM   #15
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Re: Reading order of Asimov's Foundation books?

ATimson wrote: View Post
Vinta 18 wrote: View Post
^ I LOVE Psychohistorical Crisis. It's the Foundation universe taken into the cyberpunk age.
And without that messy
stuff.
That's the implication of Foundation's Triumph, that
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