The Foundation Series, written by Isaac Asimov over a time span of 49 years, is a fourteen-volume collection consisting of the Robot Series and the Empire Series. It is set in the same fictional universe, and it is claimed to be the most successful science-fiction series ever written. Foundation, Foundation and Empire, and Second Foundation make up the Foundation Trilogy. After Asimov’s death, other authors who had collaborated with Asimov about the series wrote six of the fourteen novels. The Foundation Series received a Hugo Award in 1965 for the “Best All-Time Series”.
In this series, the main character Hari Seldon spends his life creating a branch of mathematics called psychohistory. Psychohistory was a branch of mathematics created by Asimov and his editor that used the law of mass action to predict the future on a large scale. Hari Seldon sees the fall of the Galactic Empire, which encompasses the Milky Way. Seldon also predicts that a dark age, spanning 30,000 years, will occur before the rise of the next great empire. On the planet Terminus, Seldon creates a small refuge of technology in the corner of the galaxy, known as the Foundation. The Foundation preserves current knowledge after the Galactic Empire collapses, and because of this, the time before the Empire is able to rebuild, is reduced to 1,000 years.
Elements of this particular series were used by George Lucas when he created the universe in Star Wars, which is based loosely upon the universe Asimov created. Lucas’ Galactic Empire was found to be evil, whereas the Empire that Asimov created was not. Coruscant, an imperial planet, contains buildings that are open to the air, whereas Trantor is covered with domed cities. The character of Han Solo also resembles Asimov’s character, Lathan Devers.
At the heart of the Foundation Series is the study of how a civilization develops over time using history as its principal guide. The series looks at these trends in time over a wider extent, looking at how the civilisations and communities change and adapt. Psychohistory is often viewed as something that is necessary, rather than a deviation for the greater good.
Another focus of the series is individualism. Society (or the Foundation) turns into a mob of non-thinking people, and few can avoid or fight it. One of the characters, The Mule, a character with astonishing powers, topples the Foundation. The Second Foundation creates a plan to repair any damage created by the Mule. This plan however, placed no value on a human being’s individuality. The human beings violated the fundamental concepts of psychohistory, thus making science unable to predict the future.