Isaac Asimov’s Foundation and the trilogy named after it represent a pinnacle in science fiction. Science fiction lovers from every walk of life have joined together to praise Asimov and Foundation. Furthermore, this series has been awarded the first Hugo Award for Best Science Fiction Series. Not before or since the publication of Foundation has this award been given. Despite this recognition, the mainstream literary critics ignore works of science fiction as candidates for more prestigious awards. Instead, science fiction is often dismissed as technology-dependent literature, immature in character development, theme, and structure. A large portion of the literary world still levels a sniff and a scoff toward Foundation and indeed the entire genre of science fiction.
Asimov’s Foundation can be seen as an archetype demonstrating the validity of science fiction and refuting these criticisms. It is argued that the writings of Asimov are the foundation upon which much of science fiction is built upon. From the outset Asimov maintained a strong faith in the genre, believing that its status will be enhanced with time. “If enough people read science fiction or are, at least, sufficiently influenced by people who read science fiction” he wrote, “enough of the population may come to accept change….”(Asimov 4)
Several differences between Foundation, and therefore science fiction exemplified by Foundation, and the other divisions of literature must be considered before judging the genre. First, a whole different approach must be taken before judgment. Foundation deals with a nearly limitless range of possibilities. Therefore, the mind must be adapted to put aside incredulity and disbelief.
Secondly, Foundation deals with event…
…elope into unknown territory. This constitutes change. Historically, change is slow to come. The negative and judgmental reactions to Foundation and science fiction come from those who resist change, however unfounded their criticism may be.
Science fiction is the one branch of literature that accepts the fact of change, the inevitability of change. Without the initial assumption that there will be change, there is no such thing as science fiction, for nothing is science fiction unless it includes events played out against a social or physical background significantly different from our own.(Asimov 4)
In our view, science fiction, particularly as represented by such works as Asimov’s Foundation, is a valid form of literature, and time will see it through.
Asimov, Isaac. Foundation and Empire. Garden City, NY: Double Day & Company,. 1952.