Half a decade in the making, 137,000 words long, Robots and Foundation is the most comprehensive (yet accessible!) reader’s guide ever written for Isaac Asimov’s epic future history. My new book has a far-out cover designed by Emily Hanson. Here’s the description:
Spanning 14 novels and 37 short stories, Isaac Asimov’s future history is a singular achievement by the polymath author who became science fiction’s first household name. This comprehensive but approachable guide helps readers navigate their way through Asimov’s engrossing world and understand the stories in the context of the author’s life and times.
In the Golden Age of Science Fiction, Asimov created two of the best-loved series in the genre’s history: the Foundation stories told the epic tale of a fallen Galactic Empire, while Asimov’s robot stories were shaped by his vastly influential Three Laws of Robotics. Then, at the height of his success, Asimov put his career in science fiction on hiatus to focus on writing nonfiction, penning books on everything from biochemistry to the Bible.
In the final decade of his life, he returned to his classic series with the staggeringly ambitious goal of uniting the robot stories and the Foundation saga. Through several new bestselling novels, Asimov forged his iconic stories into a single series following humanity from little Gloria’s first encounter with the lovable robot Robbie through the rise and fall of a Galactic Empire and into the 242nd century, when an extraordinary revelation forces humans to rethink everything they thought they knew about the course of their own history. In this book, the first of its kind to encompass Asimov’s entire unified future history, critic Jay Gabler provides a detailed guide to each and every novel and story in the series, drawing connections across the narrative and enriching readers’ appreciation of the author and his historical context. It’s a clear-eyed view for the 21st century reader, both a celebration of an extraordinary writer and an acknowledgement of his limitations, including a problematic personal life that was partially reflected in his fiction.
Whether you’re a lifelong Asimov aficionado or a reader who’s just discovering his dazzling worlds, Robots and Foundation is an invaluable guide to the sprawling, fascinating future history that helped give shape to science fiction as we know it.
I’ve also recently published a related essay on LitHub: “What to Make of Isaac Asimov, Sci-Fi Giant and Dirty Old Man?” I hope people will find my work of value as they get ready to watch the new Apple TV+ series based on Asimov’s Foundation series.