I recently began reading the Foundation Trilogy by Isaac Asimov. It is well known as one of the original sci-fi series written way back in 1951. The series is actually mind-blowingly good… it’s far better than the Lord of the Rings series published at the same time. You can also tell that the Dune series written in 1965 by Frank Herbert was very heavily influenced by this series.
I am halfway through the second book right now and I am very impressed with it. I am shocked it was written in 1951, as it is as strongly written as any sci fi or fantasy series written after it.
The Foundation Trilogy does not follow a set of characters, but rather a chain of historical events. It is set some 20,000 years in the future when humanity has spread out across the Milky Way and is governed by the all-powerful Galactic Empire. A “psycho-historian” – basically a scientist who uses mathematical models for human behavior the same way a physicist models atomic behavior – named Hari Seldon realizes that the Galactic Empire is collapsing and that there will be a 30,000 year long dark age before the rise of the Second Galactic Empire. Hari cannot do anything to prevent the collapse, but he does see that he can influence events in such a way to shorten the Dark Age to only 1,000 years. He sets up two planets at opposite ends of the galaxy to do so and the series follows one of the planets and the people on it, called the “Foundation”.
Really great series, I strongly recommend it!