Foundation Historical Context 📖

‘Foundation’ is a novel that used extensive world-building, political conceptualization, and elements of the real-world history to form a story that portrayed a picture of how a futuristic human society would exist.


Isaac Asimov

With excellently designed plots and fluid storytelling, Isaac Asimov created the cornerstone for world-building in science fiction. The creation of ‘Foundation’ influenced stories like ‘Dune,’ and with Asimov’s attention to originality and authenticity, the novel became a landmark in science fiction writing.

Foundation by Isaac Asimov Historical and Literary Context

Historical Context

With Foundation‘ telling the story of a future Galactic Empire, the novel shows how the delicate balance of power turns the tides of massive governments. It got created from the inspiration of the Roman Empire that fell in 395AD. Isaac Asimov’s choice to write a story inspired by the Roman Empire birthed a novel on which many science fiction stories stand. It was one of the first science fiction stories to pay attention to the religious, cultural, and political complexities existing in its world; this served as an influence for novels like ‘Dune’ by Frank Herbert.

Isaac Asimov’s attention to unique vocabulary and detailed story writing made ‘Foundation‘ stand out. From unique names for his characters to words for scientific concepts and planets, ‘Foundation’ became a novel that inspired real-world ideas. From Astrophysics to Mathematics, ‘Foundation’ became a beacon that ignited curiosity and sparked scientific concepts to life.

Cultural Context

Foundation’ is a novel that has proven to be a treasure to the world of science and technology. The novel’s vast world and storytelling became the ignition and inspiration for fictional and non-fictional concepts. Works of media and literature like Star Wars and ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’ got partly inspired by the novel.

From the novel, Psychohistory became a real-world field of study. Psychohistory in ‘Foundation’ is a term that describes the merger of psychology, history, and social sciences to explain the ‘why’ of history. Gaining its creation from ‘Foundation,’ psychohistory has become a broad and crucial part of the humanities field of study. From the concept of Psychohistory came concepts like psychobiography, mechanisms of psychic defense, and group dynamics. The novel also influenced Psychoanalysis, the set of theories and techniques used to deal with the unconscious mind, by creating a link between it and the research method of the social sciences.

Foundation’s influence on science expanded further into the world of Economics. Nobel laureate, Paul Krugman, admitted that he got drawn into the field of Economics as he wanted to prove that Isaac Asimov’s psychohistory could be created and used in the real world to formulate predictive models for governments.

Here is the psychohistory theory as stipulated in the novel, The Three Theorems of Psychohistorical Quantitivity:

  • The population under scrutiny is oblivious to the existence of the science of Psychohistory.
  • The periods dealt with are in the region of 3 generations.
  • The population must be in the billions (±75 billion) for a statistical probability to have a psycho-historical validity.

Adaptation and Awards

Initially, ‘Foundation’ could not get made into a film because of its complexity and a lack of filming technology. However, in 2021, Apple TV, a subsidiary of Apple, adapted Foundation into a television series. The first season featured ten episodes with David S. Goyer and Josh Friedman as executive producers.

Though the Foundation series got created from Isaac Asimov’s novel, the screen adaptation made dramatic changes to the characters in the story; this is evident from the fact that some characters like Gaal Dornick and Salvor Hardin got adapted for the screen as women. In 1966, the Foundation’ trilogy won the Hugo Award for Best All-Time Series.


Is Foundation an interesting TV series?

Apple TV’s ‘Foundation‘ is a masterpiece that brings exceptional cinematography to the screen. Though the series slightly differs from the novel, it does justice to the story and action.

What is the difference between the Foundation TV series and the novel?

Apple TV’s ‘Foundation’ got adapted from the novel by Isaac Asimov. However, the TV series has many differences from the book. The first difference between the TV series and the book is the characters. In Foundation,’ all the primary characters are men. However, the TV series made some characters like Gaal Dornick and Salvor Hardin women. The TV series featured the Emperor of the Galactic Empire, whereas the book focused on the Foundation and its neighbors.

Did ‘Foundation‘ inspire Dune?

Though Dune and ‘Foundation’ are different in their story approach, they have a similar thematic structure because they both focus on the impact of politics and religion on human society. Before ‘Foundation,’ science fiction authors never focused on politics. However, after its success, they started paying attention to politics, ecology, and power. Among those novels was ‘Dune.’

What made Foundation by Isaac Asimov different?

Before ‘Foundation,’ science fiction authors only wrote about space wars and alien invasions. However, Isaac Asimov brought the concept of using politics in science fiction; this made his novel stand out as something different.

Joshua Ehiosun
About Joshua Ehiosun
Joshua is an undying lover of literary works. With a keen sense of humor and passion for coining vague ideas into state-of-the-art worded content, he ensures he puts everything he's got into making his work stand out. With his expertise in writing, Joshua works to scrutinize pieces of literature.
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