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by Isaac Asimov

Analysis: Trivia

Brain Snacks: Tasty Tidbits of Knowledge

You think you write a lot for school? Well, Asimov once calculated the volumes of his entire oeuvre (that's a fancy French term meaning all of the works of an artist or writer taken as a whole; it's pronounced oov-ruh). Guess what number he got? 500 volumes! Wow. Granted, scholars have gone back and recalculated the number to be more along the lines of 200 distinct works, but still. That's a whole lot of writing. (source)

People who are into science fiction love Isaac Asimov whole bunches, and they show it. How? They heap tons and tons of awards on him. The Science Fiction Writer's Association voted Asimov's short story "Nightfall" the best science fiction story of all time. Yeah, all time and forever. They also bestowed upon him the Damon Knight Grandmaster award in 1987. As we mentioned in our "In a Nutshell" section, the Foundation series was given a one-of-a-kind Hugo for best all time series. And we haven't covered the awards he's been given for individual novels and stories. Like we said, lots of love. (source and source)

If you're a completionist, get ready for a whole lot of reading. Beyond the Foundation series, Asimov created two other famous series, the Galactic Empire series and the Robot series. In his novel Robots and Empire, Asimov setup the Robot series as a precursor to both the Galactic Empire series AND the Foundation series, creating one gigantic meta-series. Good luck reading all those. Might we suggest buying your coffee in bulk? (source)

If you've googled Foundation, you might have found that there seem to be two different versions to choose from: one called the Foundation trilogy and another called the Foundation series. What's up with that? Well, we put on our deerstalker and this is what we found:

Between 1951-1953, Asimov published three books of Foundation stories. This is called the Foundation trilogy, and it remained a trilogy for decades. Then, in the 80s, Asimov and other writers began writing even more Foundation stories. When those stories were published in book form, the Foundation trilogy became the Foundation series. In terms of story, the books go in the following order (we put the publication dates in parenthesis):

  • Prelude to Foundation (1988)
  • Forward the Foundation (1993)
  • Foundation's Fear (1997), written by Gregory Benford
  • Foundation and Chaos (1998), written by Greg Bear
  • Foundation's Triumph (1999), written by David Brin
  • Foundation (1951)
  • Foundation and Empire (1952)
  • Second Foundation (1953)
  • Foundation's Edge (1982)
  • Foundation and Earth (1983)

Of course, this chronology doesn't include either the Robot series or the Galactic Empire series. But for the sake of our sanity, we're just going to leave it here for now. (source)

This sounds backward, but it's completely true. The first story of Foundation—"The Psychohistorians"—was actually the last story Asimov wrote for the original Foundation trilogy. When Asimov first submitted the stories of Foundation for publication, his editor said there needed to be something at the beginning, something to set up the stories to come. So, Asimov whipped up "The Psychohistorians," the story that told the birth of the first and second Foundation and the only story—at the time—to feature Hari Seldon in the flesh. (source)

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