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How to read Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series

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If you already have read the Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series, the order I recommend in this article isn’t necessarily the one you would advise. Some of you maybe would prefer to read the series in the chronological order.

I speak here to people who never still read this fascinating series. The order I recommend suppress the spoilers which might ruin the element of surprise of one of the books. It’s finally the order of writing of this work.

The fundamentals

To begin, there’s nothing like the original series, the three books published between 1951 and 1953:

  • Foundation
  • Foundation and Empire
  • Second Foundation

In these three books, we follow the fall of the galactic Empire and the raise, during two hundred years, of the two Foundations – one on the Terminus planet, the other « at the other end of the galaxy ». The end stay relatively open and we imagine the advent of the second galactic Empire in the future eight hundred years.

The sequels

The series stayed here until 1981 when Doubleday, the Asimov’s publisher, commanded to him a sequel. The first novel, published in 1982, was so well sale that, immediately after, Asimov wrote another sequel, as well as other novels (I won’t say anymore to not spoil) allowing to regroup his three major series in an « future’s history » of the twenty-five thousands year to come.

So, after having devour the original series, you could read its official sequel:

  • Foundation’s Edge
  • Foundation and Earth

The prequels

From that moment, it should be missing something to Foundation. Indeed, when the original series begins, Hari Seldon – the visionary who predicted the fall of the Empire and imagined a plan to revive it – is an old man and his Psychohistory well-proven. But the question every readers are asking is the following: « How Hari Seldon built this famous Psychohistory? »

The answer came from 1988 when Asimov published two novels taking place chronologically before Foundation and speaking about the adventures on Trantor, the planet-capital of the Empire, of the young mathematician, adventures which conduct him to built his Psychohistory:

  • Prelude to Foundation
  • Forward the Foundation

The disciples

Here ends Foundation like it has been imagined by the Good Doctor. However, Foundation isn’t dead. Indeed, a few authors have chosen to expand the Master’s work by writing novels placed in the same universe:


  • Psychohistorial Crisis, by Donald Kingsbury (2001)

also a collection of short stories written by different authors:

  • Foundation’s Friends (1989)

After that?

If you’re still not replete, I counsel you to read the Robot series, the masterpiece of the Good Doctor’s work.

Updated: 5 April 2020 — 20 h 06 min
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