Yesterday I gave several gifts to people I like very much. One in particular was the “Foundation Trilogy” by Isaac Asimov. I gave this to an incandescently brilliant eleven year old boy, the son of a good friend of mine.
Not only hadn’t he ever read it – he’d never heard of it. I suspect a lot of eleven year olds today have never heard of “Foundation”. There is (apparently) no movie deal attached to this trilogy, and therefore no reason for large commercial forces to hype it. And yet, watching my young friend read the back jacket, seeing his gradual understanding of what he held in his hands, was very moving to me.
I had first read “Foundation” when I was the same age he is now – about eleven – and it had had a profound effect on me. Sure, I had been reading SciFi before then, but “Foundation” was different. It seemed to resonate on so many levels – psychological, political, sociological – that one could spend years poring over it, and never run out of things to discover. The openmindedness with which Asimov engaged concepts and ideas – the way he would trust his reader, casually crossing boundaries between ways of thinking – was indeed a foundation for much of what would become my own way of looking at the world.
It is good to know that this sort of storytelling magic might still work its wonders on someone who is now eleven. Hopefully one day, when he is older – like I am now – my young friend will return the favor by giving this delightful book, or another of his choice, to some curious young member of a generation yet to come.