Asimov’s arrogance was annoying, but he was brilliant. He began writing Foundation at age twenty-one, just after WWII. The premise was staggering: the currency of power changes as civilization evolves. In this first book, those currencies are education, religion, and commerce.
This book sets the bar for what successful science fiction stories are: as modern science fiction found its nascence in short stories, Foundation is really just a collection of short stories, with catapulting story lines, immense and amazing ideas crammed into each page, and creative resolutions. This story is the Model A of science fiction. It is basic, without character development or pretty writing, but if you don’t have what is in this story, you probably don’t have a science fiction story. And these tales are proof that genius need not be perfect.
So what did it teach me about science fiction writing? Short chapters, and like in volleyball – set up your spike as quickly as possible. Every page has ideas and observations about science, humanity, and civilization. Also, when you don’t know what to say, put science in!