The opening episode begins on Trantor, capital of the Galactic Empire, with the meeting of Seldon and Dornick, their trial, and their exile to Terminus. The action then jumps forward 50 years, to the first Seldon Crisis, where the repercussions of the recent independence of the Four Kingdoms of the Periphery are being felt on Terminus, and are handled by the first Mayor, Salvor Hardin. The scene then moves forward a further 20 years, as Mayor Hardin faces down the domination of the nearby and most powerful Kingdom, Anacreon.
The Merchant Princes
One-hundred-fifty years after the Foundation was established, the now powerful trading nation faces its greatest threat to date, guided by master trader Hober Mallow.
Two hundred years after its creation, the Foundation battles Bel Riose, the last powerful General of the dying Galactic Empire.
A further hundred years have passed, and the Foundation is challenged by an unexpected threat named The Mule.
Flight from the Mule
During the war against The Mule, with things going badly for the Foundation, some key figures under the leadership of the Foundation's greatest scientist, Ebling Mis, flee Terminus in search of the Second Foundation, to warn it of the danger from The Mule.
The Mule Finds
The Mule attempts to find and overthrow the Second Foundation.
Sixty years later, and a teenage girl is at the center of the Foundation's renewed search for the Second Foundation.
Changes from the written Trilogy: The conflict between The Foundation and Anacreon takes place 70 years into the Foundation era; in the novels it occurs at 80 F.E. A small segment in Foundation titled "Traders" has been removed entirely. General editing for time has been done throughout. A large, rather comedic section on farming on Rossem has been added to "The Mule Finds".Please note: This is an historical broadcast recording, produced by the BBC in 1973. The audio quality represents the technology of the time when it was produced.
©2011 ABN (P)2011 ABN
Asimov's famous Trilogy, somewhat condensed but adequately so, is acted quite well in this BBC adaptation, but I found the entire effort to be destroyed by overuse of the efforts of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop (circa 1960's - 70's) - early Dr. Who style. These sounds tend to dominate the performance, to the extent that I found this Audible release to be unlistenable. The Overall rating is due to this problem. Get the separate books, narrated rather than dramatized.
Obviously, this is a heavily abbreviated version, and it suffers from the age of the recording. The underlying story is superb, though, and the voice acting is great when audible.
"How can you go wrong with a must read book for $2"
Well they found a way! This is so over produced with music effects and poor control of the sound volume, the book in unlistenable.
You get a couple of lines of dialogue then some weird loud music. It is also very hard to follow a conversation because they have one person talking so softly with a low volume and the other one set high. So if you set your volume so you can hear the lows you get blasted when the other guy talks or the music kicks in.
Someone took this in post production and ruined it!!!!! Luckily Audible has an excellent rendition of Foundation it will cost you quite a bit more but it is worth it; just click on Isaac Asimov’s name above.
"My Ears, My Ears!!"
James totally got it right, the post-production sound is awful. You have to crank up the volume to hear anybody, but then in between scenes or chapters in the book, they have awful '50's and 60's sci-fi electronica that is played at TOP VOLUME! The first time this happened it nearly blew my eardrums in.
I gave is two stars because it is Asimov, but this audiobook is one of the worst I've bought from Audible. There's a reason it's only $2.
"Great Content, Uneven Mastering."
I'm a big enough fan of fan of the books that the negative reviews of the sound quality didn't deter me from buying this item, especially given the low price. Yes, the sound quality is pretty lousy at times: on a few occasions the speech is garbled and/or muted to near-unintelligibility, and the interstitial music levels are way too high throughout. But rather than characterize the effect as being ear-bleedingly awful, I would say that it's a mildly irritating nuisance to the listening experience.
Apart from the lacklustre sound engineering, the adaptation and the performance are excellent. The amusingly futurismic musical effects are just as dated as the golden age SF motifs of the narrative, and so add subtext: the past imagining the future.
On the basis of great content with poor audio quality, I was going to rate it three stars out of five (three and a half, if I could). However, today I found out that the show is also available free of charge from another site, and judging from the reviews over there (and a cursory random listen on my part), that version does not suffer the audio quality problems that this one does.
Presumably somebody at ABN (the distributor) dropped the due diligence ball when acquiring the material from the BBC. If the series truly has been released to the public domain by the BBC (as claimed by the uploading party on archive), then it's ridiculous that a commercially distributed version should have inferior sound quality to the publically available one, $2 price-point or not. Even if the archive item is an illicit upload by a fan, the fact that a superior digital version exists at all should make Audible embarrassed to be hosting this one.
"Performace Great/Audio not so"
I am a great fan of Asimov's Robot & Foundation series, I've read all of the books and want to listen to all of them also. My problem with this dramatization wasn't the performance, but the lack of audio editing. The voices were fine, however the sounds effects were so loud compared to the vocals that it actually hurt my ears.
"Great idea, but poor production"
The good: The Foundation Trilogy is, itself, a great sci-fi epic. This is a very good abridgement...basically, an audio play focusing on the dialog and "action" bits, and with much of the internal narration and descriptions of technology and scenery that made the full version somewhat odd (and overly wordy) are gone. The full version is pretty dry, and this is an improvement....I think this is a great idea.
Also the voice actors are pretty good...many of them are very good actors overall and they do a good job with this material.
It's also nice and cheap.
The bad: The quality of the production is poor. Some of the voices are faint and hard to hear clearly. There is a bit of hiss in the recording as well.
The ugly: The sounds effect and music are awful. Bad 1970's "electro-music" transitions and sound effects are pretty hideous and much louder than the voices (I found this less annoying listening through speakers instead of earbuds, although I still had to keep adjusting the volume). The echo/reverb effect used for the quotations from the Encyclopedia Galactica and elsewhere are unpleasant.
The Summary: I'm giving this 4 stars for a great idea and a great job until post-production. If Audible (or the BBC) could go through it and clean up the post-production, it would be excellent. I disagree with the other reviewers that categorize it as "unlistenable," but years spent of watching "Blake's 7" and early "Doctor Who" may have partially immunized me against the more unpleasant aspects. :-)
Note: There are very good unabridged versions of the 3 books of the Foundation Trilogy, read by Scott Brick, on Audible. Of course, it's 30x the price and 3x the length of this one.
"Good Story, Bad Presentation"
Better audio, clear audio. I realize it's an old BBC radio broadcast but it is very muffled and the volume swings were awful.
As an Asimov fan I was looking forward to this dramatization, but I was disappointed by the audio. The voices were muffled and often very low. When I turned the volume up to hear more clearly the transition audio would kick in and rock me out my seat or blow me out of my car. The tones were like fingernails on a chalkboard.
"Production quality poor. Worth 2 bucks? I guess."
Like the other reviewers, I found the sound effects (particularly the section end "music") extremely jarring. I looked it up, it was made in 1973 and sounds like it...
That said, everything else is exactly what you'd expect from a dramatization. The script is just fine, and the actors are just fine. The pacing is good, and it was (again, excepting the discordant sound effects) enjoyable.
I'd feel ripped off spending a whole credit on this one, but for 2 bucks it's perfectly acceptable. I'd recommend it to Asimov fans in particular, but perhaps not for a general SF audience. It's 3 starts to me, but it might be only 1 star for someone who loves Asimov just a little bit less.
"A Classic Rolls Spray Painted Paisley"
This was horribly over dramatized and extremely disappointing. Did they even listen to what they created after it was in the can? The sound effects are 50s not 70s sounds. Star Trek in the 60s had better sound effects.
The voices are so uneven I can only hear some dialog in a quiet room. If I hadn’t already read the trilogy to the point of knowing what the dialog was supposed to be, I could not have followed the story. The vocalists for the Mule did not fit the part. Too strong a voice for what the character was in the book.
This was a free selection for joining and I still feel like I paid too much.
"Do not get this rendition of this book"
The recording is too muffled, too distorted, and the readers' voices aren't very good either. Do not get this reading of The Foundation.
While I can't deny the other reviews comments on the production elements of this book, they didn't detract from my enjoying the story. I can overlook the silly introduction and ending of each segment without a problem. While obviously streamlined, the meat of the story is still there. A great value at the current price. Not recommended for those who haven't already read the trilogy.
Yes, the sound is bad at times.
Yes, the BBC has this strange thing about using British actors.
Yes, you should keep the volume control close by.
It's still a fun listen and a great story.
"A Muffled Foundation"
This recording originates from 1973 as a BBC radio 4 dramatization and is contemporary with the John Pertwee era of Doctor Who. Not unsurprisingly the sound effects are of their time, with an additional nod to Forbidden Planet. Its effects and music comes from the same stable, the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, as the Hitchhiker?s Guide to the Galaxy. When I originally listened to both of these programmes, in the late Seventies, the sound effects sounded really exciting through a little transistor radio and sometimes through the single earphone that came with it.
I own a tape version that I bought many years ago. The ?hardcopy? version is superior, in quality, to this copy, which from playing the sample sounds muffled as if it had been recorded out of a speaker, from an old LP recording, I?m sure I heard a pop or crackle here or there. I?ve just compared (played through the same speakers) my copy against the Audible sample and while there are passages that have a resonant ambience ? the narrative Encyclopedia Galactica, Court scenes etc. ? the dialogue is clear and crisp (on the hardcopy), as one would expect from the BBC.
This is another example of older recordings needing re-mastering for modern media. I have downloaded a copy of Bill Bryson?s Notes from a Small Island (Unabridged) and it too suffers from this muffled sound quality. I understand Audible are not the originators of the material on their site but they should exercise better quality control before they offer this sort of thing for sale, or perhaps offer a discount for damaged goods.
For the time being I'm sticking to the hardcopy.
"Great story, awful music"
The story as expected is excellent and the abridging has been done well. The voices are good and the timing works. However, the music/sound effects are like Pertwee Dr Who at it's most intrusive and the actors sound like they were recorded in a toilet. In a car you can hardly make out some of the quieter (in the distance) speakers as they boom with too much bass (I turned my bass right down). The musical interludes and intermittent backgrounds on the other hand are too loud, too jarring and just make you wince - they are simply unbearable on headphones - this would be better if the music was cleaned off completely. I'm guessing it was recorded in the 70's.
"A classic ruined"
I got this since I remembered it from long, long ago when I listened to it one Radio 4. I loved it then. The whole thing was ruined by the production which was truly appalling, the dialogue muffled and then any sound effects loud and horrifically sharp, made much worse when listening on headphone. True it was cheap but if I had bought it from a shop I would have taken it back. Very, very poor. My advice - best avoided, really sorry I bought it.
"A great series let down by BBC"
I have been a huge fan of Isaac Asimov for over 40 years and read the first paperback of the 'Foundation' when I was in my teens. I am also a huge fan (usually) of BBC dramatised versions of books.
Unfortunately, this time the great book series was spoilt by annoying sound effects which often obscured the dialogue. I have never, until now, regretted a purchase of an audio book, but this one has left me wishing a had ordered the 'plain' version. Really disappointing. BBC, please use the team that produced 'Hitchhikers Guide', that was brilliant.
"BBC Spoils another good story."
over dramatized with unnecessary sound effects what a waste!. . . . . . . . . .
"Awful sound effects spoil a great story"
If I was not already a fan of the Foundation I would not know whether the story was any good because the sound effects drowned out the narrator. An awful production of a great story
"Asimov at his best. BBC at their worst."
There's nothing more to be said about the classic work that is Foundation, and so I won't. The dramatisation was patchy, trying to squeeze too much of the plot into a limited timeframe. The acting was fine but dated.
For me the big let down was the audio quality, which rendered the dialogue incomprehensible in many places, which with a complex plot like Foundation where you have to be on top of the story as it unfolds, makes for confusing storyline during the bits you can hear. Forget listening to this one in the car, high quality headphones in a silent house are essential.
The story is a classic but the delivery is very dated and the sound effects are very irritating and laughably out of date. I recommend the book but just not this version.
"An impossible task, but worth the effort."
Anyone who has read the complete Foundation Trilogy will realise that cutting it down to 7 hours, whatever is an impossible task. I hope this fine greatly abridged dramatisation will not disappoint too much. They did their best. It's an epic tale spanning centuries of change across the galaxy. The basis of the plot is the idea of psychohistory where it is possible to predict what very large numbers of people will do. We get some good insights into present day politics/religion/commerce too. It's not all blasters and space ships. Fascinating, as Spock would say. Worth a try.
"Can't complain for the price"
I really enjoyed this despite the poor audio quality in parts and the very 1960's dialogue and computer sounds (lots of clicking relays and analogue synthesisers).
Listened while driving so the road noise probably didn't help matters.
I was very fond of the books about 30 years ago so may be a bit biased...
... or maybe the Second Foundation has adjusted me!!
Report Inappropriate Content
If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.