• Isaac Asimov, born in 1919, was the son of a candy-store owner
who discovered science fiction at a young age through monthly
science fiction magazines
• Asimov received a Ph.D. in chemistry at Columbia University and
worked as an associate professor of biochemistry
• He resigned from his post in 1958 to take up writing as a full-time
occupation. As a full-time author Asimov was able to significantly
increase his body of work, completing over 400 stories by his death
Asimov as a Futurist
• Asimov’s science fiction examined the effects of technology on the
development of society. The increasingly mechanized society that
he saw as he wrote was a trend that he seems to have seen
continuing into the future.
• This focus on technology as a significant factor influencing the
future is part of what makes Asimov a futurist in his essay on the
• Asimov used technology and society to predict changes in the
future within Foundation and in the real world.
Asimov as a Futurist
• His essay on the future showed a real world application of the
psychohistory explored in Foundation.
• He used his knowledge of the present at the time of writing to
extrapolate and predict the future.
• Technology played a very important part in how he predicted
society would advance.
• His method of predicting the future followed a similar path as the
science of psychohistory
• Published over 200 books in the decades
following the release of his first novel, Pebble in
the Sky, in 1950.
• His writing was incredibly diverse and contributed
to a variety of academic disciplines including
mathematics, the sciences, and history.
• Asimov believed that technology and human
reaction were an important part of the future and
the prediction of it.
• His work written as a part of the science fiction
genre followed a course defined by Asimov
himself in his thoughts on exactly what science
• According to Asimov, science fiction was the
“branch of literature which deals with the
response of human beings to changes in the level
of science and technology. Over the past two
centuries, we have watched our society grow
more and more machine-made, so to speak; and I
assume that in one of our possible futures,
machines will continue to play more and more of
a part in our society - in fact, to the point where
machines may eventually ‘take over.’”
Contextualizing Asimov’s Contributions to Science Fiction
• Asimov’s early work received coverage in Amazing Stories, a
monthly science fiction magazine from the 1950s, and was a part
of a significant increase in importance for the science fiction genre
• Although Asimov’s
writing began to gain
prominence as part of a
rise in the popularity of
science fiction, the genre
was not particularly well
regarded during the start
of his ascent.
Contextualizing Asimov’s Contributions to Science Fiction
• His name held clout in the science fiction world, seen in the
creation of Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction, a science fiction
magazine featuring his name, stories, and editorials.
• Science fiction magazines were a change from the earlier science
fiction and fantasy pulp magazines of the 1930s and 1940s:
“Scientific speculation moved from the pulps into the bookstores
and became specialized imprints of major publishing houses”.
• Asimov used his writing to explore his views on the exploration of
the future through hard science fiction that focused more on the
science aspect of science fiction.
• Asimov’s Foundation trilogy was a very
important series of novels that covered a
period of time exceeding a thousand
years. In this coverage, Asimov looked at
the rise and fall of the Galactic Empire as
well as the rise of later powers in the
forms of the first and second
• The Foundation series was a way for
Asimov to express his views on futurism
through his writing
• The first novel, Foundation, looked at the
creation of the Foundation and its
development on the fringes of the Galactic
Empire. The Foundation itself was a colony
that existed to protect and maintain art,
science, and technology until the Foundation
could reach a position of power that would
allow for dissemination.
• The rise of the Foundation was based off of
psychohistory, a method of predicting the
future based on statistics and the effect of
these statistics on large populations.
Foundation and Empire
• Foundation and Empire, the second novel in
the series, covered the further rise of the
Foundation and how this rise brought it into
full-scale conflict with the declining Galactic
Empire. In the wake of the defeat of the
Galactic Empire and the rise of the
Foundation to a position of power a new
threat arose, one that had not been seen in
• The predictive science that they had used to
gain power was seen to be fallible, an
interesting development regarding the
power of futurism in the Foundation
• Second Foundation, the third and final
novel in the original Foundation trilogy,
focused on the decline of the first
Foundation and the rise of its successor.
The Second Foundation was another
colony that featured the most intelligent
humans in the galaxy and was presented
as a threat to the first Foundation.
• The importance of psychohistory was a
focus, as being able to utilize it properly
was required for victory.
Later Additions to Foundation
• Asimov added two additional novels to the Foundation series that
reflected his changing views about psychohistory. Asimov began to
believe that psychohistory would only be able to continue to be
effective if human thoughts and trends advanced with it.
• This meant a shift in focus, away from psychohistory and towards
the societal trends and patterns necessary for it.
Significance of Foundation
• Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series played a large part in his
designation as a futurist. The rise and fall of empires in the series
revolved around accurate prediction of the future based on existing
factors and how they were expected to affect the future. This
method of prediction, though characterized as a science in the
series, is similar to futurism in the real world.
• Foundation featured a focus on the social concerns of the various
planets that made up the universe. Through analysis of these
concerns, the Foundation was able to predict the future and use it
to their benefit
Futurism in Foundation
• Psychohistory offers an example of futurism within futurism as far
as Asimov’s views in the real world affecting his fictional writing.
• The Foundation series looked at a future affected by technological
change and the further changes brought on by it.
• Foundation was a vehicle used by Asimov to explore and spread his
belief in futurism.
• Science fiction allowed Asimov to take his analysis of the present in
predicting the future as seen in his essay and explore it to its limits.
• Asimov’s essay in the New York Times showed a real world
application of futurism.
• Following the World Fair of 1946, Asimov tried to predict how the
world would advance by the year 2014.
• The changes he predicted featured on a broad spectrum, notably
including gadgetry advances that he predicted would transform
daily life in a variety of areas.
• Societal and technological changes predicted by Asimov based on
current events played a large part in his predictions.
• Advanced technology was a major part of how Asimov believed the
future would progress.
• The technological advances that he predicted were largely based off
of the societal changes that he experienced and knew would have
to be dealt with.
• He also predicted societal crises that would arise out of current
Futurism in Asimov’s Essay
• Asimov used social and technological factors from the present to
predict how the future would be different from the present.
• He focused on technological change as coming in response to a
• Technological advances were the main thing focused on by Asimov
in his essay but he also predicted social developments like
overpopulation, all based on current events at the time of writing.
• Psychohistory required analyzing societal concerns and statistics
from a large sample to determine the course of the future.
• Though psychohistory was considered a science in Foundation, the
basic methodology of using current trends to try to predict the
future is part of futurism in the real world.
• The series looked at the importance of science, technology, and
culture within society as well as how these factors could advance
• Asimov’s essay looked at societal problems as being a catalyst for
• Societal problems were also used to look at what could happen to
humanity over the course of several decades.
Futurism: Science & Technology
• Science and technology were originally the basis of psychohistory in
the Foundation series and both were an important part of why the
• Asimov looked at science and technology as essential parts of the
evolution of society and necessary for a progressive path to the
• Science and technology related to society and advanced to deal
with emerging societal problems.
• Isaac Asimov was a futurist and showed his belief in the discipline
through his writing.
• The Foundation series showed the potential power and limitations
• Asimov’s belief in futurism as far as predictions was seen in
psychohistory, though he also showed how unpredictable it could
• Technology and society, as well as their relationship, were
important parts of predicting the future in the series and in reality.
• Asimov’s essay was a real world application of the psychohistory he
explored in Foundation and showed how important futurism was to
him in his writing and his life.