This is a prequel to the Foundation trilogy, which in itself was followed by Foundation’s Edge and Foundation and Earth. Those two sequels aren’t as good as the first 3 books, but they are much, much better than this one. Even though it is a prequel, I do not advise on reading it first. It might damage one’s opinion of the entire series, or even cause uninterest in the “real” trilogy, which would be a dying shame.
Prelude to Foundation is, however, a quick and at times fun read, and has a good ending, so for anybody who has read and enjoyed the first 3 (or 5) books, it’s a nice addition to the series. But it is not much more: taken on its own it’s rather bland, especially the middle part, so please: don’t start here, just read everything in order of publication.
The first 3 books of the Foundation series are a true monument of SF, with wild ideas, a vast and breathtaking scope and a really interesting story. This book has none of that: it is basically Hari Seldon visiting four different sectors (with a different culture) of Trantor, in order to learn something from those cultures so he can work out the basics of his psychohistory. This starting up of psychohistory is sketchy at best, and there’s not that much to be learned about it you didn’t already know if you’ve read the rest. Seldon gets in some trouble, there’s some fighting, there’s some political scheming, and again there’s a link with the robot novels (as in the 2 sequels), etc., but nothing like the plot of the Trilogy.
I hope the final book, a sequel to this story (and so a prequel to the others as well), is a lot better…
originally written on the 2nd of October, 2014