Randy, a friend of mine in junior high somehow knew that I liked to prop myself up in the school library and read old back copies of Science Digest, particularly Asimov's column where he answered reader's questions. I guess he knew this because for my thirteenth birthday he gave me a paperback copy of Foundation and Empire. Actually, now that I think on it Randy had previously turned me on to an anthology of Asimov's science writing, "Where Do We Go From Here?" so the novel was a natural.
I quickly discovered that this was the second volume in a trilogy, which meant that Randy hadn't read it, so I set out to get the first at the family's next shopping trip to Fred Meyers. I found it, begged the money and scored.
Now the actual reading part made me nervous. This particular edition from the Sixties had surreal, cubist illustrations on the covers and that scared me. I didn't understand Cubism so there was every possibility I wouldn't understand the book.
The table of contents was not exactly descriptive of the action:
PART I: THE PSYCHOHISTORIANS 1
PART II: THE ENCYCLOPEDISTS 47
PART III THE MAYORS 91
PART IV THE TRADERS 171
PART V THE MERCHANT PRINCES 203
And the chapters started out with an excerpt from the Encyclopedia Glactica and I knew I hadn't read that! Daunting for someone still reading Superman.
Funny in retrospect. Who is easier to read than Asimov? I couldn't have found a easier introduction to science fiction.
Foundation And Empire