The Foundation Trilogy (Del Rey) contains three of the four foundation stories by the prolific writer - who wrote and published under every one of the major Dewey classification system, Isaac Asimov. The three stories are: Foundation (1951), Foundation and Empire (1952) and Second Foundation (1953). These stories were the first hard-core science fiction I've ever read and because it deals not with aliens but with technology and conquering - two things that rule the world today - I could easily follow the plot.
Asimov's writing is definitely not the best of prose I've ever read but his ideas are top notch. His description of equipment and the technology behind them is amazing and my limited knowledge of technology shows me that most have been realised. The story is about the history of a the galactic empire and how one man Hari Seldon - a brilliant psycho-historian - worked out the probabilities and pathway of saving a generation that is destroying itself. In Today's world, Hari Seldon would have been described as a God, for he projected what will happen to his people, took deliberate care to solve the problem - given the estimated probabilities - and appeared to them at epochal periods given them instructions of what to do next.
Each story has a villain who worked to save the day and most of their actions were accounted for by Hari, though dead several centuries ago. When Hari foresaw the collapse of the Galactic Empire, he took a group of scientist from Trantor to the farthest end of the Galaxy to work on an encyclopaedia that would document all the knowledge that exists; they were not tasked to add to it, at least until Hardin intervened. This became the Encycloepaedia Foundation and they ruled the Foundation. These group of scientists were all physical scientist and not a single psycho-historian was included. They survived threats through their technologies, delicately balancing the powers in the Galaxy. They lacked almost every necessary resource need to survive but they had the intellect and so survived and flourished but also became prized-objects for the Kingdoms in the universe.
In the Foundation and Empire the major threat came from the main galaxy from which they had come and it was directed by the mutant Mule whose appearance was not predicted by Hari's psycho-history estimations. The Mule's strength lies in letting people do whatever he wants without protest or fight. He was a somewhat mind-bender. In the end the Foundation fell to the Mules mental energy. But the Mule had heard of the second Foundation, something which the Foundation itself don't know about and whose existence was hidden from anyone. The Second Foundation - unlike the people of the first Foundation - were mostly made up of psycho-historians who follow Hari Seldon religiously. Their task was to keep the Foundation people safe and protected and to keep themselves hidden whilst controlling affairs. However, the Foundation people saw these group as threat to their own survival.
These stories could easily be supplanted onto the current world situations. It also portrays the ways of the world with countries/empires rising and falling and world domination roller-coastering among countries. The Foundation Trilogy is Asimov's greatest achievement and it needs to be read.