5.0 out of 5 stars Engaging Story in an Excellent Well-Thought Possible Future
I was so fortunate to come across this fascinating book. Imagine that you find yourself appearing before a high court and being sentenced for some terrible crime -- except you can't remember who you are or what you did. And your brain enhancer/ memory keeper/ skills archive that's been with you since you learned to walk has been removed. What's going on?
Published on Dec 28 2001 by praxishabitus
3.0 out of 5 stars way too long
Way too long; precious little adventure. He should have stuck to Asimov's pattern or been more creative like Burgauer.
Published on April 18 2003
Most Helpful First | Newest First
5.0 out of 5 stars Engaging Story in an Excellent Well-Thought Possible Future,
This review is from: Psychohistorical Crisis (Hardcover)I was so fortunate to come across this fascinating book. Imagine that you find yourself appearing before a high court and being sentenced for some terrible crime -- except you can't remember who you are or what you did. And your brain enhancer/ memory keeper/ skills archive that's been with you since you learned to walk has been removed. What's going on?
The book combines the hard science of Ben Bova with a good yarn of Orson Scott Card. Written by a mathematician, this book continues in the universe established by Asimov years ago in a thoroughly engaging possible future taking place multiple thousand years from now. If you like Asimov, you'll love this book. If you've never read Asimov or hate him, guess what? You'll still love this book. Be patient in learning this new world. There's a lot of history to master and a few names to remember, but the journey is well worth the effort.
Cheers to the author!
4.0 out of 5 stars Thematic sequel to Asimov's Foundation Novels,
A few years ago, the Asimov estate authorized three Foundation novels, by Gregory Benford, Greg Bear and David Brin. I stopped reading that series after the first, when I realized Benford rehashed and imported large portions of two novellas of his to make up the bulk of that book.
Psychohistorical Crisis is a different kettle of fish. Not an authorized sequel or officially set in the Asimov universe, it nevertheless is understood to take place in a world very much like that. Names are changed. Earth is Rith, Trantor is Splendid Wisdom. But the universe is here. The time is the Second Empire, the one set up after the Interrgenum by the psychohistorians. We get a look at the galaxy under their rule.
Although jumping a few viewpoints and characters and time frames, the story focuses around a psychohistorian, Eron Osa, and the consequences of his crime that he cannot remember. But there is much more at work. We see his life history, and many points of major characters connected to him. As psychohistory is a fusion of history and mathematics, there are helpings of both in this book.
Dense is a good way to describe the book. It moves patiently and slowly, and I get the feeling the book itself has been cut, since some viewpoint characters have oddly truncated end-games. But the journey there is immersive, and Kingsbury makes you feel the age of the Empire. And his central thesis about psychohistory is fascinating.
Its not light reading by any means, but nevertheless its recommended. A caveat: reading or being familiar with Asimov's Foundation universe will make the experience richer and worthwhile. I wouldn't read this book without having at least sampled the original ur-text.
4.0 out of 5 stars A re-imagined future of the Foundation,
By A Customer
This review is from: Psychohistorical Crisis (Hardcover)There may be fans of Isaac Asimov's Foundation series who think that its integration with his Robot novels was a crowning achievement. I am not one of those fans, and apparently neither is Donald Kingsbury, the author of Psychohistorical Crisis. Over a thousand years after the end of Asimov's original trilogy (Foundation, Foundation and Empire, and Second Foundation), Kingsbury resumes the story during a crisis period of the Second Empire. The preservation of civilization once again depends on human ingenuity and insight (aided by the mathematics of psychohistory), not on manipulation by robotic protectors. I found Psychohistorical Crisis to be much more satisfying as a continuation of the original Foundation series than any of Asimov's later novels. It gets four stars due to the rushed ending. I only wish Kingsbury had taken more time, and maybe a hundred more pages, to finish.
5.0 out of 5 stars Required Reading for Science Fiction Lovers,
This review is from: Psychohistorical Crisis (Hardcover)Hi,
I have often browsed book reviews online but have never written one. Until now.
Psychohistorical Crisis is a work of surpassing brilliance but it is not for everyone.
If you're looking for a quick read, look elsewhere: Donald Kingsbury has decided to immerse you in Isaac Asimov's "Foundation" universe and show you what a galaxy with 100,000 years of history might be like. Any science fiction writer can waves his hands and say "thousands of years," but Kingsbury can make you feel those years.
If you're looking for epic space battles, look elsewhere: A character in Asimov's original Foundation trilogy says that violence is the last refuge of the incompetent. This is a galaxy ruled by mathematicians.
If you're looking for extensive character development, look elsewhere: To write this novel, Kingsbury did not merely imitate Asimov's style but absorbed it, warts and all. This homage to the Foundation universe is more true to the original than the prequels authorized by the Asimov estate or even the Asimov's own sequels.
If you didn't like the Foundation trilogy, look elsewhere: This book is the true inheritor of the Foundation trilogy, though the serial numbers have been filed off. If you haven't read the Foundation trilogy, that's the place to start. Then read Pebble in the Sky.
If you have read a Kingsbury book before and didn't like it, look elsewhere: Somehow, Kingsbury has written a book that is true to his own style and themes while being true to those of the original Foundation.
Psychohistorical Crisis is a novel of ideas in the tradition of classic science fiction, but is itself an extremely modern book that takes an unflinching and sometimes unflattering look at the ideas implicit in the original Foundation. Each work is very much of its time.
I'd love to talk about the themes of Psychohistorical Crisis, but wouldn't it be better for you to read the book for yourself?
Psychohistorical Crisis is the true Second Foundation.
5.0 out of 5 stars Far in the distant future . . .,
This review is from: Psychohistorical Crisis (Hardcover)I am a long time science fiction fan and was very impressed by Psychohistorical Crisis. I believe the author creates an amazingly complex view of future civilization, very detailed with interesting characters and technical innovations. It is a mystery novel also, why was the fam of Eron Osa "executed"?, where is Zurnl? What is the relationship of Lord Hahukum to the Pscholars overall strategy for managing the Galaxy?, will the Smythosians succeed in challenging the Pscholars supremacy? Underlying the dense plot,(I'm much in disagreement with other reviewers here), is the mathematical theme, complicated at times, but logically intact and gives the whole a plausible quality, rare in science fiction. I was amused how astrology plays a role in the plot. I don't remember the Foundation trilogy well, I read it in junior high, but this work stands alone, a virtuoso effort. I plan to reread the Foundation. After reading "Crisis" I quickly got a copy of "Courtship Rite" and find it quite unique and imaginative. "Psychohistorical crisis", a great science ficition novel.
4.0 out of 5 stars A nifty read,
5.0 out of 5 stars Prerequisites,
The main bent of Crisis is an almost natural question of what happens when others outside of the Foundation start to develop their own predictive methods a la psychohistory. Since the predictive abilities of psychohistory lay in the ignorance of the masses of their predicted fate (a Westinghouse effect basically), Kingsbury asks what happens when you have multiple predicting groups working with similar tools in an attempt to be king. Or at the very least, work for their own percieved best interest.
I have very little to complain about with this book, save maybe the mathematical proofs Kingsbury has Eron run through in self discourse. The fams (see above reviews for explanation) were both intriguing and terrifying. Overall a good read for someone who has read the Foundation series several times.
3.0 out of 5 stars way too long,
By A Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent book!,
The "Psychohistorical Crisis", in contrast, was an excellent addition to the Foundation universe. I read an average of a 20 books a year and I have to say I found this to be the best one of the year by far. I highly recommend it. (The only unfortunate aspect of the book is that Kingsbury only has one in the Foundation universe.)
1.0 out of 5 stars Dull and disappointing,
This review is from: Psychohistorical Crisis (Hardcover)Kingsbury attempts a sequel of sorts to Asimov's work, but it's neither "The Moon Goddess and the Son", or "The Foundation Trilogy". Instead, it's Kingsbury's thesis on the details of how psychohistory might work with a thin plot mixed in so he can pretend it's a novel.
The science of psychohistory is a secret closely guarded by the the ruling psychohistorians, so the main characters spend most of the novel attempting to re-create it. This is the excuse the author uses to bury the reader under hundreds of pages of psuedo-technical speculative ramblings about an imaginary science.
Throughout the book Kingsbury emphasizes the importance of "fams", electronic extensions to the brain that increase intelligence which all of the characters wear and use. After a while this becomes hard to swallow, not for technical reasons, but because none of the characters behave terribly intelligently.
One of the subplots is a character who loses his "fam", and must learn to function without it. From the jacket blurb, you might think this was the focus of the book. In fact, it's a minor thread, and it's just an excuse to subject the reader to that character's attempts to relearn psychohistory.
Ultimately, we don't care about either the characters or the plot. The Second Empire never comes across as a tyranny, and it's very hard to understand why any of the characters want to overthrow it.
Kingsbury has a few interesting ideas about information content, entropy, and how the past is just as uncertain as the future, but they would have been better presented in a short speculative article in a SF magazine.
Stay away from this one, even if you're a Kingsbury or Asimov fan.
Most Helpful First | Newest First
Psychohistorical Crisis by Donald Kingsbury (Hardcover - Dec 7 2001)
Used & New from: CDN$ 2.83