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on June 15, 2002
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.
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