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Showing 1-7 of 7 reviews(3 star)show all reviews
on October 30, 2003
Ok - if one were to follow just the books we have had a Prequel to Foundation, then the series itself, and now this Sequel. But all the while, Asimov has been expanding and introducing many externals, principally robots and their story and making it coincide with the Foundation Series.
Again, Asimov has an advantage of writing 30+ years after the publication of the original stories. This has allowed further advances in technology and more time to flesh out the story. We are involved with two men - Golan Trvize, an rebel of sorts who is searching for the mysterious Second Foundation and Stor Gendeibel who is part of the Second Foundation. They are both interested in the ancient planet "Earth" and somewhere along the way they end up on Gaia, that was obviously settled long ago by humans.
Sorry, but the characters in here just do not excite. They are worse that Asimov's usually lackluster rendering and I just can't keep them in mind after the story has concluded. Also, the action toward the end gets confused as if Asimov suddenly had a change of heart or (more likely) he had an idea for a future book and had to incorporate some information here to make it work.
I was expecting something different, something more. Maybe next time.
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on September 2, 2001
After the first few Foundation stories were published (those that ended up collected in the "novels" called Foundation, and Foundation and Empire), Asimov stated that he couldn't write any more stories in the series because with the Seldon Plan in motion, everything was already determined. Importantly, it should be noted that the Plan was not about establishing a Second Empire after the fall of the first, but only reducing the time between those Empires (and therefore, reducing the amount of strife and hardship). To continue the series, Asimov had to create crises to be resolved.
The first crisis was the attack of the Mule, which followed the idea that one powerful man might be able to alter the course of history, or at least disrupt the Plan. This was the equivalent of introducing a Genghis Khan, Alexander, or Napoleon. It's a matter of debate whether they actually altered the course of history (e.g., they don't speak Macedonian in Iran, or Mongolian in Russia), so the Mule's disruption would be one of timing, not the ultimate establishment of the Second Empire. Thus, the series rested for 20 years.
By its nature, technological advances cannot be imagined by more "primitive" scientific societies, and this is the crisis that sets up this novel, Foundation's Edge. Just as our great political philosphers of the 19th century could not have predicted nuclear weapons, Hari Seldon could not predict the technological advance of the First Foundation. Thus, some of the Foundation's leaders decide the time has come to dispense with the Plan, and by extension the Second Foundation. This is an intriguing setup, and like all of Asimov's works, you are quickly drawn into the story and immediately get to know the characters intimately. It centres around an exile - Trevize - sent out by the leader of the 1st Foundation as a "lightning rod" to try to flush out the Second Foundation. Naturally, the Second Foundationers find out and take moves to stop it. Both Foundations are also concerned that the Plan is too precise - is there something/someone else guiding the plan for its own purposes?
Unfortunately, the story doesn't live up to its promise, or rather, the characters and specific situations don't. They just aren't as interesting or likeable as in other books written during the same few years - namely, the final two robot books (Robots and Empire and Robots of Dawn). It even suffers in comparison to Second Foundation, the immediately previous book in the Foundation series (written 20 years earlier). Thus, while interesting, and a must read for Foundation (and Asimov) fans, it's a little disappointing relative to his other works.
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on May 14, 2001
When you write a classic series, leave it alone.
The first three books in this series are the best science fiction books I have read. As opposed to most science fiction books, for example, Asimov talked about advances in psychology, as well as physics. The connection between science and story, moreover, were essential parts of this story, compelling so. Finally, Asimov was willing to take great chances and even attack his invention, pschyo-history.
Enter "Foundation's Edge." This story was centered on people, more then science. Each person, in their own way, was just like the others. That is, each of them had the same basic characteristics, pride, arrogance, and impatience. All of them were hard to love.
Worse, the "resolutions" for all of the original stories were believable. That was one of the things that made that books so interesting. Could there be a psycho-history? How would it work? Each story has a mystery around it which, when solved, seemed to be solved in a believable, almost obvious way which always rang true.
Here there is a mystery. There is a planet and a system that even the Mule avoided. Why? Probably because the Mule was written by a younger Asimov that wouldn't want to go anywhere near this story. Anyway, all three characters here, for different reasons, end up going to this mysterious system.
The way the conflict is resolved is also very disappointing. In the end, the original foundation series was about control and choice. Seldon was trying to push the Galaxy toward a certain result. Individual people's choices weren't supposed to make a great difference. With the mule, and others, that was shown to be a lie. Individuals can make a difference, even in a galaxy of billions and billions.
Here, free choice doesn't seem to matter. This galaxy here, to me, was a worse place and I was unhappy with it as I was unhappy with this book. It is very disappointing and a slap at all the great writing in the original series. Measured on its own, Foundation's Edge would have, maybe, been an okay book. Since it is the younger brother to greatness, it seemed much weaker. Read it if you must, but I warned you.
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on January 2, 2000
If you've already formed an opinion about Isaac Asimov's writing, FOUNDATION'S EDGE isn't likely to change your mind. The book has all of Asimov's earmarks, both good and bad: wooden characters who almost always know exactly how they feel and say exactly what they mean; dialogue-heavy scenes in which the exchanges are drenched with ideas and cerebral analysis but almost devoid of emotion or neurosis; an inventive setting replete with plausible details; and a propulsive, energetic plot that delivers lots of suspense and surprises. I already liked Asimov before I picked up the book, and it certainly didn't disappoint me, but it's not going to convert anybody who only wants to read about nuanced characters making subtle self-discoveries.
Because the plot is one of the book's best features, to say too much about it would spoil the fun for too many readers, so I'll limit myself to one of its most interesting aspects, which is that it attempts to tie together a number of Asimov's works. Without giving too much away, it's fair to say that part of the book's project is to meld the fictional "universes" of the Robot stories, the Empire novels, and THE END OF ETERNITY with that of the FOUNDATION trilogy. Many Asimov fans have derided this decision, claiming that it marks the beginning of his decline as a science fiction writer. For myself, while I can't say that I find the attempt at retrofitting fictional consistency onto highly disparate works to be particularly compelling or convincing, I do find it interesting. Consider that Asimov was an atheist, who argued that in the absence of any persuasive evidence of a Supreme Being (of which he could find none), it was more rational to believe in God's nonexistence than in His existence. Yet for us to credit Asimov's notion of psychohistory, we must posit that certain characteristics are common to all humans. I would contend that the religious or spiritual impulse is such a characteristic, and that as people get older and their desire for comfort, security, and meaning increases, that impulse only gets stronger. I wonder: as Asimov aged, did he channel his own growing spiritual impulse into the project of forcing his fictional creations into an overall rubric, of imposing meaning where none previously existed?
If you're an Asimov fan, FOUNDATION'S EDGE should be required reading. It did, after all, win the Good Doctor the 1983 Hugo award for best novel. On the other hand, if you're new to Asimov, this isn't the place to start. Instead, check out the FOUNDATION trilogy, or the Robot novels (THE CAVES OF STEEL and THE NAKED SUN -- the later ROBOTS OF DAWN and ROBOTS AND EMPIRE were part of Asimov's retrofitting project.) Better yet, read his short stories, collected in two excellent volumes titled THE COMPLETE STORIES I and II. It is those stories which cemented his reputation as a world class sf author, and I would argue that it is that reputation, rather than any particular virtue of this novel, that FOUNDATION'S EDGE's Hugo acknowledges.
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on July 5, 1998
I had no great expectations of this book, seeking fame and fortune from the tremendous success of the trilogy. My expectations were on target. This book was a "good" piece of science fiction but had no real relevance to the timeless classic of the trilogy. If anything, it had a destructive influence on the whole concept of the Hari Seldon visualization. Stick to the trilogy and ignore other books with Foundation in the title. Asimov has many other unconnected titles that are excellent in themselves.
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on February 9, 2001
Finally, it seems that Asimov will bring his seminal Foudation Series to a conclusion. Edge starts out well by building on the other Foundation books. It's good to see a space adventure that seeks out both Earth and the final answers. But it is hard to imagine that Asimov would have taken the Gaia route if he had written this book immediately after he wrote Second Foundation. For that reason, the introduction of this philosophy at this point seems quite disingenuous.
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on August 23, 1999
This book was actually pretty good. Promising beginning and middle. Then out of nowhere comes Gaia (incrediabledumb idead) and in two seconds seldons plan is over. For thos e distraught with the ending read Foundation's Triumph
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