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Second Foundation
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Showing 1-10 of 14 reviews(2 star). See all 375 reviews
on August 20, 2001
"Foundation" is considered by many SF devotees to be one of the greatest creations of the genre. It won the Hugo award to prove it, spawned many sequels, and even a couple of prequels. I was excited to read this book, expecting it to live up to its many accolades.
Boy, was I disappointed!
The basic idea of this novel is fascinating: Hari Seldon foresees the demise of the galactic empire using the science of psychohistory. He puts a plan into motion to lessen the catastrophic effect of this collapse. Will it work?
This is a good concept to work from, and I liked the plot. It's classic SF.
What I did not like was the writing.
Asimov relies too heavily on dialogue. It reads like a play. The only narration present serves as "stage direction" to indicate that someone moves, or smokes, or exits, or whatever. I was not able to imagine most of what was going on, as Asimov never adequately sets the scene for us. People simply talk back and forth. Everyone talks excatly alike, and none of the dialogue sounds natural. With little attributions (he said, she said, etc.), it's often hard to tell just who is talking, anyway. It's an extremely frustrating experience as a reader.
The other problem with "Foundation" (perhaps, its central problem) is that it tries to cover too much in too short a period of time. This is unfortunate, because, again, the premise is so good. A story like this must cover a great period of time to achieve its goals, of course. We have to find out if Hari Seldon was on the right track. Asimov introduces a host of charcters, but none of them stick around. Consequently, there's no one in the entire book that you know or care about. This is a major failing. A great SF novel cannot be just a clever idea. The great books of the genre have great characters who help us to understand and appreciate the clever idea. Look at "Rendezvous with Rama", "Ender's Game", "Stranger in a Strange Land", "Dune", or "Brave New World". Each of these features great ideas and great characters.
If this book were fleshed out a bit more with better descriptions and deeper characters who were actually given time to develop, I would like it much more. As it stands, it feels too thin -- it's the kernel of something really great.
I recommend this only to die-hard SF fans who are getting back to the genre's roots, or those who value ideas over writing quality.
I believe you must have both to be a true classic.
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on July 18, 1997
I became enthralled by Issac Asimov through a collection of his short stories. In just a few pages he presented and explored a brain-boggling idea. But in this longer work and two others in the Foundation series (Foundation and Empire and Prelude to Foundation) I admit considerable disappointment. There are some good ideas but they're lost in a sea of shallow characters and needless ramblings. I won't give up on the author because when he hits he really hits. But I'm through with the Foundation series
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on November 16, 2002
I can't for the life of me understand why Foundation is considered a science fiction classic. The characters are extremely one dimensional which would be forgiveable if this book was set in the midst of a thought provoking scientific discovery or invention. The majority of this book deals with intergallactic politics, that's right intergallactic politics. I think most science fiction readers find real life politics boring enough, setting them in the future doesn't help.
The one intriguing nugget in this story was the idea of psychohistory: the ability to predict future events using mob psychology. However, this wasn't expounded on at all.
I know that truly inspired science fiction can put character development on a backshelf while introducing fantastic settings and ideas: Rendevzous with Rama by Arthur C. Clark. However, the characters in this story are merely names on a piece of paper and the scientific wonder is nonexistent. Isaac Asimov truly was ahead of his time but I think his robot series was a much better read.
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on August 13, 2002
Just writing this to provide moral support for anyone who reads this book and is thoroughly underwhelmed.
Asimov's prose is clean but his tone seems uneven in this installment, as opposed to the tighter first book.
The book is essentially two disconnected adventures... not very appealing.
There's a female character in the second adventure that's quite problematic; she's dull, and Asimov spends a lot of time and effort on the fact that she's (gasp) not male.
Finally, this series feels very dated, in terms of language, attitudes, and even vision of the future. "Nuclear" is the buzzword; everything's like the '50s, but nuclear-powered.
I liked Foundation but Foundation & Empire tends to wander away from the idea of the Foundation as the main character, and instead can't seem to decide whether to focus on galactic-level events or protagonists. This would be excusable if the protagonists were interesting.
Go read Jack Vance or Gene Wolfe if you want masterful sci-fi!
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on December 27, 2000
I respect Asimov as a writer of science fiction. However after reading all of the Foundation series I wish it had more humanity in it. The book was overly complex. The characters did nothing for me. The Foundation series is over rated in my humble opinion. It falls in the category that I call dry sci-fi. Asimov's Robot series was better than this.
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on May 10, 2003
The book starts with an enticing psychohistory idea, but then it dives deep into politics. It is quite interesting to read the ingenious solutions for the crises taken by the great leaders of the Foundation, specially for resigning war whenever it seemed the most sensible way out.
The problem is that this book is supposed to be science fiction, yet the story seemed to have happened back in the mercantilism period in the XVII century, with its priests, kings, viceroys and merchant ships trading raw materials for manufactured goods. The gadgets used by the traders to fool the other empires are a bit silly as well, for a far future based science fiction.
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on April 29, 2002
When I was in junior high school, Asimov's Foundation Trilogy was my favorite science fiction. Recently, I picked it back up, and have had to revise my opinion somewhat.
First, in terms of character and plot development, Asimov certainly hadn't hit his stride when he wrote these books. The characters are cardboard cutouts--especially the female characters.
More importantly, Asimov uses the basic idea behind the series...that Hari Seldon created his "psychohistory plan" and launched it, invisibly determining the future of his Foundations for a kind of magic box from which he pulls plot developments. This drains the story of dramatic tension. One knows from the get-go that it'll all work out in the wash. (In the second half of "Foundation and Empire" and "Second Foundation", Asimov had found a way out of this problem, by introducing a wild card in the deck.)
Finally, the book hasn't aged well. The technology forseen for his far-future galactic civilization seems positively "retro". Normally, this wouldn't be a problem...Orwell's 1984 is still an effective piece of fiction, even though it's 2002, and the world is far different from the world Orwell envisioned...but the Foundation books' other flaws just seem to make this worse.
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The first time I tried to read Foundation, I was six years old, and it was simply too complex for my developing mind. Just a few months ago, however, I was cleaning out my attic and came across the same old book. To ascertain it's actual nature as interpreted by the adult mind, I read it again. I was amazed not only by the sheer brillance and ingenuity of the ideas contained within it, not only by the grandiose size of the subject matter, but mostly by the writing, which I regarded as absolutely horrid. The plot is clunky, the conversations roll off the tongue like sandpaper covered in peanut butter, and the descriptions could have been written better by some obscure species of mosquito. As a book, it could be improved by changing the title from "Foundation" to "How Not to Write a Book" or "Please Steal These Ideas and Rewrite Them in English." I highly reccomend it to people for use as a very expensive and ineffective paperweight.
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on April 9, 2002
i can't beleive for the reviews i read here - some guy say "i didn't like the story" and give the book 5 stars - why ? because it's asimov !.
but beleive me, asimov wasn't a very bright writer. he had some cute books, and some interesting ideas (robots for instance), but was more like a juvenile SF book writer.
this book is one of is last, and hance is pretty bad.
this book suppose to tell you what and where was the second foundation all about(reffer to previews books in series), but of course it doesn't !.
i didn't even understand what was the diffrence between the "mule" and the second foundation, since they used same technics and had similar goals.
anyway, the second foundation doesn;t sound very good to me - a group of elite people, that has mental control over other people, and has the right to control history - too much risky !, sound like marks and eggels - this ideas maybee apeel to the teenagers, but loose their charm, when it comes for more muture readers.
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on April 3, 1998
I was dissatisfied with this novel. Being an avid fan of Asimov and the Foundation series,the younger version of the mathimatical genius did not match with older one who changed the history of his race for the better; nor did I think that the story with female very appealing, again it did not match. The story seemed tacked on to the series just to write another novel. It is unfortunate that the writer who invented the positronic brain,the three law of robotics, and of course the genuis of the foundation series wrote such a tacked on story.
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