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Foundation's Edge Paperback – November 17, 2020
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Praise for the Foundation series
|Foundation (Book 1)||Foundation and Empire (Book 2)||Second Foundation (Book 3)||Foundation and Earth (Book 5)||Prelude to Foundation (Foundation Prequel 1)||Forward the Foundation (Foundation Prequel 2)|
|Experience the complete genre-defining Foundation series.||The story of our future begins with the Foundation. Nominated as one of America’s best-loved novels by PBS’s The Great American Read.||The second novel in Isaac Asimov’s classic science-fiction masterpiece, the Foundation series.||The third novel in Isaac Asimov’s classic science-fiction masterpiece, the Foundation series.||The fifth novel in Isaac Asimov’s classic science-fiction masterpiece, the Foundation series.||The first of two prequel novels in Isaac Asimov’s classic science-fiction masterpiece.||The second of two prequel novels in Isaac Asimov’s classic science-fiction masterpiece.|
About the Author
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
The First Galactic Empire was falling. It had been decaying and breaking down for centuries and only one man fully realized that fact.
He was Han Seldon, the last great scientist of the First Empire, and it was he who perfected psychohistory-the science of human behavior reduced to mathematical equations.
The individual human being is unpredictable, but the reactions of human mobs, Seldon found, could be treated statistically. The larger the mob, the greater the accuracy that could be achieved. And the size of the human masses that Seldon worked with was no less than the population of all the inhabited millions of worlds of the Galaxy.
Seldon's equations told him that, left to itself, the Empire would fall and that thirty thousand years of human misery and agony would elapse before a Second Empire would arise from the ruins. And yet, if one could adjust some of the conditions that existed, that Interregnum could be decreased to a single millennium-just one thousand years.
It was to insure this that Seldon set up two colonies of scientists that he called "Foundations." With deliberate intention, he set them up "at opposite ends of the Galaxy." The First Foundation, which centered on physical science, was set up in the full daylight of publicity. The existence of the other, the Second Foundation, a world of psychohistorical and "mentalic" scientists, was drowned in silence.
In The Foundation Trilogy, the story of the first four centuries of the Interregnum is told. The First Foundation (commonly known as simply "The Foundation," since the existence of another was unknown to almost all) began as a small community lost in the emptiness of the Outer Periphery of the Galaxy. Periodically it faced a crisis in which the variables of human intercourse-and of the social and economic currents of the time-constricted about it. Its freedom to move lay along only one certain line and when it moved in that direction, a new horizon of development opened before it. All had been planned by Han Seldon, long dead now.
The First Foundation, with its superior science, took over the barbarized planets that surrounded it. It faced the anarchic warlords who broke away from the dying Empire and beat them. It faced the remnant of the Empire itself under its last strong Emperor and its last strong general-and beat it.
It seemed as though the "Seldon Plan" was going through smoothly and that nothing would prevent the Second Empire from being established on timeand with a minimum of intermediate devastation..
But psychohistory is a statistical science. Always there is a small chance that something will go wrong, and something did-something which Han Seldon could not have foreseen. One man, called the Mule, appeared from nowhere. He had mental powers in a Galaxy that lacked them. He could mold men's emotions and shape their minds so that his bitterest opponents were made into his devoted servants. Armies could not, would not, fight him. The First Foundation fell and Seldon's Plan seemed to lie in ruins.
There was left the mysterious Second Foundation, which had been caught unprepared by the sudden appearance of the Mule, but which was now slowly working out a counterattack. Its great defense was the fact of its unknown location. The Mule sought it in order to make his conquest of the Galaxy complete. The faithful of what was left of the First Foundation sought it to obtain help.
Neither found it. The Mule was stopped first by the action of a woman, Bayta Darell, and that bought enough time for the Second Foundation to organize the proper action and, with that, to stop the Mule permanently. Slowly they prepared to reinstate the Seldon Plan.
But, in a way, the cover of the Second Foundation was gone. The First Foundation knew of the Second's existence, and the First did not want a future in which they were overseen by the mentalists. The First Foundation was the superior in physical force, while the Second Foundation was hampered not only by that fact, but by being faced by a double task: it had not only to stop the First Foundation but had also to regain its anonymity.
This the Second Foundation, under its greatest "First Speaker," Preem Palver, managed to do. The First Foundation was allowed to seem to win, to seem to defeat the Second Foundation, and it moved on to greater and greater strength in the Galaxy, totally ignorant that the Second Foundation still existed.
It is now four hundred and ninety-eight years after the First Foundation had come into existence. It is at the peak of its strength, but one man does not accept appearances--
- Publisher : Del Rey; Reprint edition (November 17, 2020)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 416 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0593159985
- ISBN-13 : 978-0593159989
- Reading age : 14 - 18 years
- Item Weight : 9.8 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.45 x 0.84 x 8.23 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #44,396 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from the United States
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I'm torn on how to rate this book. It isn't like the first three in writing (not least in losing the header references to the Encyclopedia Galactica), which are very terse (Foundation having been serialized) in the fashion of mid-century sci-fi: this is more like modern science fiction, with more of a focus on characters and so on instead of plot, technology, and twist.
The first two novels are relatively harder science fiction. Second Foundation, with the introduction of mentalics, veers to the soft. I enjoy Seveneves as much as Star Trek, but the change in tone is jarring. This book continues the shift begun in Second Foundation.
It's well-written and gripping for the first two-thirds, but I found the conclusion entirely unsatisfactory. It has something of the Deus ex about it, even though it is nigh as thoroughly hinted as Chekhov's gun.
I have been rooting for the Second Foundation for the entire series, ever since I learned it existed. It fits my bookish and mathematical temperament. In the end of this book, the future under the Second Foundation is described as a 'future from calculation, ruled by calculation, a living death'. It sounds like my kind of future. Even the first Foundation, with its machiavellianism, is tolerable: it is just realpolitik. It is described as 'a rebirth of the first Galactic Empire, born in strife and dying in strife': but it is the first Empire born again.
Instead we are introduced to Gaia, the Mule's home planet, inhabited by a race of Mules comprising a hive mind - including the natural environment, in a sort of Earth/Animal Liberation Front dream - ruled by the hidden hand of remnant robots left over from the first colonization of the galaxy. I can see why the Mule tried so hard to escape it and its influence after a few pages of description, and almost sympathize with his actions now. (By the way, the description of Gaia in this book doesn't fit at all with what the Mule himself tells about his history, so either the Mule was lying or Gaia is: I think it is likely the latter, Gaia is so creepy.)
It gives me strong hints of being a sort of Rousseauvian 'natural' 'paradise' where 'if it feels good, do it' and 'anything goes' and there's no real logic or reason not provided by the robot overlords, but merely a 'good vibing' with everything and anything (aka Hell) - a reflection of our degenerate ethics of late modernity, the inversion of high and low culture, body and social body - as opposed to the appealing ascetic, scholarly self-control of Second Foundationers and their ethic.
I digress: in the climax, Gaia and both Foundations are brought to a three-way Mexican standoff, and Trevize (one of the main characters) is, through a bit of Deus ex magic, forced to choose between the three alternate visions for the future: the First Foundation's realpolitik, high technology, and militarism, the Second Foundation's monastic, ascetic scholarship and hidden-hand paternalism, and extending the hive mind of Gaia's 'good vibes' throughout the galaxy to form 'Galaxia'. The decision is entirely predictable as soon as the standoff commences, robbing it of drama and narrative force.
Trevize chooses Gaia and Galaxia, both concepts of which are emotionally repulsive to me, especially as contrasted with the adamantine beauty of the Second Foundation. If you are not innately repulsed by the Gaian good-vibes, uninhibited, state-of-nature 'paradise', you'll probably find the ending - and the book - much more to your liking. I'm of the hard Right with libertarian tendencies (like Hans-Hermann Hoppe, but further Right), and Gaianism seems to be the culmination of the collectivist Left's ideals - both the old Marxist Left and the post-70s postmaterial New Left's combined. I'm also very religious, but the scientific materialism of the first trilogy didn't put me off at all, so I don't think it plays a role in my rating here.
This choice of the Gaian vision for the future is why the ending is crushingly unsatisfying to me. They're not antiheroes, or evil-is-a-matter-of-perspective types: they are definitely Asimov's good guys, but I find their vision, vibing, and robot paternalism repulsive. I don't often have emotional reactions to fiction books, but boy, did I to this one's conclusion.
The two Foundations' memories of Gaia are wiped, and the First Foundation's suspicions of the survival of the Second are allayed. Both Foundations believe they've won a victory.
However, Trevize finds out that Gaia (or some other actor) is hiding the existence of Earth - the origin planet - from him, and reveals that he chose the Gaian vision because he was 'temporizing' and believed it could be reversed (though he says he doesn't think it likely he made the wrong decision), whereas the other options would immediately have given either the First or Second Foundations complete hegemony. It is only in this hope that the Gaia/Galaxia plan comes to naught that I read the next book in the series.
I hope it comes to naught to redeem the series, for as-is, it has been like listening to a Wagner opera with a hideous screech at the end of the record, which taints the enjoyment of what came before.
Asimov continues the technological advances with the 1st Foundation gaining control of gravitics and superfast space travel such that it remains an open question as to whom is more powerful, the 1st Foundation's technology versus the 2nd Foundation evolving mind control. Each of these alternatives presents an interesting vision for the galaxy's future. At the same time, he also introduces the concept of Gaia that is a hybrid of a hive mind with community level symbiosis that extends not only to all living matter, but to inanimate material as well, basically the whole planet. While a choice is made, it represents more the safe, hedged bet, rather than a clear right choice.
I’m afraid I prefer Donald Kingsbury’s development of psychohistory to Asimov’s.
I’ll go a bit further. I lost a lot of interest in the idea when he gifted the mathematicians of the Second Foundation with Mule-like emotional control abilities, long before this book.
Top reviews from other countries
If you are familiar with and like the foundation series this book will not disappoint.
Azimov has the courage to break with the formula here and the story branches out into wholly new territory.
The content, context and dialog are very convincing and the delivery is Azimov at his most human, and best.
He has the ability to put over very complex and serious ideas in a totally straighforward way and never indulges in
technical wizardry for its own sake, simply using technical ideas to explain the purpose of the plot.
Very few SF books illustrate a possible milestone in social and polital psychology in such an entirely vivid and readable way.
Better if you've read the foundation series beforehand but the essential background is given here and the book stands up perfectly well on its own. Any detailed description of the story would detract from the reading experience but get through the first chapter or two and you'll find it hard to put down until it's inspirational ending.