Tuesday, December 29, 2015
Up for seconds?
Isaac Asimov's Second Foundation, the third book in the original Foundation Trilogy (and now book five of the series after Dr. Asimov later added two prequels and two sequels to the original trilogy), is a smart, entertaining little read, nicely concluding some of the business from the previous book and starting up some new, intriguing plot lines.
The final confrontation with the villainous mutant known as the Mule is the main thing that is continued from Foundation and Empire, and new attention to the mysterious Second Foundation is the central new piece of business on hand. It all works well, though two things make this my third favorite book of the original trilogy: 1) the main heroine is a cute little girl, which- while not terrible- is a little too, well, cute, for my tastes, and 2) the book introduces the idea of the Foundation scientists and leaders feeling threatened by the existence of the mysterious Second Foundation and wanting to find it and destroy it.
I especially have a problem with that last point. The Second Foundation was established by the great Hari Seldon, revered by the men and women of the original Foundation, as a fail safe if the First Foundation ever got in trouble in its mission to reinvigorate civilization during the galaxy's ongoing dark times. Why should the First Foundation be jealous and scared of it, and threatened by its existence? There are some reasons put forth, but I found them less than compelling.
Still, it's a good book, and a satisfying conclusion and continuation of Asimov's story. I added "continuation" there because Dr. Asimov seemed to know even then, before there were any concrete plans for more Foundation stories, that one day he might return to the world of the Foundation, as not every little thing is developed or resolved here, despite it being book three of the original trilogy. For more developments and a dash of closure (but, alas, only a dash) you need to move onto the first sequel of the classic trilogy, Foundation's Edge. But more on that one later!