Review: Second Foundation

Second Foundation Book Cover
Second Foundation Foundation, Book 3 Science Fiction HarperCollins Audiobook 9h 7m Audible

Winner of the Hugo Award for Best All-Time Series. The Foundation series is Isaac Asimov’s iconic masterpiece. Unfolding against the backdrop of a crumbling Galactic Empire, the story of Hari Seldon’s two Foundations is a lasting testament to an extraordinary imagination, one whose unprecedented scale shaped science fiction as we know it today. The First Foundation has been defeated, crushed by the formidable mental powers of the Mule. But whispers of the mysterious Second Foundation, the only hope of defeating the Mule, are beginning to spread … Surviving members of the First Foundation also fear the secret powers of the Second Foundation, vowing to find and destroy it. However, the location of the Second Foundation remains shrouded in mystery. Finding it will lead the Foundation to the opposite end of the Galaxy, where the fate of Seldon’s two Foundations awaits.

This is the conclusion of the trilogy. You can read my reviews of Foundation and Foundation & Empire if you want my thoughts on the other books in the series.

I found this book a little harder to listen to. It contained more hard science than the preceding volumes which I felt punctuated the flow. It was insightful and necessary to explain the genius of the theory of psychohistory (the new and effective mathematical sociology) which forms the basis of the arc through the three books so that we fully appreciate the subtlety of how the Second Foundation and Hari Seldon’s plan were intricately constructed.

I don’t have issues with hard science per se, but it felt a little like ego vs storytelling and some of it may have been better interwoven into the story. It felt like a little too much exposition was being fed to us in places. However, it fitted Asimov’s style and structure of the books with references to Encyclopedia Galactica.

This book was more a single story throughout rather than a series of interconnected shorter tales with time jumps between each as the first two books are. The overall trilogy spans hundreds of years which necessitated choosing key events across the time period which are linked. It’s elegantly woven together and a compelling read and does give you time to soak in the brilliance of psychohistory and how it could potentially be applied in the modern world of today. The storytelling works because you are wondering how things are set up, and then Asimov reveals them at the appropriate point. He draws you into the tale elegantly and pulls you along with his thread until he’s ready to pull back the curtain and show you what’s really going on.

As science fiction is one of my preferred genres and having been disappointed with other Sci-Fi classics in the past (Dune & Gateway) I put off listening to this trilogy. However, Foundation was an excellent and easy read and laid the foundation (excuse the pun) for an epic work.

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By Edward

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    About me

    About 40 years ago, I discovered role-playing and Dungeons and Dragons in one of the after school clubs. It revealed a universe that allowed me to flex my storytelling muscles and enjoy a mixture of fantasy and sci-fi and feed the escapist dreamer inside.

    Over time, I played (and story-led - marked with *) many systems including Call of Cthulhu*, Shadowrun, Dungeons & Dragons*, Middle Earth, In Nomine*, Bushido, Chivalry & Sorcery, Chill, Warhammer, Warhammer 40k, Gammaworld, Hawkmoon, Stormbringer, Immortals*, Marvel Super Heroes, Paranoia, RuneQuest, Vampire: The Masquerade*, and a couple of systems my own devising (Medieval* and Parody*).

    I explored live-action role-playing – eventually running my own club and creating my own LARP systems (Fools Gold and Dream Conquest) – and usually found myself in script-writing or game-master duty, writing over 500 individual live adventures over the period (usually weekly), many linked into the world events of the fantasy land we created. I also volunteered for Curious Pastimes and Lorien Trust at their main LARP events (special effects at the Ritual Circle), and did a little script work, cameos and improv for Curious Pastimes. I was also the South East's Editor (UK) for the LARP magazine The Adventurer. The biggest event I ran was a 10-month modern-day "murder mystery" LARP set around parts of Kent where characters were "always-on" and could get updates and interactions at any time outside of scheduled events. That was in the 1990s.

    I was also the artistic director for English Heritage for their live Halloween Horrors events at Fort Amherst in Kent from 1998-1999.

    Now, I write as the mood takes me with occasional competitions and challenges, and this year (2020) I will be taking on #NaNoWriMo.

    Here's to the future!