I’ve decided to read The Foundation Series by Isaac Asimov, as per recommendation of David, and I’m going to make a few observations and sometimes summaries, each of the seven books. Also I’ll be reading the books, not in the order they were published, but in the chronological sequence. There will also be MASSIVE SPOILERS through out!
Once more for good measure: MASSIVE SPOILERS
The second of the prequels and the most recently published book in the series, this one finishes up the direct following of Hari Seldon. After reading it I took a look at the Wiki entry and learned that it was rumored (and eventually virtually certain) that Hari Seldon, in these first two books, was the literary equivalent of Asimov himself. Many of his views on life and his own work are reflected through Hari. And this actually fits quite well with how I imagine Asimov, a humble yet amazing scientist who gave his all to his work and believed he was making a difference. Or rather, hoped he was.
This book jumps around chronologically much more than the previous one, sometimes decades between the chapters. This was obviously necessary or Asimov would’ve needed another series just for Hari. To which I would not have been opposed.
As I expected the Seldon Plan was put into motion to the extent that Hari was able to. What I found most interesting was how this book humanized the character. He was increasingly aware of his age and its effect on his body. From the begining when he barely kicks a security guards ass, to his eventual confinement to a wheelchair. I imagine that if read in the order they were published, humanising Hari was one of the express purposes of these first two books.
One part of Forward The Foundation that struck me was the apparent complete lack of mention that Dors was a robot, at least until Tamwile Elar gets involved. But the way that her and Harri seem to speak freely about every other subject was a bit unsettling. Sort of like a secret they both knew, but refused to acknowledge. It made me wonder if there is a chance that she altered his mind to keep him focused on Psychohistory rather than her robotic origins.
As Hari grows older, seemingly everyone he loves or even knows, dies off. With the exception of his granddaughter who he eventually has to send off to begin the Second Foundation. The book doesn’t go into detail about his plans for either foundation, which no doubt would spoil the following books, but I was hoping for a bit more information. The mental powers that the Second Foundation will no doubt cultivate are quite exciting however!
The ending is a bit of an easy exhale rather than a large finale. Which to me seemed to summarize death as many of us might face it. “Not with a bang, but with a whimper.” Although the epilogue does reveal Seldons last words to be his wife’s name, the reader is left to choose between the possibility that she was somehow repaired and alive, or if she was nearly Harri’s dying thought.
I would not be surprised if each book in the series, while being self contained, allows for a certain feeling of “what really happened” after each conclusion. The grand-facts wouldn’t change much, as Psychohistory predicts, but the individuals and their stories have details that are left intentionally mysterious. Details with which the readers emotions are tied to, but ones that have no real impact on the over all story.
As I understand it, the next two books are written in a very different format. That is to say, they were written as independent stories, loosely tied to the idea of a Foundation. However, forward!