Foundation and Empire

by Isaac Asimov

  General / Favorable Reviews
  Critical Reviews
  Foundation Onward! *****

As in Foundation, this is actually not a single story. Here are presented two separate episodes in the development of the Foundation toward the establishment of the Second Galactic Empire.

The first details the encounter between the growing Foundation and the still-very-powerful Empire. At the forefront is an Imperial General of outstanding ability and charisma. Unfortunately, Hari Seldon, the architect of the Foundation, predicted all this with his psychohistorical calculations. While the general is very successful in his opposition to the Foundation, his very nature ensures his downfall.

The second story is quite ingenious, in that the single large failing of Seldon's psychohistory is brought to light. An individual beyond the predictive nature of psychohistory has appeared and done the impossible. While there is a type of mystery presented, Asimov either wanted the reader to know the answer before the characters, or he didn't try very hard to obscure the nature of things. But this is a crucial moment in the Foundation's development, as they seem to be vulnerable after all. This story depends heavily on a plot element present in all the Robot-Empire- and now Foundation Series: psionic abilities. Clearly this was a favorite concept for Asimov, and he never seems to abuse it; that is, it never seems there for its own sake but always represents a fundamental encounter when it appears, and you can bet there are severe ramifications.

While I have noted a few complaints about the second of these two stories, this book is still very well written, with action and suspense as good as any I've read. Asimov did such a wonderful job crafting this future history that I can only applaud having had the pleasure to read it. If you like S-F, you will love this whole series, chosen as the Best Series Ever Hugo winner. Need I say more?

-G. Swift "97jedi"




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