“Second Foundation” by Isaac Asimov

Over the past couple months I’ve been participating in a groupread of Isaac Asimov’s Foundation Trilogy with a group of other bloggers.  As we finish each book, I like to take the time to post a regular spoiler-free review for anyone who hasn’t been following along with the discussions.

“Second Foundation” is the third book in theFoundation Trilogy, even though the title might suggest otherwise.  In the first two books, we saw the psychohistorian Hari Seldon predict the fall of the Galactic Empire.  In order to prevent the galaxy from falling into a 30,000 year dark age, he devises a plan to establish a Second Galactic Empire in only a thousand years.  Seldon recruits the brightest scientific minds in the galaxy and establishes two Foundations, one on each end of the galaxy…

Up until this point in the story, the Second Foundation was largely unknown.  Many people from the Foundation didn’t even believe in its existence.  However, now that the Foundation has been conquered by a mutant called the Mule, the Second Foundation provides a last-ditch hope in the realization of Seldon’s plan.   This then begs the question–where exactly is the Second Foundation, and is it strong enough to oppose a mutant who is able to exercise mind control against his opponents?

Most trilogies start out with a strong book and then tend to wither out.  Asimov’s Foundation Trilogy is the opposite, with a story that gets better and better with each installment.

One of the greatest strengths of the story lies in the moral ambiguity of the characters–we support the Foundation because Asimov tells us to, while at the same time we question the methods by which the protagonists gain power and fight oppression.  The fact that our characters are neither good nor evil adds a level of complexity to the scheming and manipulations of the guardians of Seldon’s plan.

I was also impressed that Asimov wrote such strong female characters in “Second Foundation.”  He was ahead of his time when crafting characters such as Arkady and Lady Callia, to the point that I was surprised by the roles that each of them played within the story.

Overall, I’d highly recommend the Foundation Trilogy to anyone interested in reading some excellent classic science fiction.

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As the Foundation Trilogy won a Hugo Award in 1966 as the Best All-Time Series, I will be including this book in the Award Winning Books Reading Challenge hosted by Gathering Books.  It also counts toward the Speculative Fiction Challenge hosted by Baffled Books.

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Categories: Sci Fi | Tags: , , , , | 9 Comments

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9 thoughts on ““Second Foundation” by Isaac Asimov

  1. Hi Grace! Your post won the monthly prize for the AWB Reading Challenge ths March! Congratulations. Please email me your details so we can send your chosen book out to you: gatheringbooks (at) yahoo (dot) com

  2. Pingback: List of Circus, Carnivale, Paranormal Themed Books for All Ages «

  3. Moral ambiguity…that’s perfect.

    • Thanks! By the end of the book I was torn between wanting to see whether Seldon’s plan would work and wanting very much for the Second Foundationers to fail. I haven’t read many books like that.

  4. Hi Grace, I’m glad to see that you enjoyed the reading group and the trilogy. I still have my reservations about reading something this THICK! Hahaha. I am still crossing my fingers that I get through Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell and the Gormenghast Trilogy – perhaps once I’m done with those books, I’d consider conquering this one. 🙂

    • I think that one of the most interesting things about this trilogy is that it’s written episodically. It’s almost like each book contains a few short stories that are all part of the larger whole.

      I never finished Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, lol. The writing was good, but I kept waiting for several hundred pages for something to happen and nothing really did. It reminded me a bit of what it would be like if Jane Austen decided to write fantasy… 😀

  5. I really need to get back to this trilogy. I got halfway through the second book and then sort of stalled. I am bad at read-alongs…

    • Lol… it gets so much better as it goes! I’ve been surprisingly good with this book, but during the last one I got a bit behind a few times. 😛

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