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Friday, August 21, 2015

Review: Foundation and Chaos

Foundation and Chaos is the second book in the post-Asimov Foundation trilogy. I missed it when it came out in 1998, and decided to skip the first novel because it was generally panned by reviewers.

The novel is interesting making references to Asimov's universe that I've long since forgotten, but also drawing the importance of robots, for instance, in the evolution of human kind to the logical conclusion. It's fun and a little bit creaky, but still entertaining.

The protagonist of the trilogy is clearly Hari Seldon, who of course is the prophet/leader depicted in the original Foundation trilogy. As a prequel, the novel grants us relatively little insight into what psycho-history is, what the parameters are, and of course, depends too much on the rise of psycho-history as the brilliant work of one man, while we know that most scientific work usually depends on not just theoreticians and mathematicians, but also experimentalists. Yet the rise of psycho-history (as depicted in these novels) appears to depend entirely upon mathematics without any empirical evidence, which seems really far-fetched, to say the least. I raise this as a criticism because the authors of this second trilogy are all writers with real scientific credentials, as Asimov was.

In any case, the plot revolves around the rise of telepaths (called mentallics in the novel) who can influence other people or even groups of humans. Readers of the original series would know that this plays a critical part in the second foundation. It's an interesting romp, but ultimately fails to compare to the scope and grandeur of the originals.

Nevertheless, it made me want to go back and read the original series again, which can't be a bad thing.

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