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Foundation's Edge (Foundation Novels) Mass Market Paperback – October 1, 1991
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`Isaac Asimov was one of the great explainers of the age...It will never be known how many practicing scientists today, in how many countries, owe their initial inspiration to a book, article, or short story by Isaac Asimov'Carl Sagan `Asimov displayed one of the most dynamic imaginations in science fiction'Daily Telegraph `Asimov's career was one of the most formidable in science fiction'The Times --This text refers to the Audio Cassette edition.
From the Publisher
At last, the costly and bitter war between the two Foundations had come to an end. The scientists of the First Foundation had proved victorious; and now they return to Hari Seldon's long-established plan to build a new Empire that the Second Foundation is not destroyed after all-and that its still-defiant survivors are preparing their revenge. Now the two exiled citizens of the Foundation-a renegade Councilman and the doddering historian-set out in search of the mythical planet Earth. . .and proof that the Second Foundation still exists. Meanwhile someone-or something-outside of both Foundations sees to be orchestrating events to suit its own ominous purpose. Soon representatives of both the First and Second Foundations will find themselves racing toward a mysterious world called Gaia and a final shocking destiny at the very end of the universe!
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Alas, when the mysterious third power, Gaia, is found, things go rapidly downhill. At this point, the plot devolves into an extensive description of a planet that has become a single conscious entity, with every person and object joined via telepathy. To provide some relief from this endless discussion, one 23-year-old, organically human, female portion of Gaia, named Bliss, becomes romantically, sexually, and unbelievably involved with Pelorat, a well-aged, naive Earth-lore scholar. Neither of these developments sustains the drama and excitement of the first part of the book, and the explorations of the psychological and philosophical aspects of Gaia seem interminable.
I consider this book marginally successful as an extension of the original trilogy. Overall, it's a moderately good SciFi read. However, from my own perspective, I would limit the Foundation Series to the two prequels ( Prelude to Foundation (Foundation, Book 1) and Forward the Foundation ) plus the original trilogy ( The Foundation Trilogy ). If forced to choose only three books, I'd stick with the original trilogy, which rank among the very best science fiction novels.
*** SPOILER WARNING ***
The least appealing feature of "Foundation's Edge" is the character of I/we/Gaia itself. Gaia is a very strange mix of power/helplessness and competence/incompetence that results from an extension or the Laws of Robotics and robots' telepathic abilities into the realm of "human" life. The resulting entity can use mental power to manipulate the physical universe, but at the same time is unable to decide whether it is the proper future for all of humanity. In this connection, the mighty Gaia relies on a single human being, Golan Trevize, who (supposedly) has the uncanny ability to make right decisions on the basis of inadequate information. Until the time setting of this book, Gaia has secretly reinforced the Seldon Plan, making the plan proceed more smoothly than could be expected. From the time of this story into the future, the Seldon Plan becomes a meaningless shell. The First Foundation and the Second Foundation are deluded into thinking that each is exclusively guiding humanity, while in the background, Gaia (with occasional help from Trevize) will be building the true future.
I had heard of the Foundation Trilogy, so that's what I read first. Oh, but there are also 2 prequel books to the Trilogy, and 2 sequel books as well.
That said, the writing is quite good in character and plot development, as well as exploring issues around the nature of human beings, human and machine intelligence, and a BIG PICTURE!
It is just the best of the originals..
I am always amazed how items writen about as science fiction decades ago have come true and others that may yet be possible. I first started reading Asimov in 6th grade mid 1980s, I have re-read his works again and again. Each time new things are now possible that he wrote about, that were not before. Also an involving story that makes you wonder, question and think.
The Foundation Trilogy was great and I have read all three many times and enjoyed each on the fifteenth reading as much as on the first. Asimov is not a grand master for nothing. But Foundation's Edge is so far above the first three on every level: especially characterization and plot development not to mention the fabulous ending. After Foundation's Edge and Robots of Dawn Asimov went on to write another Robot novel and three more Foundation novels but they were rather disappointing. They were formulaic. I suppose every author that writes a series uses a formula but it doesn't do to let the bones of the formula show through. In the fourth Robot novel and the three final Foundation novels the protagonist(s) travel to this place then that place then another place then a final place and the endings (except for Robots and Empire) don't justify the time we've spent traveling from place to place. The creativity is gone. Which makes Foundation's Edge all the more glorious. I can't recommend this book highly enough.