Isaac Asimov – Foundation’s Edge (1982) Review


In the 1940s, Isaac Asimov wrote his famous Foundation trilogy and promptly forgot all about it. In the next few decades while he was writing non-fiction, fans pestered him endlessly to write a sequel, but uncle Isaac never listened. Only 28 years later, when a publisher offered him a pile of money, did Asimov lean out the window and yell: “ALRIGHT! FINE!”, took his pipe out of his mouth, which also has been lodged there for 28 years, began to type furiously and wrote Foundation’s Edge. Which then won all the awards and became a bestseller.

It must have went something like that.

We are now 500 years into the expansion of the Foundation sinds Hari Seldon founded it. By now it is common knowledge that a Second Foundation existed, which saved the galaxy from the Mule and then disappeared. Councilman Trevise doesn’t believe it for a second. He thinks the Second Foundation is still pulling the strings behind the scenes. Unfortunately, saying so is now a thought-crime and he’s arrested right away. But even the major of Terminus fears that Trevise has a point and the councilman is sent on a secret mission to find out the truth.

The 28 year gap in the series wrought some pleasant changes compared to the old trilogy. Asimov’s writing style got smoother over the years. He also updated his world with modern technology such as computers, and we follow Trevise through the entire novel as a main character. A full novel then, instead of short stories, and an entertaining one too.

As a SF story I thought it was alright, but not greatly impressive. Since the short story format is now gone and we stick with one set of characters, I missed an essential feature of the first trilogy: that sense of deep time, of slow-moving sociological forces, of civilisation changing through the centuries. Instead, Asimov doubles down on telepathy and hand-wavy mind control, and:

~~*~with special powers *~* of the brain *~* you can do anything!~*~~

But we can count on Asimov to make telepathy interesting, so there’s that. The conversations among the Second Foundationers are lengthy but very clever. They reminded me of Frank Herbert’s Bene Gesserit plots in his Dune series.

This is also the moment when Asimov decided to merge his Foundation, Robot and Empire series into one mega-series. Consequentially, the end of this novel (which up to then has been a long road trip) ties Trevise’s story to the other series in a climax where everything comes together. It’s all very intellectual. The book is all about a couple of ideas that take a lot of explaining.

Now, it’s safe to read Foundation’s Edge without knowledge of the Robot series. Some robots are mentioned. But if you want to continue the story in Foundation and Earth (1983), you’d be well advised to read the Robot series first. So that is what I will do next.

This entry was posted in Books, Science fiction and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Isaac Asimov – Foundation’s Edge (1982) Review

  1. bormgans says:

    I read foundation & Earth before the robots, it worked just fine, actually I enjoyed it a lot, much much more than the robot novel’s I’ve read.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s good to hear. My honest expectation is that I will like all of these books, probably enjoy them too, but that I won’t truly love any of them. Asimov’s writing style is too dry for me to lift them up higher. But I admire his cleverness a lot. I wasn’t planning on reading the Robot novels when I picked up Foundation, but they are short novels and classics of the genre, so I’ll just tick them off while I’m at it.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. piotrek says:

    This one got me angry! I was a huge fan of the Foundation Trilogy (and the Foundation as an institution) and the telepathic collective consciousness of Galaxia was an ultimate betrayal for me. It was so long ago, I’d have to re-read it, and finally finish the entire cycle, to update my judgement 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hah! I wasn’t so angry. But it was a strange departure for the series. What did you think of the Mule in the original trilogy? I never really liked that he screwed up the plans of the Foundation.

      Liked by 1 person

      • piotrek says:

        I definitely saw Mule as the antagonist, and I did not want him to win, but I thought he played a very interesting role in a novel I liked. With Galaxia I disagreed on a philosophical level, and I got a feeling author wants that side to win and eventually encompass the entire humanity, in his universe. That made me unhappy.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: Review: Isaac Asimov – Foundation and Earth (1986) | A Sky of Books and Movies

  4. Pingback: Review: Prelude to Foundation (1988) by Isaac Asimov | A Sky of Books and Movies

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s