Escape Velocity

A curated Collection of Fantasy and Science Fiction Media

As the Galactic Empire is slowly succumbing to decay and degeneration, the influence of the Foundation on the edge of the galaxy keeps growing rapidly- until word of their rise reaches Trantor and the dying Empire itself, in the person of the great general Bel Riose, sets its sights on the Foundation. People start to panic: how does an imperial fleet honing in on Terminus fit in the Seldon Plan?

Foundation and Empire

Writing a review of Foundation and Empire feels somewhat pointless. If you’ve picked up Foundation and decided to read on, it’s not likely I’ll dissuade you. If you haven’t read Foundation, there’s no point in reading Foundation and Empire. Still, if you’re in doubt about whether or not the series is for you, and you’ve decided to peek at the review of the second part… 

The second part in the series continues with its fascinating experiment of the application of statistics to human history, here exploring, for example, the meaning of individual actions or extremely unlikely events in predicting the future on the basis of psychohistory and statistics. 

Three things set the second book apart from the first. Firstly, the book is split into two novella’s and therefore only includes two arcs (as opposed to the five arcs in the first book). That leads to the second important difference: because the book has fewer story arcs, Asimov finds a bit more time to develop his characters. I will not say that he is particularly good at it, but there is at least a lot less distance between the reader and the events taking place. The third difference is the appearance in the second half of the book of a number of plot elements and story tropes that are far more reminiscent of fantasy stories than science fiction. 

Whilst I think that Asimov’s choice to move towards a more character-focussed narrative is laudable, I think his execution leaves something to be desired, and I was personally a bit disappointed by the fantasy twists in The Mule – in all honesty, it is not the kind of story that I read Asimov for. As a result I think that Foundation and Empire is actually a bit less good than Foundation, although it is a bit more accessible. That said, the teasing of a Second Foundation in the second half of the book did make me want to pick up that book right after.

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