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Foundation and Earth

Foundation and Earth - Isaac Asimov At the beginning of this year part of my vague reading plan was to reread the original Foundation Trilogy then move on to the subsequent unread Foundation books that Asimov wrote during the 80s, 30 years after the last book of the trilogy, [b:Second Foundation|29580|Second Foundation (Foundation, #3)|Isaac Asimov|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1417900922s/29580.jpg|64823]. I never got around to reading these later volumes for reasons that I already explained in my review of [b:Foundation's Edge|76683|Foundation's Edge (Foundation, #4)|Isaac Asimov|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1389759320s/76683.jpg|1725527]. Any way, to cut a dull anecdote short, 80s Foundation books are just as entertaining as the original trilogy from the 50s.

Foundation and Earth follows directly from [b:Foundation's Edge|76683|Foundation's Edge (Foundation, #4)|Isaac Asimov|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1389759320s/76683.jpg|1725527], the previous volume. The central character is once again Golan Trevize, his elderly sidekick Janov Pelorat, and Bliss, the posthuman woman who is part of the planet Gaia’s hive mind. The basic story arc is very simple, Trevize made a decision at the end of [b:Foundation's Edge|76683|Foundation's Edge (Foundation, #4)|Isaac Asimov|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1389759320s/76683.jpg|1725527] that will affect all of humanity. According to Gaia he has a unique innate ability to make the correct decision based on incomplete data; an ability he neither understands or trust. He is therefore not happy to be responsible for making the most important decision in history without knowing why he made that decision. The only way he can think of to clarify or validate this decision for himself is to find Earth where he expects that he can find the explanation for his own monumental but mysterious decision.

The straightforward storyline tells of the three central characters’ adventures in their search for Earth on board the super advance “gravitic” (FTL speed capable) spaceship called the “Far Star”. However, why Trevize thinks he will find his answer on Earth is not clearly explained until the end of the book.

If you are familiar with the Foundation series the lack of aliens in this space opera should come as no surprise to you. However, Trevize and co. do encounter some very strange people on the human colony planets that they visit during their search mission. The difficult search for and eventual discovery of Earth’s location is quite well built up from the beginning of the book. Asimov has always loved the mystery genre and he revels in creating the mystique and mysteries of Earth which he has already hinted at in [b:Foundation's Edge|76683|Foundation's Edge (Foundation, #4)|Isaac Asimov|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1389759320s/76683.jpg|1725527].

Foundation and Earth is not an action packed narrative however, apart from barely escaping from some fierce dogs there is no scene of battle or carnage to speak of. This book is packed to the gills with dialogues from which all the expositions are communicated. It is to Asimov’s credit that in spite of having far more dialogue than action the book is never boring. While not a great prose stylist there is an affable tone to his narrative that is quite charming and engaging; though the dialogues tend to be slightly stilted, quaint, polite and often rather formal. However, they are often amusing and charming. There is not a lot of depth to the characters who tend to be defined by their personal quirks but they are likable enough. However, Trevize tend to be a little anal retentive about certain things and the conversations the three main characters have together can be a little repetitious at times. Unlike his 50s books there are some (very mild) sex scenes that seem a little awkward. There is no vulgarity in the writing but the word penis does make a surprise appearance which caused me to spill my coffee. Also notable is an unexpected cameo appearance of one of Asimov’s very best characters from his 50s books.

If I can glean one theme from this book it is that left to our own devices humanity will eventually come a cropper due to our natural disunity and selfishness. That said, in the Foundation universe humanity work well enough together to colonize the entire galaxy, but there are some obvious signs of decay.

Foundation and Earth is very readable and entertaining, it is not as tight or fast moving as the original Foundation books but it is also quite epic in scope in spite of focusing on just three main characters in a single linear plot line. This is the last sequel to the original trilogy that he wrote, but it is followed by two prequels, [b:Prelude to Foundation|30013|Prelude to Foundation (Foundation Prequel, #1)|Isaac Asimov|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1335782474s/30013.jpg|1128436] and [b:Forward the Foundation|76679|Forward the Foundation (Foundation Prequel, #2)|Isaac Asimov|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1388261841s/76679.jpg|3046979] which I intend to read next year. After these two, there are some Foundation books written by David Brin, Greg Bear etc. which I probably will not bother with.