Thursday, January 17, 2008

Foundation and Empire by Isaac Asimov


Foundation and Empire by Isaac Asimov was originally the second in a trilogy of novels. First published in 1952, the novel is in fact two stories or two novellas originally published (separately) in 1945.

Things you should know:

*Foundation was good. Really good. But Foundation and Empire was even better.
*Foundation and Empire is infinitely better than Prelude to Foundation.
*While I would certainly recommend reading Foundation, I think you could pick up Foundation and Empire without having read the other and still appreciate it for the great book that it is. It does in fact include a nice two page summary of the novel Foundation.
*Foundation and Empire has a certain something-special about it that makes it stand apart from Foundation. The writing seems wittier, funnier, more tongue-in-cheek. There's just something about it that makes it pop.

I am still operating under the philosophy of sometimes it is better not to know, BUT at the same time I don't want to be accused of not "reviewing" it properly.

Foundation and Empire roughly picks up about three hundred years after Foundation opens. In the first novella, "The General" the reader learns of the fourth (I believe it's fourth) Seldon crisis. One of the strongest generals of the Empire (what remains of the Empire) is out to destroy the Foundation. Bel Riose is the general's name. Ducem Barr, the son of a man we met briefly in Foundation, is a main character--a character that opposes the Empire even at great risk to his own life and his own family. Lathan Devers, a trader, is also of importance. The plot of "The General" is relatively simple, and this is the shorter of the two stories. In the second novella, "The Mule" the Foundation faces its GREATEST threat so far. It begins simply with the homecoming of a bride and groom. Bayta and Toran. They're visiting Toran's family on the planet of Haven. Haven is a "rat hole" of a planet where traders--mostly retired traders--go to hide out and evade paying taxes to the Foundation. The planet is technically a part of the Foundation. But they're more of a rebellious bunch on Haven. The reader soon learns that not everyone thinks Foundation is perfect when it comes to running the galaxy--or their small part of the galaxy. There is discontent among the ranks of citizens. But even the threat--the small threat--of civil war pales in comparison to the REAL threat of The Mule. I will say no more about the Mule or the rest of the story. I don't care how curious you are! Some things you can't pry out of me.

1 comment:

Carl V. said...

"There's just something about it that makes it pop." That is certainly true. I was, of course, thrilled with Foundation and I mentioned in my review that I loved Foundation and Empire even more. I still consider it the best of the three novels in the original trilogy eventhough I like them all. I would recommend reading Foundation first eventhough I generally agree with you about the way this novel reads. I think having that history as a beginning...dare I say, 'foundation'...makes Foundation and Empire and even better read.