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Second Foundation (1953)

by Isaac Asimov

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Foundation (3), Foundation Expanded Universe (13)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
9,76499519 (4.01)1 / 150
So far the Foundation was safe. But there was a hidden Second Foundation to protect the first. The Mule has yet to find it, but he was getting closer all the time. The men of the Foundation sought it, too, to escape from Mule's mind control. Only Arkady, a 14 year-old girl seemed to have the answer, or did she?… (more)

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Showing 1-5 of 85 (next | show all)
After reading some contemporary science fiction authors, I returned to this classic. I read it 33 years ago and thought it profound work, written in the 1950s this book is the third of three which describe a broad story arc covering 500 years time.

Upon, re-reading it, I notice some odd curiosities that were a product of the era in which it was written. The oddest to me was the fact that many of the male characters smoke cigars. The one future improvement over our time was the butt of the cigar could be put into a small atomic-powered incinerator which disintegrated it, presumably w/o a trace. But it wasn't only the ashtrays that were atomic-powered. The space ships, the personal defense shields, the "blaster" handguns, steel cutting, and steel welding equipment were also atomic powered. The 1950s were still a time when people broadly imagined that atomic power, which up to this point, had only destroyed two Japanese cities and a number of South Pacific islands, was somehow going to be "harnessed" and be used for all sorts of mundane tasks. With the benefit of hindsight, this looks way off the mark.

But there is still plenty of genius in this work. The concept of psychohistory and the predictability of societies is still an intriguing possibility. The political machinations of all the various star systems still seem well anchored in human history and echo the growth of western civilization with its empires and their downfalls. Consequently, these books still speak to our human journey, because our future, in most respects is going to echo our past.

Since it had been 33 years, I had forgotten all the details of these books. That allowed me to be surprised and delighted once again when both the second and third books had an unexpected twist at the end. I said to myself "I did not see that coming!" Which is classic Asimov.

Reading these books again is a great education in writing timeless fiction. The stuff that does not work are predictions of our daily lives and our "labor-saving devices". No science fiction author in the 1950s or 1960s, that I know of, predicted any of the following: personal computers, the Internet (especially the World Wide Web), smartphones (pocket super-computers), or large flat LED/LCD screens. [There was, however, the Dick Tracy wristwatch which was a by-directional video call.] On the other hand, where are the robots and flying cars of the Jetsons?

Measured against this metric, these books score very well. They actually spend little time describing technology at all. These books speak of "book films" which require some kind of viewer, as replacing reading actual paper books (Asimov scores points for predicting eBook readers 60 years before we had them.) The space ships travel faster than light and travel across space in successive jumps through hyperspace (this concept still holds up well.) Given the immense distance between the stars and the Einstien's speed limit, implying the requirement for faster than light travel for any meaningful commerce to occur between star systems. But Asimov's real focus in these books are the interactions among the characters and the political moves and counter moves of these star system's and their leaders. This seems aspect seems timeless.

I think every science fiction fan should read these classics. Remember, they predate Star Trek by a decade! They still intrigue and delight today, more than 70 years after they were written. And that is still a major accomplishment for any writer. ( )
  RFBrost | Jul 8, 2020 |
Second Foundation is a fitting end to Asimov's trilogy

Picking up right where Foundation and Empire ended Asimov provides an amazing finale to the Mule's arc in what is probably the most action driven part of the whole story. The second part goes back to the kind of narrative that marked this trilogy. The last chapter really makes the story stick. ( )
1 vote Miguel.Arvelo | Jun 9, 2020 |
I'm still amazed at how well this and the other two books in the trilogy holds up. It's easy to let little things go like all the focus on Atomic Reactors when they've still got FTL. We could replace one technology with another and still have the same core story shine.

And it really shines.

Yes, SF has had tons of telepathic SOBs, but I still count the Mule as one of the most savvy and intelligent dictators to ever topple a galactic empire. The first half of this book deals entirely with him and his long quest to hunt down the Second Foundation. It is an obsession with him.

And all the while? Yeah, the Second Foundation remains elusive and scarily effective, eventually trapping and defeating the Mule with wit and brilliant conversations and logical traps that are brilliant. I can't recommend this series more. The core stories are still as sharp as ever, even if we as readers are jaded by 60 years of authors riding on Asimov's coattails. :)

The second portion of this novel was slightly more special to me, oddly enough, and no matter how much I loved the Mule, I really enjoyed the First Foundation hunting for the Second Foundation even more. The characters involved in it were wonderful.

The First Foundation always seems to get things wrong, but this the same as usual. :) Still, the surprise at the end stayed with me after 30 years between readings and still made me smile after my second reading, so that *is* a very good sign, is it not? :)

Yes, this trilogy still remains in my top 10 list of (single books or trilogies) out of all the books I've ever read. :) Great stuff. ( )
  bradleyhorner | Jun 1, 2020 |
The third instalment to the Foundation series, I found that this novel did not breach the barriers that the previous two did. I was not as entertained and interested in this particular title.

2 stars. ( )
  DanielSTJ | Mar 26, 2020 |
Very Agatha Christie!
( )
  LindaLeeJacobs | Feb 15, 2020 |
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» Add other authors (24 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Asimov, IsaacAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Billon, Pierresecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Foss, ChrisCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fruttero, CarloForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Giralt, PilarTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lucentini, FrancoForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Scaglia, CesareTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sweet, Darrell K.Cover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Thole, KarelCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Whelan, MichaelCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Youll, StephenCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To Marcia, John, and Stan
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The First Galactic Empire had endured for tens of thousands of years.
THE MULE It was after the fall of the First Foundation that the constructive aspects of the Mule's regime took shape.
There is much more that the Encyclopedia has to say on the subject of the Mule and his Empire but almost all of it is not germane to the issue at immediate hand, and most of it is considerably too dry for our purposes in any case.
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