First Lines: Foundation and Empire, Second Foundation

In the first part of Isaac Asimov’s Foundation-trilogy we learn how the Foundation came to be and rose to power. In the first part of its sequel Foundation and Empire we see how the Foundation overthrows the final remnants of the crumbling Galactic Empire. In the second part the Foundation itself gets overthrown by The Mule, a mutant with psychic powers, which the Seldon Plan could not predict. In order to salvage the Plan, a mission to find the mysterious Second Foundation is launched, but ultimately this fails through The Mule’s interference.

The last part of the original trilogy, Second Foundation, starts of with another attempt of The Mule’s to locate and destroy the Second Foundation. He, sort of, finds it, but is then caught off guard by Second Foundationeers who alter his psyche in such a way he no longer poses a threat. In part two there’s yet another search for the Second Foundation, this time by citizens of the First one, and a war between the Foundation and the former home world of The Mule’s empire. Which, of course, turns out to be an elaborate scheme to keep the existence, aim and location of the Second Foundation a secret.

If that seems a bit vague, I’m sorry, but that’s the best I can do. If you want more, I suppose you’d better read the whole trilogy yourself. Because it’s worth reading. These three novels exceeded every ill-conceived idea of science fiction I had by far. It isn’t all dry, cold, rational science. If you’re willing to see past the whole laser and spaceship window-dressing, you’ll find a great story with excellent writing underneath. Take this one line: But the house was somehow very lonely at night and Dr. Darell found that the fate of the Galaxy made remarkably little difference while his daughter’s mad little life was in danger. I think that’s just lovely, and I didn’t expect to find that in a story where it’s made perfectly clear that the actions of individuals don’t really matter in the grand schemes of Seldon’s Plan.

Great Galaxy, I think I might just have to read more SF. Asimov has written a lot. And I’m fairly sure that I’ll dive deeper into his work sometime. I doubt that will be the Foundation-prequels and sequels, as I understand that they are not especially essential reading. But then there’s still enough left, like the classic I, Robot.

Book read
Isaac Asimov — Foundation and Empire
First Line
Bel Riose traveled without escort, which is not what court etiquette prescribes for the head of a fleet stationed in a yet-sullen stellar system on the Marches of the Galactic Empire.
Book read
Isaac Asimov — Second Foundation
First Line
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.