Well, that was surprisingly reactionary.
This book picks up right where the last one left off. Plot wise, not much actually happens. We now have a basic understanding of what Hari Seldon’s plan for the foundation actually is. As best we can tell, Seldin has devised a method for storing as much human knowledge as possible to minimize the fallout from the collapse of society.
What’s most interesting about this book, since it’s not particularly plot-drive, is Asimov’s description of civilizational decay. His description is very reactionary.
You’re, of course, considered a nut for thinking that our current civilization is in decline. Many of those who do think our civilization is in decline, think that our civilization will end with a bang. Your humble blogger, however, is a member of the few nuts that think our civilization is in a slow, relatively comfortable, but nevertheless inexorable decay.
This is the sort of decay that Asimov describes in this book. He may opt for a bang that shatters civilization in a later book, but not yet.
His decline is characterized by an Empire that’s getting larger and more costly, but that is unable to exert any kind of good governance. It’s anarcho-tyranny in fictional form. It’s also characterized by buildings that aren’t regularly repaired, litter, petty crime, red tape, and thinking small. In sum, stuff like this and this.
It’s the sort of decline, that if you notice it today, you’re considered cranky or hopelessly reactionary. These sorts of things don’t really matter on a societal scale, you’re told. Yet these sorts of things are the real symptoms of societal decay.
We know these symptoms, we see them all around us and we’re told not to pay attention.