I’ve been reading these books in chronological order within the series, not in the order they were published. Asimov’s oldest books in the series are packed with interesting ideas, but the writing tends to be . . . underdeveloped. The newer books are well written but, at times, they struggle to tie together story lines from lots of earlier books (it’s incredibly impressive that Asimov was able to tie it all together as well as he did, but it’s often a stretch).
This one is a one of the older books. It would probably have seemed much better if I’d read the books in the order they were written. As I read them, this book seemed rather dull.
The big surprise is supposed to be that a Second Foundation dedicated to “mentallics” – which is basically a mental ability to communicate with others and influence the opinions and actions of others – exists separately from the First Foundation, which is dedicated to science.
If you read the books in the order I read them, there’s nothing surprising about the Second Foundation.
This book is divided into two parts. In the first part, the Second Foundation defeats the Mule. Frankly, the first part was pretty bad. There was very little development, so the end wasn’t particularly interesting. The Second Foundation manages to turn the Mule into a benevolent dictator (apparently it can’t use his incredible powers to speed up the original plan at all).
However, in defeating the Mule, the Second Foundation revealed its existence to the First Foundation. The second part of the book deals with the efforts of the First Foundation to find and destroy the Second Foundation.
I found this a bit far fetched. The First Foundationers basically worshipped Hari Seldon as a god, but apparently wanted to wipe out the Second Foundation. Anyway, the First Foundation eventually finds what it believes is the Second Foundation and wipes it out.
Once the Second Foundation is revealed, it’s not clear why they haven’t found any way of improving on Seldon’s original plan. After all, in hundreds of years, some variables should have changed, right?
Anyway, I’ve got two books left in this series, then I’ll be looking for other good fiction to listen to on my commute. Recommendations are always appreciated.