When I started high school in 1978, I was proud that I’d read every piece of fiction that Isaac Asimov had written to date. You’re probably thinking, “Damn dude, I bet you got beat up a lot on the playground.” Fortunately for me, I grew up in a town of geeks and nerds (Huntsville, AL) where everybody had a little geek in their blood.
I can’t remember whether Asimov published additional works of fiction while I was in high school. I suspect he did, but my interests were shifting from science fiction and fantasy to girls and beer. However, when Asimov released his now-famous Foundation’s Edge in 1982 when I was a freshman in college, I was definitely first in line at Walden Books. And as Junie B. Jones would say, “Wowie, wow, wow.”
But today’s review is not about Foundation’s Edge. Rather, it is my thought on its sequel, Foundation & Earth, which I did not read until 2021 (one month ago at this writing). In a way, that seems really weird: here is a series of novels that I had fallen in love with as a pre-teen, and yet I never knew how it ended. Without further ado:
Asimov really shouldn’t do sex.
The man was a genius when it came to grand, sweeping concepts in science fiction. He basically invented the idea of “Galactic Empire”. Hell, he did invent the science of psychohistory. And his robot fiction examines some truly fascinating ethical dilemmas. But his sex scenes and dialogue/exposition on sex and gender is cringe-worthy.
But I was impressed with the way that he developed Golan Travize. The protagonist, who was searching for Earth in the previous volume, has a feeling — yes, an honest-to-God emotion from one of the classic science fiction authors — that the future of the galaxy lies not in the technological prowess of the First Foundation or in the mental abilities of the Second Foundation but, instead in a third option: an expansion of a planetwide group consciousness named Gaia to the entire galaxy. And for some reason that is not revealed until the end, he needs to find the mythical planet Earth in order to validate his decision. Given that I have followed the plight of this futuristic future (ahem) my whole life, I was generally pleased with how his struggle enfolded, which finally culminated with one of Asimov’s famous twists (actually, two) at the end.
I’d give it 7 Far Stars out of 10. It’s essential and easy reading for any fan of Asimov’s future history.