Monday, March 5, 2012

Second Foundation Group Read, Conclusion

This is it! The last of the group read for the Foundation trilogy. Once upon a time I felt very intimidated by Isaac Asimov. I have been cured of that after participating in these group reads during the Science Fiction Experience.

I really enjoyed these books a lot. They’ve introduced some very interesting ideas on government, control, free will and fate. There have also been some great discussions throughout January and February and I’m going to miss them.

As with the others, questions are in bold and my answers follow. There will be spoilers of course, and with that out of the way, let’s go!

1. Now that the trilogy is over, discuss your feelings on Asimov's portrayal of female characters?

In the end I did find I liked Asimov’s portrayal of female characters. More would have been nice but we got to see different personalities and ages, with motives both good and bad. And they were part of the story and not just there as eye candy.

2. After all the back and forth mind control of the first part of Second Foundation, what was your state of mind reading this second section of the book? Were you suspicious of everyone? Did you figure things out? Were you just going along for the ride?

Other than partly guessing correctly where the Second Foundation had been the whole time, I tried to keep an open mind and just go along for the ride, so certain revelations (which I'll mention later in Question #5) really surprised me. I was slightly suspicious of the old man and lady (sorry, don't have my library copy and I forgot their names!) that met Arkady on Kalgan and helped her get away to Trantor. I thought it a little convenient that they too were just happening to be on their way to Trantor and how easily they were able to get her off of Kalgan.

3. Throughout the three novels we were shown a couple of versions of Trantor. Which is more appealing to you? Which would you rather visit?

The version of Trantor Arkady got to see seems more appearling. It’s quiet, not so densely populated. That’s more my pace. But I would have liked to visit Trantor during Seldon’s time; just to see the hustle and bustle of an entire planet devoted to the administration of a galaxy wide empire.

4. How have your thoughts about Hari Seldon, his plan, and either or both Foundations changed, or not, during the course of these three novels?

I do think Seldon was doing something good to try and ease the troubles between the fall of the first Galactic Empire and the rise of the second. I thought he had a real grasp on people and their motives with his psychohistory. But when we discover in this book, that the Second Foundationers had the ability to affect people’s mind, then I began to doubt Seldon’s "all knowing-ness"; that it just came down, not to people acting on their own according to their nature, but because of Second Foundationers influencing them. From the way the book ended, it doesn't look like either Foundation changed. The First Foundationers think they've defeated the Second, but we know that is not the case so each Foundation will continue moving along as they always had.

5. What, if anything, surprised you in this last half of the book? How do you feel Second Foundation held up compared to the other two books in the trilogy?

The Pelleas and Arkady revelations surprised me! Second Foundation, the book, seemed more in line with the first, Foundation. A lot of talk and some tense situations. Not a whole lot of action like the second book.

6. Did any themes stand out for you in this series? What are you taking away from the experience of reading the Foundation trilogy?

Free will and what does that really mean? Is influencing people through mind control really the best course in order to establish this second Galactic Empire? (Sorry, for answering a question with more questions. It's a bad habit of mine. My husband hates it!)

Despite good intentions, the actions required to achieve them have not always been honorable. I wonder if it really will be for the good of the galaxy in the end. I hope so after all the turmoil.

I want to thank Carl of Stainless Steel Droppings for hosting the group read and everyone who read and commented. Below are links to all three group reads. These go to Stainless Steel Droppings site and below the post there are links posted by other bloggers who participated:

Foundation - Part 1/Conclusion
Foundation and Empire - Part 1/Conclusion
Second Foundation - Part 1/Conclusion

I think the second book, Foundation and Empire, is my favorite. It had a lot more excitement. There was the battle between the Foundation and the Galactic Empire, then later we have Bayta and Toran barely escaping just ahead of the Mule as he conquered each planet of the Foundation. And let’s not forget the revelation of the Mule and his powers!

As a whole it’s a great series of books I highly recommend. I had a great time and I hope everyone else did too.


  1. I'm surprised I didn't suspect the old couple who rescued Arkady at the train station. I stopped trying to figure things out by then since I already fell for a few of his plot twists. But after reading your post I should have known that they were too conveniently placed in the story.

  2. While I like Asimov, I will admit that he's not the strongest character writer out there. This is very evident in the original Foundation novels (at least as I recall reading them).

    1. I think with the Foundation series, the story jumps ahead quite a bit so we don't get a chance to really hang out with the characters long enough to get to know them.