Posted by: Andy | April 9, 2008

book review: Foundation & Earth

by: Isaac Asimov

Yes, I’ve been on quite a sci-fi/fantasy binge as of late. The whole foundation/robot run, 2 Saberhagen trilogies, and the Lyndon Hardy trilogy. So I think I’ll take a little break for the next one and do some non-fic, we’ll see.

Anyway, this book…wow, what a shitty ending. Which, I guess is because he intended to write a sequel but never got it together, and then died. 😦

But other than the ending…

We revisit Asimov’s two favorite themes (at least for this series): random leaps of illogic that either result in the correct answer, or result in an incorrect answer that directly leads to the correct one, and moving from one place to another to interview people and collect “evidence” for the random leaps of illogic.

This book goes so far to enshrine the random leaps of “intuition”/whatever that the lead character actually has it as a sort of super-power. Sometimes he just knows stuff. Not things that are directly useful – like where he left his shoes, or what < >. Instead he knows useless things, like what the correct form of future civilization for the galaxy should be. Oh, there’s also frequent mention of the width of one character’s hips, and a really annoying, squeaky hermaphrodite everyone insists on calling a she.

Now, all this may make it sound like I hated the book, but I most certainly didn’t. I won’t read it again (unless I forget it), but I did enjoy it. It’s just a bummer than we’re left with such a foreboding ending, and no follow-up.

THREE STARS

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Responses

  1. I have never understood why anyone with a love of reading feels the slightest affection for the work of Asimov. He is the WORST major writer in the history of SF, a typical example of a few neat ideas being stretched into a novel and then milking that into a series–the bane of SF. Asimov had absolutely no ear for dialogue and his characterizations were stock and frequently embarrassing. Gimme Philip K. Dick any day, at least the man is a fun, entertaining read…

  2. Which is Asimov’s best book?

  3. @Cliff Burns:

    I love pkd. (Yes, I will skip the obvious “I love Dick!” joke because my wife has heard me make them way too often). He’s definitely one of my favorite writers, and my collection of 1st printings of his paperbacks is probably the pride of my library.

    Clans of the Alphane moon is my favorite, if any one cares.

    His work is immensely more entertaining than Asimov’s on average. The whole Robot-Foundation thing is all I’ve read of Asimov’s though, so I’m not really fit to judge his body of work. I will agree with your judgment of his characters as far as I’ve read.

    Even with the baggage though, I can still enjoy some of his stuff. As for a dialog…a lot of early sci-fi was up the ass in cheesy dialog, so it might not be fair to hold the older writers to the same standard as modern greats.

    @Eamon: No idea, I’ve only read this small swath. Of those, according to the ratings I’ve got listed in my librarything (click the librarything button in my sidebar if you want to see the contents), I gave I, Robot & Naked Sun 4 stars, so they would be tied for top.


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