Forward the Foundation – Book Review

I finished the second book (in chronological order) in the Foundation series this week. It picks up exactly from the point where the previous book (Prelude to Foundation) ended.

I recommend reading the original trilogy before reading these two prequel novels as they will seem boring if you do not know anything about the Foundations planned by Seldon. If you are not sure what Seldon is trying to do, you may not be that invested in the story. I would suggest reading the original trilogy and only picking up prequels if you enjoyed them. There is again a surprise reveal in this novel which I am sure nobody can guess.

In the previous novel, we saw how Seldon came up with pyschohistory theory and how he was struggling to make it more practical. In this novel, we see the empire falling apart slowly. We see instability everywhere in the galaxy along with some conspiracies, even in Trantor. Yugo Amaryl, who was rescued from Dahl sector in the previous novel becomes a pyschohistorian in this novel and does some major contributions to the project under the guidance of Seldon. We hear a lot about the invention of a device called Prime Radiant which holds all the mathematical equations of psychohistory. In this book, development of psychohistory enables Seldon to predict some of the events before they happen and he tries to alter them in order to delay the fall of empire.

The novel begins with Seldon becoming head of the department of mathematics in Streeling University. Joranum is a demagogue who wants to gain power and tries to destabilize the empire in the beginning by exposing the true identity of Demerzel. We do learn a lot about pyschohistory, much more than what we learnt in the previous novel including how Terminus got picked as the foundation planet. I liked this novel a tad bit more than the previous one as it discusses about Seldon’s plans as well. We learn quite a bit about the second foundation as well. Seldon’s granddaughter, Wanda is introduced and she plays a key role in the project. We hear about the rebellion in the outer planets like Anacreon and Santanni.

Dors was my favorite character in both the prequel books. It was nice to see a kickass woman character like hers. I also liked Demerzel a lot in these books so I was sad to see the way he was portrayed in the Apple’s TV adaptation. Dors is not even present in the TV series. I wish they had stuck to the books a bit more. They could have at least retained few characters that were readers’ favorites and not ruin the story completely. I did not like the first two episodes and found them to be too boring and yawn inducing. I waited for the adaptation for more than a decade or so and I was really disappointed with Apple’s adaptation.

I really liked reading about the necessity of minimalism in psychohistory project –

“You must have minimalism because every change, any change, has myriad side effects that can’t always be allowed for. Any change greater than the minimal is chaotic.”

Some cool concepts from this book are –

  • TrantorVision
  • holoscreens
  • holotapes
  • hologram
  • subetheric holovision
  • holographs, holographic laughtracks
  • holo-disc
  • visiglobes
  • hyperspatial contact
  • credits (for money)
  • hyperconnection (like Internet)
  • Blasters
  • ground-cars, hyperships
  • scrambler field
  • Imperial tennis with computerized rackets
  • neuronic whip
  • vibrorazor
  • Electro-Clarifier
  • Prime Radiant
  • achaotic equations
  • taxation problem
  • skitters
  • Galactography, Galactograph
  • reference tiles (like business cards)
  • Galaxy simulation with 25 million habitable planets (wow!)
  • unisuit
  • computerized gene analyzer
  • time-strip on walls (like clocks)
  • gravicab
  • gliderail
  • static shield against listening devices
  • gravitic repulsion elevator
  • spaceports
  • crisis holograms

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