Foundation and Empire (1952) by Isaac Asimov

The second book in the Foundation series is a equally insightful as the first but it also just as slow to start. I almost wish that someone had put a disclaimer at the beginning that the series is more a collection of heavily connected short stories than a singular adventure itself. While there is an overall arc at play, the one setup at the beginning of the first book, each story within is its own little adventure with its own set of characters. Then again, why I expected something different in the second book is beyond me.

Nevertheless, while these characters are colorful, they fail to be gripping. Their nature seems a tad cold and unrelatable. The mystery that helps keep the reader going, ebbs and flows, only feeling sluggish where there isn’t enough character motivation to keep pushing through.

This is not to say that the books are not interesting, quite the opposite, Asimov is undoubtedly brilliant in his speculation. Its just that it lacks what can only be described as a certain warmth.

After a while, if you can ignore the coldness of it all, you are likely to be hooked. There is a lot at stake in the grand scheme of things and that is what it seems Asimov is banking on you to invest in. In this regard, he does setup compelling questions that you will want to see answered. Unfortunately, some of the answers may be obvious. However, this might be because as readers we are more experienced than those in Asimov’s time, with identifying red herrings and misdirections. Even so, you will likely find the climax entertaining if not cathartic. I certainly am struggling to place my feelings on this book. On one hand, I enjoyed it, but it made me work for that joy and I am not sure I liked that. Make of that what you will?

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