Foundation and Chaos (Second Foundation Series #2)by Greg Bear
With Hari Seldon on trial for treason, the Galactic
Isaac Asimov's renowned Foundation Trilogy pioneered many of the familiar themes of modern science fiction and shaped many of its best writers. With the permission and blessing of the Asimov estate, the epic saga left unfinished by the Grand Master himself now continues with this second masterful volume.
With Hari Seldon on trial for treason, the Galactic Empire's long-anticipated migration to Star's End is about to begin. But the mission's brilliant robot leader, R. Daneel Olivaw, has discovered a potential enemy far deadlier--and closer--than he ever imagined. One of his own kind.
A freak accident erases the basic commandments in humaniform robot Lodovik Trema's positronic brain. Now Lodovic's service to humankind is no longer bound by destiny, but by will. To ensure his loyalty, Daneel has Lodovic secretly reprogrammed. But can he be trusted? Now, other robots are beginning to question their mission--and Daneel's strategy. And stirrings of rebellion, too, are infecting their human counterparts. Among them is a young woman with awesome psychic abilities, a reluctant leader with the power to join man and robot in a quest for common freedom.or mutual destruction.
Read Gregory Benford's Foundation's Fear, the first novel in this bold new series and Secret Foundation, the concluding volume from David Brin.
Read an Excerpt
The centuries recede, and the legend of Hari Seldon grows: the brilliant man, wise man, sad man who charted the course of the human future in the old Empire. But revisionist views prosper, and cannot always be easily dismissed. To understand Seldon, we are sometimes tempted to refer to apocrypha, myths, even fairy tales from those distant times. We are frustrated by the contradictions of incomplete documents and what amount to hagiographies.
This we know without reference to the revisionists: that Seldon was brilliant, Seldon was key. But Seldon was neither saint nor divinely inspired prophet, and of course, he did not act alone. The most pervasive myths involve . . .
--Encyclopedia Galactica, 117th Edition, 1054 F.E.
Hari Seldon stood in slippered feet and a thick green scholar's robe on the enclosed parapet of an upperside maintenance tower, looking from an altitude of two hundred meters over the dark aluminum and steel surface of Trantor. The sky was quite clear over this Sector tonight, only a few vague clouds scudding before nacreous billows and sheets of stars like ghostly fire.
Beneath this spectacle, and beyond the ranks of gently curving domes, obscured and softened by night, lay a naked ocean, its floating aluminum covers pulled aside across hundreds of thousands of hectares. The revealed sea glowed faintly, as if in response to the sky. He could not remember the name of this sea: Peace, or Dream, or Sleep. All the hidden oceans of Trantor had such ancient names, nursery names to soothe. The heart of the Empire needed soothing as much as Hari; soothing, not sooth.
Warm sweet air swirled around his head andshoulders from a vent in the wall behind him. Hari had discovered that the air here was the purest of any in Streeling, perhaps because it was drawn directly from outside. The temperature beyond the plastic window registered at two degrees, a chill he would well remember from his one misadventure upperside, decades before.
He had spent so much of his life enclosed, insulated from the chill as well as the freshness, the newness, much as the numbers and equations of psychohistory insulated him from the harsh reality of individual lives. How can the surgeon work efficiently and still feel the pain of the carved flesh?
In a real sense, the patient was already dead. Trantor, the political center of the Galaxy, had died decades, perhaps centuries before, and was only now obviously falling to rot. While Hari's brief personal flame of self would flicker out long before the Empire's embers powdered to ash, through the equations of the Project he could see clearly the rigor of morbidity, the stiffening face of the Empire's corpse.
This awful vision had made him perversely famous, and his theories known throughout Trantor, and in many parts of the Galaxy. He was called "Raven" Seldon, harbinger of nightmare doom.
The rot would last five more centuries, a simple and rapid deflation on the time-scales of Hari's broadest equations . . . Social skin collapsing, then melting away over the steel bones of Trantor's Sectors and municipalities . . .
How many human tales would fill that collapse! An empire, unlike a corpse, continues to feel pain after death. On the scale of the most minute and least reliable equations, sparkling within the displays of his powerful Prime Radiant, Hari could almost imagine a million billion faces blurred together in an immense calculus to fill the area beneath the Empire's declining curve. Acceleration of decay marked by the loci of every human story, almost as many as the points on a plane . . . Beyond understanding, without psychohistory.
It was his hope to foster a rebirth of something better and more durable than the Empire, and he was close to success . . . according to the equations.
Yet still his most frequent emotion these days was cold regret. To live in a bright and youthful period, the Empire at its most glorious, stable and prosperous--that would be worth all his eminence and accomplishment!
To have returned to him the company of his adopted son Raych, and Dors, mysterious and lovely Dors Venabili, who harbored within tailored flesh and secret steel the passion and devotion of any ten heroes . . . For their return alone he would multiply geometrically the signs of his own decay, aching limbs and balky bowels and blurred eyesight.
This night, however, Hari was close to peace. His bones did not ache much. He did not feel the worms of grief so sharply. He could actually relax and look forward to an end to this labor.
The pressures pushing him were coming to a hard center. His trial would begin within a month. He knew its outcome with reasonable certainty. This was the Cusp Time. All that he had lived and worked for would be realized soon, his plans moving on to their next step--and to his exit. Conclusions within growth, stops within the flow.
He had an appointment soon to meet with young Gaal Dornick, a significant figure in his plans. Mathematically, Dornick was far from being a stranger; yet they had not met before.
And Hari believed he had seen Daneel once again, though he was not sure. Daneel would not have wanted him to be sure; but perhaps Daneel wanted him to suspect.
So much of what passed for history on Trantor now reeked of misery. In statecraft, after all, confusion was misery--and sometimes misery was a necessity. Hari knew that Daneel still had much work to do, in secret; but Hari would never--could never--tell any other human. Daneel had made sure of that. And for that reason Hari could never speak the complete truth about Dors, the true tale of the odd and virtually perfect relationship he had had with a woman who was not a woman, not even human, yet friend and lover.
Hari, in his weariness, resisted but could not suppress a sentimental sadness. Age was tainted and the old were haunted by the loss of lovers and friends. How grand it would be if he could visit with Daneel again! Easy to see, in his mind's eye, how that visit would go: after the joy of reunion, Hari would vent some of his anger at the restrictions and demands Daneel had placed upon him. The best of friends, the most compelling of taskmasters.
Meet the Author
Greg Bear has won two Hugo Awards and three Nebula Awards and is a past president to the Science Fiction Writers of America. He lives in Seattle, Washington.
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JUST LIKE READING ASIMOV. BEAR SHOWS HIS VERSATILITY AND STRENGTH.GREAT JOB. TIES IN WITH THE LONG WINDED FIRST OF THE SERIES AND SETS UP THE LAST VERY WELL. IF YOU HAVE READ THE ROBOT SERIES AND THE FOUNDATION SERIES BY ASIMOV THIS IS A MUST. THE OTHER TWO BOOKS OF THE SECOND SERIES ARE UNNECESSARY.
Foundation and Chaos should be the third book, after Isaac Asimov's "Prelude to Foundation" and "Forward to Foundation." It fits well with these, rather than Benford's "Foundation's Fear." I have done a review of "Foundation's Fear," gave it a one star, and rated it as a poor novel that nobody, especially the Foundation fans should read, or even buy. I stand behind this. Benford's book died a quick and deserved death. Greg Bear's book, Foundation and Chaos, by contrast, is a vast improvement. It gets back on track with the Foundation series. It takes place after "Forward the Foundation," and contains several plots, along with a conclusion where the two Foundations are finally established, paving the way for Isaac Asimov's trilogy. Before I go into this, I will point out that the two sims, Voltaire and Joan of Arc are in this book, but only mentioned in a total of 10 to 15 pages. If you ignore those references, you will still have a complete book. Personally, I think Greg Bear should edit these out in future editions, but being part of "The Second Foundation Trilogy," Bear just had to include these. He does offer a good explanation of them as where one of the characters, a robot, does research on robots at a library on Trantor, and the Sims, the Memes, were created to preserve history, but a couple of them were released in the computer, and later, on fields and plasmas in the universe, so you don't have to read Benford's book to have an understanding of this (and by all means, please don't). One other error was the mention of the planet Nak, the largest inhabited planet in the galaxy, a gas giant four million kilometers wide. A planet that large is impossible to inhabit, because it is a gas giant, and the gravity, along with the gas, is so great, that it would crush any living being like a pancake. There are several plots and new characters, and thy do intertwine. It ends with the two Foundations being established, and it is a fitting addition to the "Prelude to Foundation Trilogy." Also note the title, "Foundation and Chaos." The Chaos worlds are those worlds that realize the empire is deteriorating, and attempt to establish their own separate cultures and civilizations, separate from the empire. However, the empire makes an attempt to suppress these worlds and get them back into the fold. The book doesn't say whether or not they succeed. This is only the second book in the actual new series, and "Foundation's Triumph," by David Brin follows, but that goes into the category of Asimov's two books, "Foundation's Edge," and "Foundation and Earth," covering a whole new concept.