Isaac Asimov's Foundation Trilogy is one of the high-water marks of science fiction. It is the monumental story of a Galactic Empire in decline, and the secret society of scientists who seek to shorten the inevitable Dark Age with the science of psychohistory. Now, with the permission -- and blessing -- of the Asimov estate, the epic saga continues.
Fate -- and a cruel Emperor's arbitrary power -- have thrust Hari Seldon into the First Ministership of the Empire against his will. As the story opens, Hari is about to leave his quiet professorship and take on the all but impossible task of administering 25 million inhabited worlds from the all-steel planet of Trantor. With the help of his beautiful bio-engineered "wife" Dors and his alien companion Yugo, Seldon is still developing the science that will transform history, never dreaming that it will ultimately pit him against future history's most awesome threat.
About the Author
Gregory Benford is a professor of physics at the University of California, Irvine. He is a Woodrow Wilson Fellow, and was Visiting Fellow at Cambridge University. and in 1995 received the Lord Prize for contributions to sciences. His research encompasses both theory and experiments in the fields of astrophysics and plasma physics. His fiction has won many awards, including the Nebula Award for his novel Timescape. Dr. Benford makes his home in Laguna Beach, California.
Read an Excerpt
He had made enough enemies to acquire a nickname, Hari Seldon mused, and not enough friends to hear what it was.
He could feel the truth of that in the murmuring energy in the crowds. Uneasily he walked from his apartment to his office across the broad squares of Streeling University. "They don't like me," he said.
Dors Vanabili matched his stride easily, studying the massed faces. "I do not sense any danger."
"Don't worry your pretty head about assassination attempts--at least, not right away."
"My, you're in a fine mood today."
"I hate this security screen. Who wouldn't?"
The Imperial Specials had farmed out in what their captain termed "an engaging perimeter" around Hati and Dors. Some carried flash-screen projectors, capable of warding off a full heavy-weapons assault. Others looked equally dangerous bare-handed.
Their scarlet-and-blue uniforms made it easy tosee where the crowd was impinging on the moving security boundary as Hari walked slowly across the main campus square. Where the crowd was thickest, the bright uniforms simply hulled their way through. The entire spectacle made him acutely uncomfortable. Specials were not noted for their diplomacy and this was, after all, a quiet place of learning. Or had been.
Dors clasped his hand in reassurance. "A First Minister can't simply walk around without--"
"I'm not First Minister!"
"The Emperor has designated you, and that's enough for this crowd."
"The High Council hasn't acted. Until they do--"
"Your friendswill assume the best," she said mildly.
"These are my friends?" Hari eyed the crowdsuspiciously.
So they were. One called, "Hail the Prof Minister!" and others laughed.
"Is that my nickname now?"
"Well, it's not a bad one."
"Why do they flock so?"
"People are drawn to power."
"I'm still just a professor!"
To offset his irritation, Dors chuckled at him, a wifely reflex. "There's an ancient saying, 'These are the times that fry men's souls.'"
"You have a bit of historical wisdom for everything."
"It's one of the few perks that come with being an historian."
Someone called, "Hey, Math Minister!"
Hari said, "I don't like that name any better."
"Get used to it, You'll be called worse."
They passed by the great Streeling fountain and Hari took refuge in a moment of contemplating its high, arching waters. The splashes drowned out the crowd and he could almost imagine he was back in his simple, happy life. Then he hadto worry about psychohistory and Streeling University infighting. That snug little world had vanished, perhaps forever, the moment Cleon decided to make him a figure in Imperial politics.
The fountain was glorious, yet even it reminded him of the vastness that lay beneath such simplicities. Here the tinkling streams broke free, but their flight was momentary. Trantor's waters ran in mournful dark pipes, down dim passages scoured byancient engineers. A maze of fresh water arteriesand sewage veins twined through the eternal bowels. These bodily fluids of the planet had passed through uncountable trillions of kidneys andthroats, had washed away sins, been toasted with atmarriages and births, had carried off the blood ofmurders and the vomit of terminal agonies. Theyflowed on in their deep night, never knowing theclean vapor joy of unfettered weather, never free of man's hand.
They were trapped. So was he.
Their party reached the Mathist Department and ascended. Dors rose through the traptube beside him, a breeze fluttering her hair amiably, the effect quite flattering. The Specials took up watchful, rigid positions outside.
Just as he had for the last week, Hari tried again with the captain. "Look, you don't really need to keep a dozen men sitting out here--"
"I'll be the judge of that, Academician sir, if you please."
Hari felt frustrated at the waste of it. He noticed ayoung Specialman eyeing Dors, whose uni-suitrevealed while still covering.Something made himsay, "Well then, I will thank you to have your men keep their eyes where they belong!"
The captain looked startled. He glared at the offending man and stomped over to reprimand him. Hari felt, a spark of satisfaction. Going in the entrance to his office, Dors said, "I'll try to dress more strictly."
"No, no, I'm just being stupid. I shouldn't let tiny things like that bother me
She smiled prettily. "Actually, I rather liked it."
"You did? Me being stupid?"
"Your being protective."
Dors had been assigned years before to watch over him, by Eto Demerzel. Hari reflected that he had gotten used to that role of hers, little noticing that it conflicted in a deep, unspoken way with her also being a woman. Dors was utterly self-reliant, but she had qualities which sometimes did not easily jibe with her duty. Being his wife, for example.
"I will have to do it more often," he said lightly.
Still, he felta pang of guilt about making trouble for the Specialmen. Their being here was certainly not their idea; Cleon had ordered it. No doubt they would far rather be off somewhere saving the Empire with sweat and valor.
They went through the high, arched foyer of the Mathist Department, Hari nodding to the staff. Dors went into her own office and he hurried into his suite with an air of an animal retreating into its burrow. He collapsed into his airchair, ignoring the urgent-message holo that hung a meter from his face.
A wave erased it as Yugo Amaryl came in through the connecting e-stat portal. The intrusive, bulky portal was also the fruit of Cleon's security order. The Specials had installed the shimmering weapons-nulling fields everywhere. They lent an irksome, prickly smell of ozone to the air. One more intrusion of Reality, wearing the mask of Politics.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I read the classic Foundation trilogy and Issac Asimov's postquels (Foundation's Edge and Foundation and Earth) and his 2 prequels (Prelude to Foundation and Forward the Foundation) and enjoyed their epic adventures. However, the books left much unanswered about Hari Seldon---the mathematician cum prophet who finds order within the chaos that is human society. Basically, by refining complex mathematical tools, his group is able to predict the future as a set of probabilities. Set in the time of Hari Seldon's youth, this is the first in a trilogy of books. In contrast to Issac Asimov's dry writing style, this shows a much more human galaxy---such human emotions as lust, jockeying for power and fear are on display. Such core concepts as free will versus predestination also figure in the text. It's definitely not for everyone, especially if you prefer the writing style of the classic Foundation series, but I enjoy this trilogy immensely, in fact more than the original, because of the human touch in these novels.
This book can be described as greed. To put out this boring drivel as part of Azimov's foundation series is only to make money. Come on, Joan of Arc and Volitare 20,000+ years in the future in a debate? Unreadable.
I enjoyed the book, but also found it tedius in the sections with Voltaire and Joan. Too many words which say too little. The parts I did like very much related to R. Daneel Oliva and the other robots role in the Foundation universe. It's worth while to read.
I love Isaac Asimov's Foundation trilogy. I've read one other book by Gregory Benford, "Timescape," and that's pretty good! As far as "Foundation's Fear" is concerned, It stinks! It's terrible, it's bad, and anyone who owns a copy should throw it in the recycling bin. Don't sell it to a used bookstore. Yes, it's that bad. I know Benford is a physicist, and his own books are probably good, but not this one. First of all, he brings in Voltaire and Joan of Arc as "sims,' holographic images who do nothing but talk and discuss philosophy totally unrelated to the story and plot of the original trilogy. This takes up almost half the book, and it completely throws the whole Foundation series off the track. What have they got to do with the series (and I have read Voltaire's works)?! That is irrelevant. Benford puts too much intellect in this book with these two characters, which has nothing to do with the story, and that contributes to its failure as a good novel. None of it relates to the main idea of the series. Second, as part of the plot (if there is one), the minds of Seldon and Dors are temporarily placed in the bodies of monkeys, also irrelevant (and ridiculous). If that technology exists, couldn't they extend their lives by putting them in humans not yet developed (i.e. babies)?! Anyway, don't bother wasting your time and money on this book. I hope they never reprint it again. As a postscript, Greg Bear's "Foundation and Chaos" is much better. That is worth reading, and also, "Foundation's Triumph" by David Brin. Skip the first book, and consider this new series a "Foundation Duology."
As much as I enjoyed Azimov's Foundation, this book was one of the worst and most boring I ever read. I'm stuck in the middle of the book and still cannot force myself to finish it although I started reading it at least 4 month ago. I just can't go through the debris of cyberspace and see no connection between Seldon and Voltair. (not even mentioning D'Arc).
Wormhole travel was a nice addition.
I was very disappointed with this book. It really did not contribute anything meaningful to the series. My recommendation is...skip it!