After reading Foundation’s Edge I thought I should follow up with Foundation and Earth. When it was first published the cover claimed it was the the 5th Foundation novel. This is the 2nd Foundation novel written after Asimov’s 30 year gap and his decision to combine his Robot and Foundation settings.
The story continues where Foundation’s Edge leaves off. Trevise and Pelorat, along with Bliss, are now searching for the long-lost planet Earth in hopes it will answer their questions about whether or not the formation of Galaxia is a good idea and what unseen force is controlling information in the galaxy. All things considered, I’d say I liked the book but not with the enthusiasm I was hoping I’d be able to muster. There is a lot of information about stars in planets that comes up in conversations between the characters that kept me reading. Like most Asimov novels, there isn’t a lot of action.
My main disappointment is, like Foundation’s Edge, this isn’t really a Foundation novel. It should have been called the 2nd of the Expanded Universe Novels or Robot/Foundation Novels. The book doesn’t deal with the central premise of the Foundation novels written in the 1950’s. The early Foundation novels dealt with the Seldon Plan and the stages of development through which galactic civilization passed. The 2 new novels deal with combining the Robot and Foundation settings and don’t even worry about what the early Foundation novels revolved around. The early and later Foundation novels really should be seen as separate series. In that light, Foundation and Earth is better than Foundation’s Edge because it concerns itself with the new material and mostly forgets the old.
Asimov’s thoughts on humanity and society are interesting if not encouraging. In the original Foundation series the 2nd Foundation was so secret and so powerful that it guided humanity regardless of how humanity might struggle against it. In the later Foundation novels a secret cabal of robots take over from the 2nd Foundation and again lead humanity secretly regardless of what humanity may want.
Despite its quality, I decided a while back to read all the Foundation novels so that I could take part in conversations with other science-fiction fans. The Foundation Series is one of the bedrock pieces of science-fiction writing that has had a large influence on later authors. I’m going to carry through and read Prelude to Foundation and Forward the Foundation so that I can finish what I started.