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Isaac Asimov – Foundation’s Edge

Title: Foundation’s Edge
Author: Isaac Asimov
Narrator: Larry McKeever
Year: 1982

To my mind, Isaac Asimov has been over-rated, at least until recently. I begun exploring his works by reading Foundation, which did not impress me to any greater extent. Several short stories later, I felt none the wiser as to why Asimov is considered one of the greatest science-fiction writers of all time. After having read two brilliant books (I, Robot and The Positronic Man), he has at least risen to some sort of average level, but he is still very far from being a favourite of mine.

Therefore, I was a little bit sceptical about Foundation’s Edge since it was the fourth book in the series and has one a Hugo for best novel (which means I have to read it to complete my 101-in-1001 list). After consulting friends, I decided to read summaries of the two intermediate novels rather than spend many hours reading them. Afterwards, I feel that this strategy worked pretty well and I doubt that my experience of this novel would have been much different otherwise.

The narration of Foundation’s Edge is split into two main threads, one originating in the First Foundation (well known from previous books) and the other in the Second Foundation. The main focus is on the councilman Golan Travize of the First Foundation, who after having been betrayed by a friend, is sent into exile to find the Second Foundation (but under the pretence of looking for earth with an accompanying historian). The Second Foundation recognises the danger and sends an envoy of their own to foil this attempt. However, both of the factions are oblivious to what is really going on.

Isaac Asimov writes intelligent and well thought-out fiction, of that there can be no doubt. The plot is well depicted, nicely interwoven with the characters. The themes are epic and the author knows how to expound on their background and relevancy. However, I still do not fancy Asimov’s style, which is a pity. He writes the most entertaining introductions to other people’s short stories, but he utterly fails to write in an entertaining way in this and other Foundation novels.

I also feel that the genre is not quite my cup of tea. I like epic science-fiction, but Foundation’s Edge feels old and dusty, where I crave brilliance and innovation. This is of course not entirely Asimov’s fault; I am just trying to explain why I do not think that this deserves more that three snails. By way of conclusion, the hypothesis still holds that stories by Asimov that focus on robots are generally very good, but that everything else should be avoided.

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