The time has come for the first discussion of Second Foundation by Isaac Asimov. This year I joined a groupread of the Foundation trilogy hosted by Carl at Stainless Steel Droppings and this is the last novel of the trilogy. Please note that there will be spoilers in the discussion and in the comments.
1. How have your perceptions of the Mule and his form of governing grown or changed, or not, after spending more time with him in this novel?
When we first met the Mule in the previous novel I felt bad for him. In fact, I was cheering him on since he didn’t seem like such an evil dictator. However, his obsession to find the Second Foundation and to destroy it changed my opinion completely. I started to see him as a madman thirsting for complete power and control. I should have seen this before since he was controlling people’s minds but I felt bad for him in the last novel. Also reading more about Hans Pritcher and how easily he was manipulated in the beginning made me realize how powerful the Mule was. Then seeing Pritcher’s anger at the end reinforced in my mind that the Mule was not a nice guy.
2. Having finally gotten a glimpse into the mysterious Second Foundation, what are your feelings/thoughts about this group and their methods (as revealed thus far)
To be honest the glimpse that I saw wasn’t enough for me to form a complete opinion. However, to answer the question I was slightly disappointed that they also used a form of mind control that is eerily similar to the Mule’s power. After liking the Mule and then despising him, when I learned that the Second Foundationers also used mind control—well it put me off completely. Once again, the “heroes” of the series aren’t that much better than the “bad” guys. I’m curious how all of this will wrap up in the final pages and if I will start to respect the Second Foundationers.
3. Has your understanding of the Seldon Plan changed at all with the revelations about the plan and the Second Foundationers near the end of this first part of our reading? Looking back does it alter any ideas you had about Seldon and his predictions?
I don’t know if I am missing something or if I am forgetting something (I read the first half of this book over a week ago) but I don’t feel all that much closer to understanding Seldon’s Plan. In fact, I’ve completely given up trying to figure it out and now I am just enjoying the ride and hoping at the end I’ll have that “A ha” moment. The books and characters have taken so many twists and turns that I just can’t keep up anymore. And that is a good thing. I hate when I figure stuff out too early.
4. A simple one: How did you feel the first part of Second Foundation held up in comparison to the sections we’ve previously read?
For me, each book gets better. His character development keeps improving and his storytelling is intriguing. I thought for sure after I completed Foundation and Empire that the next one couldn’t compete. And I’m glad to learn that I was wrong completely.
5. It is perhaps not surprising that Asimov’s second important female character in the trilogy would be a direct descendent of the first. What do you think of young Arcadia “Arkady” Darell?
I really enjoyed her interaction with the man who asked to come into her window. She was sassy and fun. I’m curious to find out more about her. I also like how she is portrayed as a know-it-all teenager. I remember those days.
If you would like to follow all of the discussions please visit this page. Next week will be the final discussion of this trilogy. Back to my reading.