On January 1st of this year I sat down and cracked open the novel Foundation, by Isaac Asimov. This novel was the first of the Foundation Trilogy. Today I am posting my last discussion on the final installment of this series. This group read has made me appreciate the series and the author. I am a little sad that the group read is at an end. However, I’m sure there will be more.
Please note that there will be spoilers in the discussion and comments. If you haven’t participated in the group read but would like to make comments please feel free to do so. It is open to all. Carl from Stainless Steel Droppings hosted the group read. If you would like to follow all of the discussions please visit this page.
1. Now that the trilogy is over, discuss your feelings on Asimov’s portrayal of female characters?
I’ll be honest, I didn’t notice the lack of female characters in the first novel until someone mentioned it. Then I started to pay attention. I was quite pleased that the female characters were depicted as brave and intelligent. Both Bayta and Arkady were fun to follow. And Lady Callia turned out to be a great character. She started off as ditzy gal and it turned out that she was a secret agent for the Second Foundation. I really liked that twist to the plot. Considering he wrote this series in the 1950s I am surprised that he created strong female protagonists. However, I feel somewhat guilty, like I’m not giving the author enough credit for treating women as equal.
2. After all the back and forth mind control of the first part of Second Foundation, what was your state of mind reading this second section of the book? Were you suspicious of everyone? Did you figure things out? Were you just going along for the ride?
I was suspicious of everyone. As we’ve discussed in the past, none of the “heroes” acted like typical heroes. Most in fact were flawed. I figured out the Mule’s identity in the second novel, however in this one, I didn’t figure out any of the surprises. I think I finally adjusted to his writing style and sat back and enjoyed the ride. He loves twists and turns. And I found it was more enjoyable not to try too hard to see who wasn’t who they were supposed to be. It was fun at the end to have that “A ha” moment.
3. Throughout the three novels we were shown a couple of versions of Trantor. Which is more appealing to you? Which would you rather visit?
As a person who loves history, I think I would prefer the remains of Trantor. I can’t wait to visit Egypt at some point in my life and to see the pyramids. I thought of Trantor as an ancient civilization and that archeologists like Indiana Jones would love to find the secrets of the society. And the library reminded me of the ancient library of Alexandria. Wouldn’t it be cool to discover a place like this?
4. How have your thoughts about Hari Seldon, his plan, and either or both Foundations changed, or not, during the course of these three novels?
The Seldon plan…refresh my memory again, what was that? At first I was all about figuring out the plan. As we continued with the books, my interest in the plan started to wane. Then I completely forgot all about it. The story turned into more of a political thriller to me. And, maybe unfortunately, I forgot all about Seldon.
5. What, if anything, surprised you in this last half of the book? How do you feel Second Foundation held up compared to the other two books in the trilogy?
I think the last installment was my favorite of the series. But I’ve said this with the other two. Maybe I just prefer the one that is fresher in my memory. I haven’t read a lot of series, but the ones I have, have let me down somewhat. This series did not let me down at all. In fact, I think Asimov kept picking up his game.
6. Did any themes stand out for you in this series? What are you taking away from the experience of reading the Foundation trilogy?
Oh I am never good at analyzing themes. It reminds me too much of school. I prefer to read for enjoyment these days. However, it wasn’t too much of a stretch to notice that free will was a major part of the story. The Mule and the Second Foundation controlled the minds of civilians. At first the Mule’s methods didn’t bother me. But then I woke up and realized how much I would hate not having my own opinions. People who know me, know I’m opinionated.
I’m glad I joined this group read. Asimov is one of those writers I heard about, but never really considered exploring his works. I ended up loving the series and now I would love to explore more of his novels. And I am less intimidated by classic science fiction.