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4.1 out of 5 stars17
4.1 out of 5 stars
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on 18 May 2000
I found this to be a very exciting novel, written in a style that very closely resembles that of Asimov himself; especially in his later foundation novels (e.g. Forward the Foundation and Robots and Empire). I also liked the links and overlaps with Asimov's novels: contrary to Foundations Fear, this story truly makes you feel you're back in the Galactic Empire. In Foundations Fear in my opinion Benford focusses too much on trying to "update" the science in the Empire to our current internet society; which alienates that novel from Asimov's original works. Bear shows us here how it should have been done and I truly hope he will write more Foundation novels in the future.
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on 17 May 2006
Much better than the disappointing "Foundation's Fear", the first volume of the second trilogy. If you enjoyed Asimov's Foundation novels, you will very probably enjoy "Foundation and Chaos". Greg Bear clearly immersed himself in Asimov's treatment of the Foundation universe much more thoroughly than Benford did. Of course Bear is not Asimov and does not try to be; the Asimovian context is just the background for Bear's ideas; but nevertheless the characters, plot, and development are all consistent with Asimov's conception.

"Foundation and Chaos" does refer to some incidents in "Foundation's Fear", and the 'sim' characters of Voltaire and Joan of Arc are still present, but I think you would miss nothing important if you skipped "Foundation's Fear" altogether and started the 'post-Asimov' Foundation books with this one.
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on 7 March 2002
This is the reward for persisting with the first volume. As if apologising for the incompatible ideas in Foundation's Fear, Bear manages to bring some of Benford's ideas back into Asimov's Foundation universe, and puts the Second Foundation Trilogy firmly back on course. To be fair to Benford, perhaps his incongruities were just a brave and unselfish attempt at widening the scope of the new trilogy, I suppose they do help make this and the final volume more interesting.
Bear thankfully re-introduces the hyperspace jump alongside Benford's wormholes, makes the Voltaire and Joan sims (is that a deliberate Carry On pun?) far more believable, and on the whole manages to give the whole thing a far more Asimov-esque feel. He even allows one of his characters to "tighten his lips" at one point (have you ever seen anyone tighten their lips?).
Bear is a very convincing and entertaining storyteller, keeping us captivated throughout. This volume is far more easy to accept as part of the Foundation Saga than the first, and I found it extremely difficult to put down.
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on 12 July 2012
This second volume of the Second Foundation Trilogy adds new depth to the events at the start of Asimov's original Foundation Trilogy - the trial of Hari Seldon and the creation of the First Foundation. Greg Bear writes more in the style of Asimov, and so has suffered fewer complaints from Asimov fans than the unfortunate Gregory Benford, who wrote the first volume. He does, however, repeat Benford's faux pas, and misspells the name of a major character from Asimov's original books.

The story builds slowly, with a couple of hundred pages spent putting the materials in place for a steadily building climax in the second half of the book, full of setbacks and twists. We discover that not all robots share R. Daneel Olivaw's increasingly spooky paternalism towards the human race, and that Hari Seldon anticipated much more about later events in the Foundation novels than has been previously evident. The software simulations of Voltaire and Joan of Arc (introduced in the first volume by Gregory Benford, to widespread disapproval) have important roles to play, and their contrasting attitudes are used to subtly illuminate the contrasting world-views of the two robot factions in this book - it's increasingly difficult to see why some readers consider them to be extraneous annoyances, rather than integral plot elements. The foundation of Gaia (the mentalic world introduced from left field in Asimov's Foundation and Earth) is prefigured, and there's a distinctly half-baked effort to explain the upsurge in human mentalic abilities as some sort of evolutionary immune reaction by humans, generated in response to the continuing interference in human history by Olivaw's robots. (This explanation is overturned by Brin in the third volume, who then, rather typically, hints at a way of overturning his own explanation.)

A worthy continuation of the Second Foundation Trilogy, and I remove a star simply because the true motives and objectives of the main players are sometimes obscure, making the fast-paced climax seem ultimately arbitrary in its outcome.
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on 7 January 2001
It had the very familiar feel of a true Asimov. With all the inventiveness and searchingly imaginative logic that is so clear and obvious you kick yourself for not having made that connection or projection. The story fits in precisely with the Foundation epics.Giving more insight into the personal life of Harri, Daneel, Lodovik and Dors.
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on 6 August 1999
Having read Gregory Benford's "Foundation's Fear" and being somewhat disapointed by the lack of excitement one comes to expect from novels associated with the Asimov-label, I was not expecting to be bowled over by Greg Bears novel. However, bowled over I was. This is a story which is so busy, so full of action, it makes up for Benfords poor effort. I loved this book, because it explores the issues of robot intervention with mankind very deeply, yet does not waffle nor drag on. There is not a boring moment in this book; a good opening, a stunning climax, and fequent moments of awe inspriring plot twists that almost make you want to check the front cover just to convince yourself you're not actually reading Asimov himself.
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on 6 December 1999
After the major disappointment of the first of the 'new' foundation books, Bear's effort came as a real relief. Partly because it is 2/3rds the size of the first, but mainly because it is better plotted, with more action and intrigue, Chaos was almost impossible to put down. The story actually overlaps with the first Asimov Foundation book by recounting Seldon's trial in greater detail. Can't wait for the final installment: excellent. Just hope people will persevere after Benford's dull contribution.
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on 28 November 2001
Unlike Foundation's Fear, this book builds well on some of Asimov's ideas and remains loyal to them. The story is good but still a little slow at times.
Unfortunately, the Joan of Arc and Voltaire sims are still present from the previous book (and equally pointless and unbelievable).
This cannot compare to the original three Foundation stories. (But then neither could any of Asimov's other Foundation books)
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on 12 March 2016
It reads like Asimov and is a good tale. BUT I'm not sure about the idea of filling in the back story in this way. The problem is that there was no mention of robots in the original Foundation story and this new story gives a completely different spin to the whole idea underlying the original three books.
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on 8 August 1999
Second in the trio, and much better than than the first Daneel and Hari feature in much of the book, which makes for compelling reading. However, some facts seem to be at odds with the original, did Dors die?
Looking forward to the next one...
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