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on 3 June 2000
Brin's third book in this series was by far the best of the three, but I cannot help thinking that the whole endeavor was a mistake. Brin had a much greater appreciation, and knowledge of the previous Asimov writings and he kept(generally) within the framework of the Foundation/Robot writings. One glaring exception was his placement of the inception of the Gaia group on Eos 500 years before Foundation's Edge. According to Foundation's Edge (my favorite book in this series) and Foundation and Earth, Gaia was founded 12,000 years earlier by robot- accompanied refugees from Earth. A minor detail perhaps but it seemed to me that throughout this series the 3 B's played loose and fast with the "facts". All three books were very interesting and all three authors are excellent writers, however, it was perhaps a judgement error for them to get involved with this project. Benford was by far the worst, as he seemed to be making things up as he went along. Wormholes may be better science than hyperspace, but it isn't science alone, it's science fiction. A central tenet of Asimov's writings was that humans created robots and robots discovered hyperspace. Where these wormholes suddenly appeared from is a mystery and I am glad that Bear and Brin toned them out of importance. Greg Bear is a wonderful writer, but much too dark for this series. All in all the whole series was much too depressing. As any historien knows, 20 thousand years is enough for any civilization to completely have forgotten its past, why invent the amnesia theme? Personally I felt the Caliban series was much closer to the Asimov ethos. One idea I really liked of Brin's was that Hari Seldon's invention, his pride and joy, was the First Foundation alone. The Second Foundation and Gaia were forced on him. I hope Brin alone will continue these stories (and I hope he clears up the Gaia inconsistency).
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on 12 July 2012
There's no doubt this is a marvellously clever book. In this final volume of the Second Foundation Trilogy, Brin gets to deliver the goods on various storylines that Bedford and Bear had to be content with foreshadowing in previous volumes: what happened to the aliens in Asimov's galaxy; why galactic society has been static for so long; what's been going on with Seldon's "Chaos Worlds"; the relevance of childhood brain fever; the origins of Gaia; and the real origin (or perhaps not, Brin hints) of human mentalic talent. Not content with that, Brin indulges in a sort of frenzy of fixer-uppery, apparently seeking to explain every oddity in Asimov's original canon, and attempting to make almost everything in galactic history the work of R. Daneel Olivaw's secret robot cabal. In particular, connections are made with Asimov's three Empire novels, "Pebble in the Sky", "The Stars Like Dust" and "The Currents of Space"; with the events (centuries in Seldon's future) of "Foundation's Edge" and "Foundation and Earth"; with Roger MacBride Allen's authorized "Caliban" robot trilogy; and with an obscure early Asimov short story, "Blind Alley". There is a clever hint that all will not turn out according to Olivaw's master plan, which nods to the reader's awareness that the Encyclopedia Galactica will exist a thousand years after Seldon's death (because we've been reading extracts from that Encyclopedia at the chapter heads of the whole Foundation series). There's a set-up for more conflict to follow on from "Foundation and Earth", if anyone cares to write the story, and even a little bit of infrastructure put in place so that we might have an improbable means of encountering Hari Seldon again.

All this plays out during "one final adventure" in the last year of Hari Seldon's life, between the recording of his last message to the Foundation and his death. This requires a little judicious rejuvenation therapy from a previously unsuspected technology, so that Seldon can briefly leave the wheelchair we saw him in when he recorded his messages. And that's an example of the problem I had with this novel - there's so much stuff in it. Characters are constantly popping up in order to reveal some new plot element, teach each other some new thing, steer the story in a new direction, or to be revealed as more than what they at first appeared. New tech is introduced so that we can encounter even more new stuff which turns out to explain really old stuff. At first I was smiling and nodding at Brin's tricksy revelations; later, as revelation piled on revelation, the story seemed to turn into a parody of itself, and I began to suffer from a ramping fit of the giggles that didn't stop until I finished the book. Now I'm just uneasy: Brin's effort to knit Asimov's canon together leaves the original work feeling weak and patchy, simply because of all the extra things Brin forces into the story while trying to fix it up.

So five well-earned stars for cleverness, but a star deducted for pushing things so far as to become funny, and another star deducted for what is essentially an elaborate (though I'm sure unintentional) undermining of Asimov's original efforts.
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on 3 March 1999
It was pure delight to read the manuscript of this novel. With much of the action taking place in the deep past, with covering the last months of Hari Seldon's life and with a visionary glimpse of the future of the Foundations and Galaxia this book finally gives explanations to all the questions even Asimov shied from answering. Run and grab it!!!
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on 23 April 2012
Having read all the Asimov Foundation and Robot series and all three prequels/sequels, I think this is by far the best - the most Asimovian in the style of writing. Brin is excellent
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on 11 December 2012
I think this is even better than Asimov. More depth, certainly more expanse and scale. Writing style is not as childlike as Asimov's was in the foundadtion trilogy
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on 5 July 2016
A great read hard to put down.
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on 5 August 2015
OK
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