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Forward the Foundation

posted on July 22, 2021

As with Prelude to Foundation, Asimov continues to lay the foundation groundwork for all of the Empire books to come. This time the final focus is on the development of the mentalics process that becomes the key to the success of the Second Foundation. The ability to read and influence minds is the final puzzle piece that opens the door to the implementation of the Seldon Plan. It’s here that Asimov will stretch real science to the breaking point. As if telepathy and being able to influence the minds of others isn’t leap enough at this point, it will eventually be stretched (and I do mean stretched) by allowing it to happen over parsecs of space. As we all know, with great power comes great responsibility, and Asimov will prove to be masterful and judicious in its application.

I’ve mentioned before in the reading of the earlier books in this biblical march through the oeuvre how I find that my perception of them changes on the second reading. Always it seems, for the better. It’s surprise how differently I see some of them on the second pass. I’ve wondered what I could chalk this up to, but, in this particular case, I know exactly what has changed. As the last chronological book that he wrote for this series, Asimov was writing from the perspective of an old man. Reading it now in my still youthful old age, I can pick up on the large and small losses he writes about that age affords as a natural consequence. He writes from the experience that he knows, and, if you’ve followed him for a lifetime as I have, his humanity touches you as distinctly now as it did in your youth. This subtext that runs under his fascinating science speculation and storytelling is part of the glue that he employs to bond with his readers.