Extending the late Isaac Asimov's original Foundation Trilogy, this Second has each entry tackled by a different author (previously Gregory Benford's Foundation's Fear, 1997, and Greg Bear's Foundation and Chaos, not seen). Brin's wrap-up volume comes from the author of Heaven's Reach (1998), etc. Hari Seldon, the father of psychohistory, is old and ready to die. The main narrative strand, among others too numerous to mention—Brin often seems to be pursuing complication as an end in itself—is a plot, inspired by robots following their prime directive, to kidnap Seldon, temporarily rejuvenate him, and send him 500 years into the future in order to safeguard the Seldon Plan, which will revive galactic civilization after the collapse of the present empire. Some of the characters involved with the various plots, schemes, struggles, and conspiracies, are: Lodovic Trema, a robot unconstrained by robotic laws, free to act and react as any human; Seldon's robot wife, Dors Venabili; and Horis Antic, one of planet Trantor's Grey Man bureaucracy, curious about certain odd mathematical correlations. The prime mover in all this is the wise 20,000-year-old robot, Daneel Olivaw, who plans to create Galaxia, a galactic integrated intelligence that will safeguard human survival forever. Among the problems facing Daneel are chaos viruses that drive entire planets to madness, cyborgs, wars among robots, elusive pirate captains, and cunning aristocrats. Nobody's what they seem, and everybody's plotting against everybody else. The jury's still out. Was this enterprise a wonderful idea, brimming with possibilities? Or was it merely a sterile retrospective rewrite? Still, readers of the first two volumes, and fans of Asimov's original yarns come to that, will want to explore.
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