Second Foundation

by Isaac Asimov
Series: Foundation 3
Reviewed date: 2018 Jul 23
Rating: 4
191 pages
cover art
cover art

Second Foundation is the first Foundation book I remember reading, and it's my favorite. I didn't remember much about it, except that it featured a girl named Arkady. I distinctly remember a scene of her in a spaceport. She was running away (or had run away) and was talking to a rather stout man. I couldn't recall if the man was a friend or an enemy, and I wondered if perhaps I was mixing the story up with "I'm in Marsport Without Hilda," but no, I wasn't. It's all there.

The first story follows the Mule's search for the Second Foundation. He sends Han Pritcher and Bail Channis to ferret out the Second Foundation, and they locate it on Tazenda. Rather than approach directly, they go to Rossem, a minor vassal planet of Tazenda. Second Foundation agents are there, expecting them. Then the Mule shows up. There's a genuinely exciting standoff in a little room where everyone talks about stuff but hardly anybody actually does anything, in the way that only Asimov can write.

The Mule reveals his armada has already destroyed Tazenda. The Second Foundationer pretends to be devastated, but lets slip that Tazenda isn't the real location. The Second Foundation is on Rossem itself. Then the First Speaker of the Second Foundation shows up and reveals that no, Rossem isn't the location of the Second Foundation after all. Surprised, The Mule slips up, and that's the end--the First Speaker alters the Mule's mind, removing his power. The Mule is done, and the Second Foundation survives.

The second story is about Arcadia "Arkady" Darell, and the search for the Second Foundation. Again, the climax is a genuinely exciting scene where men sit in a small room talking. Again, the question is the location of the Second Foundation.

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