The Foundation Series by Isaac Asimov is one of the most famous of all science fiction stories of all time, but while it is a series that really does feel as if it has a strong coherence it has a major break both in time and in tone. Having been encouraged by his fans to return to the series Isaac Asimov wrote Foundation’s Edge thirty years after the other Foundation’s book. In addition, Asimov began to connect other series into the books while writing in a very similar style which includes a lot of people talking and discussing ideas.
Taking place about 500 years into the Seldon plan the mule has been destroyed and the Foundation believes that they have defeated the second foundation and are nearly as powerful as the empire was at its peak. Yet one of the Foundation’s senators sees a problem. They are not only on the Seldon plan but far too perfectly on the plan and that perfection shouldn’t be possible especially after the problems of the Mule. This suggests to him that someone is affecting the foundation and he suspects the second foundation was not destroyed.
By bringing this up though he upsets the leader of the foundation and is exiled at least in appearance and unable to actually search for the second foundation because then they would use their mental abilities to stop him. So, he is given an advanced ship and a historian who is searching for earth he begins to search for the second foundation. The second also has its own internal politics though and one of the most powerful of the leaders of that organization is also sent away due to politics creating a parallel between the two and making it clear that there is something else going on.
Connecting in the robot books and even the three laws of robotics into the foundation series is an interesting choice and one that could have worked out badly. But, Asimov is a great writer and he was able to connect the two in such a way that it really did feel right even if it wasn’t always easy. In addition there are a few other brilliant ideas. Gaia is perhaps the most interesting as you find out at the end of the story that there really is something unique about this place and using an idea that is common in science fiction in a different way. And just like Asimov was able to use robots in an interesting way when most others were using them only as monsters he also makes the ideas behind Gaia less scary and far more real at the same time.
It is almost impossible to talk about this book without discussing books which came both before and after it, except to say that while this will be better if you have read all of those stories you really can pick this up and enjoy the story without having read the others since almost everything that has happened before is at least partially explained and most of the characters are self contained in this book. Still if you want the full experience it is well worth beginning with the first of the foundation series or even some of the books such as the robot series which are excellent stories and thanks to these stories connected to this book.