This week marks the conclusion of the Second Foundation groupread (hosted by Carl from Stainless Steel Droppings). Time certainly has flown!
The following post/discussion will contain spoilers. I’ll be posting a spoiler-free review of Second Foundation later in the week for anyone who hasn’t been following along.
1. Now that the trilogy is over, discuss your feelings on Asimov’s portrayal of female characters?
Asimov did a pretty good job with his female characters. The first book in the trilogy didn’t have any relevant female characters, but the second two books made up for it. Bayta was awesome, and I found Arkady’s precociousness amusing. I was a bit sad though to learn that Arkady was a tool of the Second Foundation; I liked her better before I knew that. I was impressed that Asimov wrote Callia as a Second Foundation agent–it was something that I didn’t expect, especially since I thought that she was such a ditz at the beginning of this section.
2. After all the back and forth mind control of the first part of Second Foundation, what was your state of mind reading this second section of the book? Were you suspicious of everyone? Did you figure things out? Were you just going along for the ride?
I was just going along for the ride. I figured that the Second Foundation was up to something, but I was a bit disappointed when their plan succeeded. The more I see of the Second Foundation’s methods, the more I keep hoping that they will fail.
3. Throughout the three novels we were shown a couple of versions of Trantor. Which is more appealing to you? Which would you rather visit?
I’d like to have seen Trantor in its imperial glory. It’s interesting to see how the planet changes over the course of several hundred years. I like the way that the library is preserved despite the upheavals.
4. How have your thoughts about Hari Seldon, his plan, and either or both Foundations changed, or not, during the course of these three novels?
Seldon is a genius, but at the same time, his plan is gambling with real people’s lives. I don’t like the way that the Second Foundationers manipulate people; at least the Mule was honest about it when he did it.
5. What, if anything, surprised you in this last half of the book? How do you feel Second Foundation held up compared to the other two books in the trilogy?
I was surprised that the Second Foundation was located on Trantor. My guess was that it was on Terminus, so it was neat to see the additional twist. Second Foundation was my favorite book in the trilogy.
6. Did any themes stand out for you in this series? What are you taking away from the experience of reading the Foundation trilogy?
I enjoyed the way that Asimov’s characters blurred the line between good and evil. It was very realistic. I enjoyed seeing Seldon’s plan unfold, all the while questioning the role of the individual versus mob psychology. Even though Seldon’s plan doesn’t take individuals into account, each major Seldon crisis was addressed by an individual. By the end of Second Foundation, I’m wondering whether those individuals acted of their own free will or were merely puppets of the Second Foundation.
I loved reading the Foundation series with everyone! I probably wouldn’t have picked it out on my own, but I ended up enjoying it tremendously. It’s a great series, and I find myself wishing that Asimov would have completed it.