Sunday, January 29, 2012

Foundation and Empire Group Read, Part 1

Find more details and discussion on this group read at Stainless Steel Droppings.

So how about this cover, huh?  If I lived during Foundation times I would put it in some slot to be atomized.
Yesterday was my birthday (the last acceptable one), and along with doing Zumba, going out to lunch, seeing Wicked, going out to dinner, and opening presents, I finished reading the first half of Foundation and Empire.  A perfect day!

Here are this weeks questions, with Spoilers. 
1. In the opening chapters of Foundation and Empire we get to see things from the Imperial side. What are your thoughts on this part of the book? Were you surprised to find parts of the Galactic Empire that still seemed to be thriving? 

In the last book I didn't spend much time thinking about the Empire at all.  These first chapters were more eye-opening than surprising.  So much to think about in such a large galaxy!  I'm enjoying "zooming in" a bit.  
In the case of the Roman Empire, the east outlasted the west for many years, so I guess what's left of the Empire is like that.  It was also interesting to see how unaware Riose is of the Foundation and Hari Seldon and all of that, since we have been so engrossed in it.

2. The examination of psychohistory continues in this book. What are your thoughts about the statement that was made: "Seldon's laws help those who help themselves" in light of our previous discussions about Seldon, his predictions, and the interaction of the individuals that we are exposed to in the story?

I feel like Asimov is pretty repetitive in going over the aspects and predictions of psycho-history, and yet I still feel like it needs to sink in a little bit more for me.  This idea of individuals helping themselves is a good one to counter the feeling of being merely a pawn in the whole scheme of things.  But is it true, or just a comforting saying?  I think I would have more insight if I could pin down where this comes up in conversations, and apply it to some of the characters.  My brain is not up for such investigations today.

3. How do you feel about Devers, Barr and Bel Riose? Did you like this section of the book and/or these characters? Was there anything about their stories that stood out to you, entertained you, annoyed you?

I liked them all as rebels in their own realms.  I sometimes feel as though we're getting the same type of character repeated quite a bit between the books, but maybe that's by design.  Part of the pattern of psycho-history.  I have loved this part of the book, but the end of Part 1 was so abrupt.  All of a sudden the war was over in the blink of an eye.

4. Perhaps continuing from Question 2, do you agree or disagree, and what are your thoughts on, Barr's devotion to Seldon and his belief that the "dead hand of Seldon" was guiding the events that led up to Riose's undoing.

Well, my main thought on this was the the idea of the dead hand idea was creepy!  If I revered a guy, I would pick a more positive mental image.  I felt or sort of satisfaction for Barr that his faith was well-founded.

5. Did you think I was lying to you when I said in previous conversations that there are more female characters in books 2 and 3, LOL, since we didn't get to Bayta until near the end of this portion of the read?

Ha, ha!  I had faith.  I liked her portrayal overall, but since we've put this issue under a microscope, I will say that I was a little weirded out when her husband put his hand over her mouth to get her to stop talking.  I can see why he did it, but if someone did that to me I would surely bite them!

6. We haven't spent much time with them yet, but talk about your initial impressions of Toran and Bayta.

So far I like them, and I like seeing the events unfolding from the perspective of a married couple, especially as they have settled in a place where it doesn't sound like marriage is that common.  I'm jealous of their honeymoon!  At least until the clown shows up.  I like that we get to see some of Toran's insecurities, and how hard the confrontation was for him.

So nothing profound going on in this head, but I am enjoying this book even more than the first. 


  1. Seeing as I find the repetition helpful and I'm reading these one week after another, I would really need it if I had to wait long before the next installment.
    I will have to picture a romantic Tom Hanks moment when I think of that scene :) Maybe that's more of what Asmiov had in mind.

  2. I love the cover! Mine is pretty bland. I was also fascinated that the Empire didn't know much about the Foundation. I kept thinking how do they not know about Seldon and his prediction. I'm enjoying the comparison to the Roman Empire...if you don't know your history, you are doomed to repeat it.

    Sounds like a great Birthday! I love Wicked!

  3. Happy belated birthday!

    I hope the confrontation doesn't make Toran too many enemies; this Mule guy isn't going to like his authority being usurped like that.

  4. Your book cover this time is brilliant - I think you probably get the prize for the best and worst covers!
    I like your point about 'zooming in' it's really how it felt this time as we got to spend much more time reading about the stories involved.
    You sound like you had a great birthday.
    Lynn :D

  5. It also made me think how we can be pretty unaware of things going on in other parts of the world even though we can get that information so quickly these days. We can sometimes get wrapped up in our own lives.
    I'm glad you like the cover. I found this one worse than the other one. It kind of creeps me out. Naked woman, mule, old naked man, mean looks. Weird. But definitely not boring!

  6. Yes, I was very anxious during that situation!

  7. So funny! Like I said above, I thought this cover was worse than the other one.
    I hope we continue to zoom in. I'm rather enjoying it.

  8. I pretty much assume, though could be wrong, that the repetitive elements have a lot to do with the fact that the story was serialized, in essence, over a number of years in SFF magazines and I wonder how much of that was included to try to get readers up to speed if they had missed previous installments.

    The character repeats may be part of the design or may be simply because Asimov was cranking out stories and writing what worked. Since the stories are purportedly more about ideas than characterization it might have been taking the easy road not to vary characters too much from one to the other.

    The end of the first part was far too abrupt and way too conveniently wrapped up offstage. Thankfully there was more story to dive right into or it would have been very disappointing.

    Yes, the mouth thing could be dangerous! But of course it also brings to mind the scene in You've Got Mail where Tom Hanks puts his hand gently over Meg Ryan's mouth in what is actually a very loving gesture so that she won't continue down a road of things coming out of her mouth she will later regret and agonize over.

    I would like their vacation as well!

    Glad you are enjoying the book. I do think it is a nice step forward from the foundation of, er, Foundation.

  9. This sounds like a great book to read in a group, because there seems to be a lot going on, and one person alone might miss it!