Just finished Second Foundation by Isaac Asimov, first published in 1953, and the third book in the Foundation series. As I predicted, this was a nice relaxing read after the heavy Neuromancer. Asimov gets a bit better at characters as the years go by, but nothing to raise an eyebrow at. Instead of the same stereotypical template repeated endlessly through the book, we have a variety of stereotypical templates. Though I admit I did find the characters much more entertaining than in previous two books.
Like Foundation and Empire, Second Foundation is two stories rolled into one. Unlike Foundation and Empire, these two stories have a common theme. One relates the Mule’s attempt to locate the Second Foundation, and the other relates the First Foundation’s attempt to locate the Second Foundation. While the First Foundation was composed of physical scientists, the Second Foundation was composed of mental scientists. The Second Foundation, kept hidden since its inception, is populated by mental superhumans who basically have the power to control minds. Through the Foundation’s history, the Second Foundation has been pulling the strings, ensuring that Hari Seldon’s plan is upheld. Threatened by the powers of the Second Foundation, the First Foundation begins to hunt them down to eliminate them.
Seeing the workings of the Second Foundation and more details of Hari Seldon’s plan make this book quite interesting. This is probably my favorite book of the series so far. I have high hopes for the next one because I think it won one of my preciousss Nebula/Hugo awards. I’ll probably switch gears again and read something else before heading back to the Foundation.