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Isaac Asimov's Foundation Trilogy is one of the high-water marks of science fiction. It is the monumental story of a Galactic Empire in decline, and the secret society of scientists who seek to shorten the inevitable Dark Age with the science of psychohistory. Now, with the permission -- and blessing -- of the Asimov estate, the epic saga continues.
Fate -- and a cruel Emperor's arbitrary power -- have thrust Hari Seldon into the First Ministership of the Empire against his will. As the story opens, Hari is about to leave his quiet professorship and take on the all but impossible task of administering 25 million inhabited worlds from the all-steel planet of Trantor. With the help of his beautiful bio-engineered "wife" Dors and his alien companion Yugo, Seldon is still developing the science that will transform history, never dreaming that it will ultimately pit him against future history's most awesome threat.
Set thousands of years in the future, this novel begins the Second Foundation Trilogy, a prequel to Isaac Asimov's famous original (1951-1953) about the waning centuries of a galactic empire. The story opens with Hari Seldon, the protagonist of the Asimov series and discoverer of psychohistory, learning that his prospects of being appointed First Minister of the Empire are interfering with his research and spawning a horde of enemies. He and his humanlike robot wife, Dors, must flee, undergoing an enlightening but perilous adventure as their minds are transferred into the bodies of primates on a distant planet. Meanwhile, computer simulations of the minds of Voltaire (supremely skeptical) and Joan of Arc (supremely faithful) take on lives of their own and discover a potentially catastrophic computer virus planted by aliens who themselves exist only as electronic memories. Benford (Sailing Bright Eternity) writes up to his usual high standard and excels in bringing Asimovian concepts such as the planet-wide Imperial capital city on Trantor to vivid, visually compelling life. This novel stands well on its own, but much of its readership likely will be followers of Asimov's Foundation tales. To them, a warning is due: the next novel in the trilogy will be written by Greg Bear; the third, by David Brin. Will authors of such high caliber necessarily pull so much Asimov out of the Foundation that it will be no longer be his? The answer lies in the future, but, for now, this return to a touchstone of SF's Golden Age stands as a richly rewarding delight.