Book Review: Foundation by Isaac Asimov

Title: Foundation

Author: Isaac Asimov

Publish Date: 1991

Publisher: Bantam Books

Type: Novel

Genre: Science Fiction

Sub-Genre: Technology, Alt. Societies

Plot Summary:

Hari Seldon was the founder of the Foundation, placed in the periphery of a twelve thousand year old Galactic Empire that was slowly deteriorating. Bounded by kingdoms that are set on dominating the area, the newly formed Foundation must find a way to protect itself against being taken over by any of the nearby forces.

Hari set up the Foundation to help rebuild mankind after the Empire’s fall, by saving knowledge and preserving it in an encyclopedia. That meant no warriors, only scientists, leaving them without a way to defend themselves from Barbarism.

But Hari had a plan. He discovered and refined a new science based on mass psychology, and on historic trends called Psychohistory. With it, he could almost ‘see’ into the future and predict events to come many years away. With this new science, Hari found a way to rebuild civilization after the Empire is gone. That is, if the Foundation survives.

Description:

Hari Seldon was a mathematician on his home planet and discovered a way that could predict general trends that a mass of people would follow in the future. He called it ‘Psychohistory’. Many years later, he was considered a threat by the Empire, so he maneuvered his way to having his entire staff moved out of harm’s way, to a planet named Terminus, at the edge of the galaxy.

He had his staff working on an Encyclopedia to record all of the knowledge accumulated by mankind up to that point, and when the suspicions of the Empire began investigating of his actions, he was able to use the Encyclopedia as his cover. But they didn’t trust Hari or his staff, all 100,000 of them, so the Empire put them as far away as they possibly could, Terminus.

Hari predicted a series of crises that would befall the Foundation and kept his predictions hidden from them by ensuring that there were no members with psychology or mathematics training. For them to be able to figure out his predictions would damage his plan by introducing new variables.

The Foundation sits on a planet, devoid of heavy metals, forcing them to rely on others for imports and growth. With no means to build up weapons of defense, as the aggressive neighbors begin to look at Terminus as a new addition to their own possessions, the Foundationers must ward off the attacks with various methods from a ‘balance of power’ to religion.

But the ‘religion’ was no true religion; it was the force of nuclear power!

Appraisal

This book was originally the first of the Author’s “Foundation Series’ and as such, it gives enough details to allow you to understand the reasons for the creation of the Foundation in the first place.

Matador Series: The 97th Step book review

Appraisal

Taking the life of a character from childhood through old age can be a daunting task in just a short 290 pages, but the author did manage to capture Ferret’s life to where you remember the events that he went through, many in vivid detail.

The presentation of these events, treated as a kind of “flashback chapter” is somewhat disconcerting at times, and could have been handled a little more smoothly in the transitions between them.

There are many encounters between all the characters and the author chose to describe them without much detail allowing you to fill in the blanks and it was more effective and smooth than what other authors have done.

The overall story, if you take it that way, was good and if there is a sequel, it would be a worthwhile read. These were definitely some elements that the author could have improved upon such as location and surroundings development, but with so few pages, perhaps there wasn’t enough room.

If you get an opportunity, take a look at this novel. It is worth your time.

Pros

The character development by the author is colorfully done with significant attention given to the physical appearance and background of the major players in the novel.

All of the romantic and physical encounters between the characters are portrayed tactfully and obliquely, and leaves you with the understanding that there has been an involvement between them.

The story flow is even and consistent allowing the readers to follow the action easily and not get lost in frivolous side stories.

Cons

The author jumps around in the storyline quite a bit, which normally isn’t that big of an issue. But, when the story spans over 45 years, it gets a little confusing at times, but to be fair, only for a moment until you get oriented to whichever point in the timeline you have been taken to.

The novel has four distinct time frames for the main character. Him at sixteen, running away from an abusive father, five years later with a close friend, ten years after that when he’s with a beautiful woman and partner named Stoll, and then 5 to 25 years later where he becomes a trainee, then active member of a religious faction.

The author jumps around from later timelines seemingly to explain Ferret’s current actions from what occurred in his past. It did help with understanding the events, but the initial jump sometimes felt like a different story was beginning.

There were many errors in editing where words were left out of sentences, which causes you to stop reading to determine what is meant.

At first, it seemed like it was done to give Ferret some local color, but then it started happening in the narrative too. From an otherwise okay novel, the editing was disappointing. Fortunately, we didn’t encounter any spelling errors…

The 97th Step: Steve Perry bestselling author

Title: The 97th Step

Author: Steve Perry

Publish Date: 1989

Publisher: Ace Books

Type: Novel

Genre: Sci-Fi

Sub-Genre: Alternate Societies, Romance, Religion, Advanced, Medical, Advanced Technology, Advanced Weapons, Rebellion, Crime, Spaceships, Space Travel, Sexuality, Extra Sensory Perception, Galactic Empires, Armed Conflict

Plot Summary:

Mwili Kalamu was born into a poor, religious life on Cibule, a moon orbiting Kalk. At 16 years old, his daily beatings from his father were too much to take anymore, forcing him to run away and into the arms of the first officer of a freighter outbound to a different world.

He learned fast how to use what he had to obtain what he needed and learn how to make a living as a thief. He learned quickly and with his self-given alias of “Ferret”, he rapidly rose to be known as trustworthy and knowledgeable.

For ten years, he ran with Stoll, as partners at first, then as friends. Together they made themselves a reputation of being able to get their contracts done, without fail. And now they have a job that will set them both well enough off to retire. But Ferret’s girlfriend has a bad feeling about this and wants them to call off the job.

Everything was set and it was going like clockwork. Stoll and Ferrett were in the final room of their target when Ferrett got his bad feelings. He told Stoll and they both felt something was wrong. They opened up the door to leave, only to discover that their feelings might have been right after all…

Description:

Sarli Vu Ndamase is extremely beautiful, skin tawny, blue eyes, jet black hair, arms, legs and backside clean and perfect. She can have any man she wants, and they all want her. But the one she does desire is Ferret – a runaway from a backwater moon and thief – and she loves him.

Ferret left his home fifteen years ago and has been with his partner and friend Stoll for the last ten of those years. They were good at what they did, and had the underground connections to help them with background and mark details. A bribe here, missing documents there, they had it good.

Now, Stoll comes to Ferrett with a huge score. A simple jewelry heist, with even the cops bought off to gain time to escape the scene. This will set them for life and Ferret can be with Shar for the rest of their lives. But Shar has a bad feeling about the caper, pleading with Ferret to walk away. A kiss… and he leaves with Stoll.

As the heist progresses, it goes smoothly. Everything falling into place until Ferret gets his own queasy stomach. He feels something isn’t right. He and Stoll talk briefly and decide they’ve got enough and they head for the door. Moments later, Stoll is on the floor in front of him with blood pooling, and the door is being shattered by bullets. Something is wrong.

As Ferret leaps from the balcony, a voice from his past calls out to him, threatening revenge. He’d been found! And now, he had been set up, and Stoll is dead. But, if the past has caught up to him here, what about Shar?

Yes, what about Shar…?

Feminist science fiction novel by Joan Slonczewski

Title: A Door into Ocean (Elysium Cycle)

Author: Jean Slonczewski

Publish Date: 1986

Publisher: Tom Doherty Associates

Type: Novel

Genre: Science Fiction

Sub-Genre: Parthenogenesis, Armed Conflict, Alternate Societies, Alien Worlds, Starships, Space Travel, Advanced Medicine, Romance, Robots, Viruses, Galactic Empires, Martial Law

Plot Summary:

Spinel is a commoner; a stonecutter’s son. He has yet to obtain a sponsor to earn his ability to apply a trade. So he wanders as a beggar does in the market where he spies a pair of strange women, whose homes are on the distant Ocean Moon.

In a short conversation with them, the leader of the two, Merwen, made a decision that would forever change Spinel’s life. He was asked to return to the Ocean Moon via starship to learn of the ocean and teach them of this stone moon.

After arrival, Spinel soon discovers that this new world of only ocean was far from what he expected it to be. And Merwen’s daughter, Lystra, was appalled that her mother would bring back a male freak to live among the all-female population of Shora.

Soon it becomes evident that the world of stone, called Valen, wanted more of Shora than the women they were willing to lose.

And now Spinel is in the middle of his home world and that of the ocean world that asked him to join their way of life.

Description:

Shora is a planet of wonders. Its inhabitants are humans, evolved of the centuries to survive on a fully ocean-covered planet. They have evolved beyond the need for males, and only females are born to the parthenogenic beings known as Sharers.

Spinel is the son of a stonecutter on Valen, but he still hasn’t decided where he wants to go to learn a trade. And then he encounters two women Sharers from Shora and he begins a journey to their home to learn their ways, and share his new knowledge with them.

Shora holds many dreams for the people of Valen; sea silks, medicines, and abundant fish. To a world of stone, these are irresistible, and they crave that which they do not have. So, traders are sent to Shora with Valen goods to barter for the wonders of Shora.

But the traders go too far where they rape the Sharers and their families of their virtue and their livelihood. And, when the Sharers rebel by ignoring the traders, the military steps in to take control of the situation; martial law is declared and the first prisoners are taken by the soldiers.

The Sharers respond by ignoring the soldiers. As the Sharers prolong their silence, the soldiers become unglued… agitated. And a wholesale attack on the unarmed women and children of Shora begins.

One lone Sharer, Merwen, has confidence that continued unspeaking will resolve the conflict. All the while, her fellow sharers are dying each day by the hundreds.