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Foundation's Fear

(Second Foundation Trilogy #1)

3.85  ·  Rating details ·  11,807 ratings  ·  152 reviews
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 Empe
Mass Market Paperback, 608 pages
Published November 2000 by Eos (first published 1997)
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Average rating 3.85  · 
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 ·  11,807 ratings  ·  152 reviews

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Jun 18, 2011 rated it liked it
This first entry into the Foundation (2) Trilogy by other authors is a mess. I would not have finished it except that I wanted to read the additional entries in the series. I had read reader reviews before I started this book, so I was prepared for it to have problems.

There are three major strands in the story. One is the attempt by the Emperor to nominate Hari as first minister. Cleon knows of Hari's work on psycohistory. This story winds its way through the 578 pages and is a relatively cogent
Sep 13, 2008 rated it did not like it
Shelves: pans, 2008-read
So it took me over a month to get through this disaster of a book, and I ended up skimming some of it just to get through it. If you haven't read the original Foundation books, SPOILER ahead.

The entire reason this book exists is to show, in detail, Seldon's ascent from academian to First Minister. There was an almost-interesting sidebar about how another species helped him form his theory of psychohistory. All in all, not a book worth reading.

The first part of the book starts out good: it's remi
Peter Hutkins
Jun 29, 2012 rated it it was ok

"is not canon"

This book is written in a much different tone than that of Asimov's, and that takes a toll on the feel. By taking the Empire and Robot legacies and projecting onto it, I think Benford creates a distraction from the Asimov universe, not a development or refinement. It leaves me with the same slightly-betrayed feeling as if Turner Classic Movies produced a colorized spinoff called "Casablanca: the Paris years".

This book contains complicated mishmashes of ideas and philosophical tre
Daniel McGill
Aug 04, 2011 rated it did not like it
How can you write a tribute to one of the greatest works of science fiction by one of the greatest science fiction authors and start out by throwing his physics out the window and replacing them with your own? Don't bother reading this one. ...more
Jan 15, 2010 rated it it was ok
Benford was given a tough task: trying to flesh out Hari Seldon's conception of psychohistory. Benford's answer is the scientist propaganda of our day: that humanity can be understood more deeply by looking at our simian ancestors. Benford did wrestle somewhat admirably with the idea of the self as a self-organizing, emergent property of the complexity of the brain and with emotions as endemic to all animals.
However, Benford is not a very good writer, there were several times when I was simply
Feb 19, 2013 rated it really liked it
I had not even known about the second Foundation trilogy until last month, when I became an instant fan of the author of the third book in the set — so much so that I purchased that third book after reading complementary comments about it about the Internet, but it occurred to me that it made no sense to read the third book in a trilogy before reading the preceding two, so I sought this one out at the library, despite the fact that I had noticed many of those reviewing comments expressing praise ...more
Jul 17, 2008 rated it it was ok
Shelves: unsorted
The original series was so much better. I don't know what I don't like about this one: lack of action? or is it the things that the author introduces into this series: like computers, the Mesh, simulations, the theory of psychohistory... meh. don't know if I should keep on with the next books in this trilogy. ...more
Jul 04, 2016 rated it it was ok
I was re-reading this book, as part of re-reading all of the Robot, Empire, and Foundation books in in-universe chronological order and this is the first time I felt like just stopping where I was. I hemmed and hawed about whether to include these non-Asimov books in the re-read, and I kind of wish I had decided against it, but I recall thinking more positively of the other books in its series, so... We'll see.

Mostly the problem with this book is the Joan of Arc and Voltaire sims. Endless stream
Apr 11, 2017 rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Meng Tan
Jun 30, 2020 rated it it was ok
I found this to be a really hard slog, with thoroughly turgid writing at times. Lots of science for the hard sci-fi fans (AI, existentialism, astrophysics) and yet I felt the story became lost in the technical details at the expense of exploring the human condition. Benford admit that he took on this project with reservations, and furthermore that he did not try to emulate Asimov's writing style, and I respect him for that, but also commiserate with those fans who were hoping for more Asimov. I ...more
Tim Weakley
I really failed to get into this book. I understand that Benford wasn't trying to duplicate Asimov's style. It's just that as a work in this series it didn't grab me or add into the arc of the story. The entire aspect of the sims of Voltaire and Joan of Arc was not to my taste. The portrayal of Seldon and Daneel did not live up to the other books in the series even with a large gift of creative room for the author on the part of the reader.

Maybe the other "extar books" will be better.
Jul 30, 2011 rated it did not like it
Terrible continuation of the Foundation series. What was the point of this book? I'm still wondering months later. There are so many boring side discussions that have no relevance that I found myself skimming towards the end. The plot never really develops, and although I liked the ending, it left me wondering why Hari didn't just make it happen 400 pages earlier. Thoroughly unenjoyable, even to a big Foundation fan. I hear that the next two (Chaos and Triumph) are good though. ...more
Apr 22, 2013 rated it it was ok
The Seldon sections are pretty decent, but the entire Joan/Voltaire thing is unreadable drivel - my enjoyment of the book increased significantly around 75% in, after I just started skipping all the pieces about them, and I only wish I did this starting with page 1.
Chaz Wyman
Aug 24, 2020 rated it did not like it
I've read 27 pages of this so far and I'm annoyed. For a man claiming to be a scientist Benford mis represents "evolution" early on as a cause rather than an effect of change; common enough so no biggy But where does he get off with this word "Mathist". Whilst I can accept that new words appear, the lack of continuity is disconcerting. Having re-read "Prelude to F" and "Forward the F", where Seldon et al use "mathematician", never the ugly Mathist, to find that appear between the narratives of t ...more
Jun 30, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: fans of the Foundation books
Shelves: science-fiction
I've never ready any Greg Benford, so I didn't know what to expect. I found that Greg Benford does not write like Asimov. I also found that that doesn't matter.

If you're a fan of Asimov's Foundation series, as I have been since I first read it in high school, you will enjoy this book. It tells the story of how Hari Seldon came to be First Minister of the Empire. There is a lot of interaction between Hari and Dors, which I enjoyed. Bear writes with a playfulness that works well with the story. A
Apr 23, 2018 rated it did not like it
Had to finish after more-less third of it, because it was so boring...
Author is introducing new things that do not fit to existing universe.
Writing style is chaotic (although ideas may be interesting) and filled with technical language, that feels not justified by the plot.
Steve Eckroad
A Welcome Addition to Asimov Arcana - But, Wordy

Succeeds in answering questions about Asimov’s SF world, like what about aliens and where do computers come in. The Voltaire / Joan subplot is both interesting and very confusing at the same time, but finally redeems itself. The role, even the identity of the alien minds (meme-minds), is never clear until the very end and then even just barely. Distinctions between the Tik-toks and the meme minds, and their interactions with the sims are are not we
Eoghann Irving
Mar 21, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
I approached this book with considerable trepidation. I'm a big fan of Asimov's original Foundation Trilogy but was not overly impressed by his later additions to the series like Foundation's Edge where he attempted to tie the Foundation stories in with his robot stories.

So, knowing that this book took place prior to the setting up of the Foundations, that it featured robots and that it was written not by Asimov (for obvious reasons) but by Gregory Benford, who's books I had never read…..

I was,
Sorin Gheorghe
Jan 12, 2019 rated it liked it
As a stand alone it would've been a nice one. But seen it as a continuation of Asimov's work it disappoints. Not only in writing style (I miss the simple, flowing and light style of Asimov) but it presents a much more complicated universe, technology far more advanced although it was the same era, and -what irked me the most- some characters' personality was altered, some traits that Asimov hasn't bestowed on them. And the impression that the author wanted to be sure of writing a good one, to im ...more
Sep 29, 2017 rated it it was ok
Just having Foundation in the title can send chills down my spine in anticipation. Unfortunately, Benford seems constrained when writing in Asimov's universe. His strengths are when he moves away from the Trantor created universe. His weaknesses are trying to work with The Empire. Sometimes I enjoy Benford's hard science -- but in a Foundation novel? It just doesn't work, and isn't comfortable to read. Thank goodness the reviews for the next 2 prequels are much stronger -- its the only thing mot ...more
Woody Woodbury
May 13, 2018 rated it it was ok
Disappointed- I feel that the editor failed to do their job of cutting uninteresting spurious sections of the authors manuscript. This rambled between the story and other stuff which I’m sure the author felt was relevant but really wasn’t. This book should have been half the length and dealt with Hari as a person and his development of psychohistory. I kept wondering when he was going to figure it out but by the time he did the book was over. Foundation deserved better.
Gayla Bassham
For me, this book was to Asimov's Foundation what the J. J. Abrams reboots are to Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. And I found the Hari Seldon depicted here unrecognizable. (I feel bad because I am sure that this was a passion project for the three authors involved in this trilogy. I have enjoyed short fiction by all three of them. But Asimov's Foundation series is close to my heart and this just didn't work for m.e) ...more
Mark Rabideau
Jan 14, 2019 rated it liked it
Not a bad book, but not a really good one either. I guess my expectations were for something more powerful, along the lines of Asimov's later Foundation novels. The story line was odd and nearly insightful. Sadly, the final plot twist seemed inconsistent with certain of the characters.

I'll read the two additional follow-on "Foundation" novels for comparison purposes. We'll see what comes of that.
Aki Ranin

The main problem is that the ambition was low. It doesn’t extend the main storyline but adds color. But in fulfilling this minor task it compromises key elements of the entire series: mainly aliens and that Seldon knew Dors was a robot.

Further: Voltaire, Joan, pans. Just felt a little out of genre for the Foundation world.

Summary: adds little to nothing, yet manages to dilute the series. Just unnecessary.
Aug 23, 2017 rated it did not like it
I enjoyed all of Empire and Robot stories that Asimov wrote over many years. When I found Foundations Fear, I had high hopes but did not like it.

For years, my memory of how bad this book caused me to not continue the series. I finally decided to give Foundation and Chaos a chance. I'm glad I did. If you've read the Asimov stories, skip this book and start with Foundation and Chaos.
Oct 06, 2008 rated it it was ok
Shelves: sci-fi-fantasy
There were so many good ideas in this book, but I couldn't get interested in the plot until I was nearly 3/4 of the way done...then i stayed up all night to finish it. ...more
Nov 19, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: light-reading, usa
amazingly true to the brand and to the original author. asimover than asimov.
Bruce Jones
Jun 19, 2011 rated it really liked it
Benford leads the trilogy with a smart, philosophic close look at Hari Seldon and the robots that make crucial moves in the Foundation era.
Oct 16, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I had to decrease my rating after checking a little detail about which this book made me uncertain. What the heck is wrong with Benford? I can almost understand (but not approve of) that he felt the need to bring Asimov's universe up to date, technologically-wise. But why have the character of Dors perform self-maintenance under Hari's eyes, when Asimov clearly stated that Hari is not aware of Dors' true nature (albeit he clearly suspects) until she "dies" in "Prelude To Foundation"? And
Feb 27, 2021 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
After Asimov's death, his wife and estate contacted several prominent sci-fi authors of the late 1990s and asked them to write some interstitial novels to fill in some details of certain periods of the Foundation saga that Asimov had left unfleshed out. This is the first of those novels.

Benford's tale takes place in the period immediately preceding mathist Hari Seldon's ascension to the post of First Minister of the Empire under Emperor Cleon. It details his continuing work on the discipline of
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Gregory Benford is an American science fiction author and astrophysicist who is on the faculty of the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of California, Irvine.

As a science fiction author, Benford is best known for the Galactic Center Saga novels, beginning with In the Ocean of Night (1977). This series postulates a galaxy in which sentient organic life is in constant warfare wit

Other books in the series

Second Foundation Trilogy (3 books)
  • Foundation and Chaos (Second Foundation Trilogy #2)
  • Foundation's Triumph (Second Foundation Trilogy #3)

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“Human life is a voyage on a sea of meaning, not a net of information.” 3 likes
“Yet how could the Empire possibly have kept itself stable, using such crude creatures as humans?” 2 likes
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