The Second Foundation Trilogy is a venture initiated by Asimov’s Estate. Gregory Benford was approached to work on the project, and eventually Greg Bear and David Brin finished the series. I remember from my previous experience with Foundation’s Fear back in 2000 or so that I didn’t like it. I made a point of keeping track of details that bugged me throughout the novel so that I could provide some constructive criticism. I tried to do my best to keep an open mind, but it wasn’t long before I remembered why I didn’t like this novel. There will be minor spoilers, but hopefully they will help you save some time reading this 597 page (paperback) monster.
For those that read my previous review on Foundation’s Fear, you will be pleased to find that Greg Bear manages to save this series with his masterful work in Foundation and Chaos. If there were ever two books on the same subject that could be so different as to compare night and day, the first two parts of the Second Foundation Trilogy are it. While the first volume kept putting me to sleep with rambling on about simulated minds and aliens, Foundation and Chaos goes back to the roots more in line with the universe Asimov made me fall in love with.
David Brin does a good job of unifying the Robot and Foundation novels by explaining many of the contradictions which come up if we assume every book written so far is to be viewed as in the same universe. One of the nagging questions which bothered me while reading the series is, “How did 25 million worlds get settled in just 20,000 or so years?” Brin explains this and many other things throughout the novel. At some points it seemed that he was reaching very hard to explain every single little detail linking the other novels together. Overall the book was enjoyable, but I think that the last one was significantly better.