Foundation and Chaos by Greg Bear

Foundation and Chaos book cover

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.

I never really liked the subplot with the sims and meme entities, and was glad to see that Greg Bear minimized their role as much as he could. Also, he worked worm holes out of the picture rather masterfully, however I’m not sure if Benford had planned this ahead of time or not. Either way, I think that adding worm holes was a mistake. Another significant difference is the smooth flow between plot lines, rather than spending up to 100 pages in one setting. I found myself plowing through this book faster than normal, as the action was always there or just around the corner. The last 100 pages, comprising one fourth of the total book, went by in a flash of constant action.

A main point that many others have noted as a flaw in this book is that this is more of a Robot novel rather than a Foundation novel. One of the main plot lines involves a battle between robots loyal to Daneel (Giskardians), and robots which reject the Zeroth Law (Calvinians). There is more dialogue between robots here than possibly every other Foundation novel combined. I enjoyed the Robot Series immensely, so this became one of my favorite books in my project written by someone other than Asimov.

The main story arc revolves around the preparation for Hari Seldon’s trial for treason. He has been brought up on charges for declaring that the Trantor will fail within 500 years, followed by the rest of the Galactic Empire. I’ve you’ve read Forward the Foundation or the original Foundation, you know Hari is cleared of all charges, and the Foundation project Encyclopedists are sent to Terminus to begin working on the Encyclopedia Galactica. This book goes behind the scenes to show exactly how this all came to be.

Lodovik Trema, a humaniform robot working for Daneel, turns out to be one of the more interesting characters in this book. The book opens with him on a rescue mission headed for a planet which is about to be destroyed by a supernova shockwave. Something goes wrong with the hyperspace Jump and they pop out in the middle of a concentrated neutrino wave. Somehow he feels different but doesn’t immediately know what is wrong. Plenty of interesting questions and situations revolve around this particular change.

I can’t really explain in words how much better this novel is than Foundation’s Fear. I think I will probably seek out other works by Greg Bear once my project is complete. I hope that the next novel will do the series as much justice as this one did.

1 thought on “Foundation and Chaos by Greg Bear”

  1. I would suggest Eon, The Forge of God, Blood Music, Moving Mars and Darwin’s Radio by Greg Bear

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Please prove you are a human * Time limit is exhausted. Please reload the CAPTCHA.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Related Post

Anathem by Neal Stephenson – Narrated by William DufrisAnathem by Neal Stephenson – Narrated by William Dufris

Book Cover

I usually prefer reading books, but I have about a 15 minute drive to work which over time adds up to a lot of wasted time listening to the radio. A few years ago I listened to Steven King’s Dark Tower series, which took me over a year of trips to work. After Robert Jordan died and his Wheel of Time series was finished up by Brandon Sanderson, I revisited the books I already read on audio as I didn’t want to dedicate reading time to catching up, then read the new ones. This time I wanted ONE book, not a series so I after some digging around I came across Anathem by Neal Stephenson. I’ve previously read Snow Crash, The Diamond Age, and Cryptonomicon. I really enjoyed Snow Crash and The Diamond Age, however Cryptonomicon was insanely long. I about half way through, I started to feel fatigued and found myself just looking forward to the end. Given the length of Anathem, I knew I didn’t really want to dedicate that amount of reading time to the book. I normally read about 15-20 minutes a day during my lunch break at work, so it would have taken forever for me to finish. The audiobook format seemed like a good fit. In the end, it took me about 2 months to make it through the 32 + hours. (more…)

Dune Messiah by Frank HerbertDune Messiah by Frank Herbert

Dune Messiah Book Cover

Frank Herbert continues his epic saga with Dune Messiah. Paul “Muad’Dib” Atreides has been Emperor for 12 years following the ending of the first novel when he took over. He has become a god figure, messiah, to the Fremen, which have ravaged the galaxy spreading their religion to countless worlds. Paul has not been able to prevent the jihad, but has been able to control it in a way.

I never wanted to be a god, he thought. I wanted only to disappear like a jewel of trace dew caught in the morning. I wanted to escape the angles and the damned—alone … as though by an oversight.

Princess Irulan continues to compile her histories, denied the physical attention of Paul. Chani and Paul have tried to conceive and heir, but have yet to be successful. It turns out that Irulan has been slipping a contraceptive into Chani’s food, hoping that Paul will give up and produce an heir with herself. (more…)

Brave New World by Aldous HuxleyBrave New World by Aldous Huxley

Book Cover

My wife was surprised that I had never read Brave New World. It seemed to her that this novel by Aldous Huxley was generally considered required reading in school. She ordered it for me along with 1984 by George Orwell, which by coincidence I haven’t read either. It seems that I somehow went to the wrong schools as a kid, and missed out on some classics. I’m trying to remedy this.

I wouldn’t really call Brave New World a sci-fi novel. It’s more of a criticism of utopian society. The setting is in London around 2540 AD, where society is broken down into castes. Human reproduction is done in a “hatchery” where babies are created in bottles and subjected to varying conditions in order to guide development into one of the five classes (Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, Epsilon). Aside from modifying biological factors, each child is “trained” with techniques ranging from aversion therapy to repeating phrases over and over when they sleep.