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Foundation and Empire, Group Read Part 1

Posted on the 31 January 2012 by Jimblack78
Foundation and Empire, Group Read Part 1
I am behind schedule for the first section of the group read of “Foundation and Empire”.  Hopefully, I will be able to finish the book this week and be ready for the Sunday posting that wraps up this read.  Please take the time to read the rest of the groups comments.  I will be leaving comments on their sites this week.

1.  In the opening chapters of Foundation and Empire we get to see things from the Imperial side.  What are your thoughts on this part of the book?  Were you surprised to find parts of the Galactic Empire that still seemed to be thriving?  Yes.  Based on the events that occurred in “Foundation” it seemed like the Empire was pretty much finished.  The direction the series was taking implied that the second book would be an after the fall of the Empire story.  When I first read this book in the seventies, I thought the Empire would be a fond memory that would have become romanticized by the time of the second book.  From the opening section of “Foundation and Empire” Asimov makes it obvious that this is a last ditch effort by the Empire to take control and prove Seldon wrong.  It was a good direction to take with the story by giving us the Empire’s point of view.  This makes the Foundation seem more mysterious.
2.  The examination of psychohistory continues in this book.  What are your thoughts about the statement that was made: "Seldon's laws help those who help themselves" in light of our previous discussions about Seldon, his predictions, and the interaction of the individuals that we are exposed to in the story?  Seldon’s predictions give the general overview of what will happen.  Asimov has stressed that Seldon was not able to predict an individual’s actions.  What this does is show the situation and the outcome.  It leaves the door open for individuals to step up and fill a role in the Plan.  Which individual will fulfill that role?  Seldon had no clue.  What he was able to predict was that an individual will perform the action that needs done.  So I have no problem with the comment “Seldon’s laws help those who help themselves”.  The person who fills the role will be helping themselves.
3.  How do you feel about Devers, Barr and Bel Riose?  Did you like this section of the book and/or these characters?  Was there anything about their stories that stood out to you, entertained you, annoyed you?  I thought it was an interesting change of pace for the story.  Bel Riose, which seems like a different version of grand dios, is a fascinating focal point.  How many stories have we read where a young military man with old school passions rises through the ranks to save humanity?  The Good Doctor threw in the twist that he was doomed from the start.  Barr was obviously heavily influenced by his family’s previous interaction with the Foundation.  I liked it when Asimov ties this story in to events that happened in “Foundation”.  Devers reactions are classic.  The way he is not even worried about an invasion from the old Empire caught Riose off guard.  Devers comments about the Traders being even better off if the Empire conquers the Foundation had to work on Riose’s mind.  I will finish answering this question next week.  The part of the story I am at now is where Devers and Barr are talking in their living quarters.
4.  Perhaps continuing from Question 2, do you agree or disagree, and what are your thoughts on, Barr's devotion to Seldon and his belief that the "dead hand of Seldon" was guiding the events that led up to Riose's undoing.  After the events of the first book, it became apparent to Barr’s world that the Foundation was an unstoppable force.  No matter what they would do, the Foundation could calmly counter it and end up on top of the situation.  So, rather than fighting a force they could not comprehend, his family chose to embrace it.  Too many people end up spending their life opposing something that they can never defeat.  Barr is a realist.
Later this year, I will be doing a “Dominic Flandry” reading project.  It will be interesting to see how this fall of the Empire compares to Poul Anderson’s fall of the empire.  I will be announcing it ahead of time if anyone wants to join me.

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