Foundation's Edge

Foundation's Edge - Isaac Asimov This is the fourth in a series after a lapse of decades when it was the established Foundation Trilogy. Although there's enough given here for this to stand alone--at least that I didn't feel a need to brush up and reread--it would be a mistake to read this first. A lot of its pleasures is watching Asimov not only use the material of the previous trilogy, but weaving in this Robot universe and other stand alone novels--even the standalone The End of Eternity gets a nod here. Generally, I think Asimov is strongest in his short stories, not his novels. He's not the kind of writer that impresses with lovely prose, nor is his strength in creating appealing, memorable or complex characters--with few exceptions. As an Asimov fan to discuss his books, and what would get discussed are the ideas, the plot--rarely the characters, if you can even remember the names. That was very evident to me in the first half of the book, which seemed lackluster to me. People talk to each other--endlessly--in unnatural ways. Yes, we have infodump. But it is, at least, interesting, lucidly explained infodump. And half way, the book finally took fire for me. It's not that the characters gained in interest--I finished rereading the book yesterday and I've already forgotten their names. But the ideas are first-rate, even though I'm not particularly sympathetic to Asimov's worldview; he favors a very planned, centrally run future--and this is no exception in the alternatives seen for humanity's future. But he has a gift for setting you to thinking that makes him worth reading.