Foundation and Earth

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Golan Trevize, Asimov’s hero, has decided that Galaxia, a planet where all things are unified mentally, will be the world of the future. To discover why, he sets out with his longtime friend, psycho-historian Janov Pelorat, and Pelorat’s beautiful companion Bliss, to find the Earth of twenty thousand years ago.

Their quest takes them to six planets: Comporellon, where Trevize encounters the lovely Minister of Transportation, Mitza Lizalor, who attempts to seize Trevize’s spaceship, the Far Star; Aurora, a bleak world where Asimov’s hero confronts a pack of wild dogs; Solaria, where Sarton Bander, a hermaphrodite, proudly shows the trio his estate before deciding to kill them; Melpomenia, a planet which nurtures a repulsive green moss that thrives on CO2; Alpha, where the half-naked inhabitants control the weather on their paradisaical island; and finally, Earth.

Yet, for all these provocative elements, the novel remains inert. Characters are established but not allowed to develop. Trevize’s exchange with Mitza Lizalor, for example, fairly crackles as the two struggle over the fate of Trevize’s vessel, but the scene collapses into sexual high jinks. On Solaria, the trio encounter Sarton Bander, perhaps the novel’s most fascinating figure, a character that could have been drawn from television’s LIFESTYLES OF THE RICH AND FAMOUS.

Rapacious, arrogant, willful, Bander bristles with creative possibilities, but the author dispenses with him before he can emerge. The moments on Aurora and Melpomenia, on the other hand, seem routine, even hackneyed.

In conclusion, one reads FOUNDATION AND EARTH, waiting for it to ignite, but, regrettably, for a space saga spanning the entire universe, the novel simply does not take off.