Foundation's Fear by Gregory Benford
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
I'm of two minds on this book. If it had been a regular SF without following the dictates of someone else's worldbuilding, Asimov, or otherwise, it probably would have been a pretty interesting novel.
All on its own, it deftly handles many questions of human consciousness, from alien internets (at the time when we were just spreading our own internet), simulations of consciousness within computer systems, sharing consciousness with our close cousins (apes, through sim-nets), and the problem of consciousness with AIs.
It definitely has an older SF feel and is fun just for the science bits.
The story, however, is all tied up in knots around Hari Seldon, of Asimov's creation, and he is supposed to be creating the Prime Radiant and fulfilling the full promise of what the Foundation stands for -- reducing the dark age of the upcoming fall of the Galactic Empire.
All these disparate hypotheses and mix of real-science constraints that would have made up a tighter Prime Radiant might have been a great addition to the overall Foundation story -- IF it had been written better.
As it is, the novel kind of rambles, spending too much time on relatively unimportant characters or sims, overstays its welcome, and often just gets bogged down in half-formed nonsense that detracted from the actual decent science. It could have been half the size, keeping only the good shit, and I would have been really happy with getting a peek at Hari's middle years and hard work.
As it is here, I'm wondering why I wasted so much of my time when I already HAD a pretty good idea of what Psychohistory already WAS.
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