Ennngh. Between eight reviews and countless games of FreeCell, my right hand is cramping up badly. This is not an unfamiliar feeling for me, but it usually results from more fun activities. I have a goal to write at least half of the reviews, though, which means two more after this. Ennnnnnngggggghhhh.
Anyways, Foundation's Edge is the fourth book in the Foundation Trilogy, and things start getting really crazy in this one. All of a sudden there's this guy, Janov Pelorat, who's obsessed with finding the ancient "Earth," and Golan Trevize, who's obsessed with finding the Second Foundation. That's right, not everybody was fooled by their epic game of "if they know that we know and we can make them think that they know that we don't know..." Galactic affairs have been running too smoothly, and adhering too closely to Seldon's plan, to make sense, unless there was still an outside power, like the Second Foundation, controlling events.
The Mayor of Terminus, Harla Branno, sticks Trevize and Pelorat together in a state-of-the-art ship, and while publicly announcing Trevize's exile for being a shit-stirrer, secretly instructs them to search for the Second Foundation. That's right, Branno's no fool, either. She knows that they know that they knew...
She's also no fool in another respect - she can't trust Trevize to follow her orders, or to report back to her if he does find the Second Foundation, so she sends his ex-friend and betrayer, Compor, to spy on him and Pelorat. Pelorat tells Trevize about his life-long search for Earth, how it was the first planet, the original whence came all of humanity, and Trevize realizes that, hey, maybe that's where the Second Foundation is! So off to locate Earth they go.
In the Second Foundation on Trantor, which we finally get a clear picture of, Stor Gendibal is a mentalic shit-stirrer. He's examined the equations comprising the Seldon Plan, and he's looked at how off-track they were during the years of the Mule, and he's seen how closely and faithfully the equations have matched the original Plan since after the Mule's death. Suspicious. Things are proceeding too well, even taking into account the Second Foundation's attempts to control events. There must be a-NOTHER agency, even more super-secret, and even more powerful, controlling galactic affairs with better results than the Second Foundation alone could muster. This isn't good for them, because they don't want another group to swoop in at the end of the thousand years and take credit and control of the budding Galactic Empire: Part Deux.
Nobody believes Gendibal until one of the Trantorian farm-ladies is shown to have had her mind tampered with with such delicacy that none of the Second Foundationers could have possibly done it. It had to be the work of a group much more advanced in mentalics. Off Gendibal and Novi, the farm-lady, go, to find this group of "Anti-Mules," and also to find Trevize and throw him off the scent of the real Second Foundation. A Foundationer's work is never done.
Trevize and Pelorat are brushing up on their local legends about a mysterious planet in the Sayshell region. The people there call it Gaia, which is an alternate name for Earth in many myths, but they try not to think about it, because first of all it's probably not real anyways, and second of all, Gaia keeps crushing every military force that comes near it. That won't deter our intrepid travelers, and Trevize and Pelorat head off to Gaia, with Branno and Foundation warships on their trail (because of Compor's spying), as well as Gendibal (also because of Compor's spying. Surprise! He's a Second Foundation scout.).
Gaia turns out to be a funky, inter-connected world full of people, plants, and inanimate objects that share a consciousness. They have the ability to control and read their own and other people's thoughts, and they act like hippies in a commune, with even the walls having feelings. Who knows if this is "Earth," but it's definitely something. Their tour guide, Bliss, tells Trevize that Gaia has been manipulating events for years, all so that he would end up on the planet and be able to decide something once and for all: the future of the universe. Trevize has always had a unique ability to "know" the right choice, and Gaia wants him to use it to choose who should run the galaxy, whether it's the First Foundation, with its military might, the Second Foundation, with its mental control, or Gaia, with its... hippie superconsciousness thing.
Gendibal makes his decision, and everyone leaves happy, except for Trevize, who suspects that his pure quick-thinking might have been influenced in some way. I think he's still going to go search for Earth in the fifth of the trilogy. I want to read it.