So things have picked up a bit. Quite a bit, to be honest. A plot has emerged, and is unfolding apace. At this point it has been revealed the intent and scope of the Earthling Government, though the details haven’t been fully revealed. However, there are still too many lectures, though there seems to be a pattern to the writing style.
When elite characters talk, even to one another, they still tend to lecture to one another. Any plot development is more like a schematic of a story rather than the story itself. There’s a conversation between the high minister of Earth and his secretary. There’s a discussion between the archeologist and the high minister.
On the other hand there’s a really good discussion, from a plot and character point of view, between Schwartz and the old farmer over a chess game. Now, there is a lot of hoopde-hoo about the chess game itself. It’s neat, in a sort of abstract way, that Asimov uses an actual high-end chess match as the background for this conversation. It signals seriousness of purpose that the author would put an element into a story which works for those knowledgeable about the element to unravel. However, it remains the case that thus far Asimov’s prose contains a lot of stilted interjections demonstrating either the intelligence of the author (or injecting that intelligence into the charaters) or making unnecessary clarifications of pronouns and antecedents (clarifications better made by revising the prose).
Nevertheless, the plot, as it is unfolding, is an interesting one, and the characters, when they’re allowed to breath without Asimov pushing them around with his descriptions of their actions, are sympathetic. I care about them, what’s going on, and what’s going to happen. I look forward to seeing what’s next.