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Asimov’s Future History Volume 11

Isaac Asimov

  Asimov’s Future History

  Volume XI

  All stories copyright Isaac Asimov and the Estate of Isaac Asimov, unless otherwise noted below.

  All other stories copyright by the respective authors listed below.

  Robots and Empire-First published September, 1985

  Caliban-By Roger MacBride Allen. First published as Isaac Asimov's Caliban, March, 1993

  Inferno-By Roger MacBride Allen. First published as Isaac Asimov's Inferno, September, 1994

  This ePub edition v1.0 by Dead^Man March, 2011

  Layout and design by Dead^Man

  Cover art “Starship” by unknown.

  Future History inlay “Summer days” by Talros of DeviantArt

  Cover design by Dead^Man

  Chronology of events in Isaac Asimov’s positronic robot and Foundation stories, compiled by Johnny Pez.

  Table of Contents


  3630 AD Robots and Empire

  Part IV-Aurora

  11. The Old Leader

  12. The Plan And The Daughter

  13. The Telepathic Robot

  14. The Duel

  Part V-Earth

  15. The Holy World

  16. The City

  17. The Assassin

  18. The Zeroth Law

  19. Alone

  3730 AD Caliban


  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Chapter 7

  Chapter 8

  Chapter 9

  Chapter 10

  Chapter 11

  Chapter 12

  Chapter 13

  Chapter 14

  Chapter 15

  Chapter 16

  Chapter 17

  Chapter 18

  Chapter 19

  Chapter 20


  3731 AD Inferno


  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Sources of Dates

  Robots and Empire

  3630 A.D.

  Part IV-Aurora

  11. The Old Leader


  KELDEN AMADIRO WAS not immune from the human plague of memory. He was, in fact, more subject to it than most. In his case, moreover, the tenacity of memory had, as its accompaniment, a content unusual for the intensity of its deep and prolonged rage and frustration.

  All had been going so well for him twenty decades before. He was the founding head of the Robotics Institute (he was still the founding head) and for one flashing and triumphant moment it had seemed to him that he could not fail to achieve total control of the Council, smashing his great enemy, Han Fastolfe, and leaving him in helpless opposition.

  If he had – if he only had –

  (How he tried not to think of it and how his memory presented him with it, over and over again, as though it could never get enough of grief and despair.)

  If he had won out, Earth would have remained isolated and alone and he would have seen to it that Earth declined, decayed, and finally faded into dissolution. Why not? The short-lived people of a diseased, overcrowded world were better off dead – a hundred times better off dead than living the life they had forced themselves to lead.

  And the Spacer worlds, calm and secure, would then have expanded further. Fastolfe had always complained that the Spacers were too long – lived and too comfortable on their robotic cushions to be pioneers, but Amadiro would have proved him wrong.

  Yet Fastolfe had won out. At the moment of certain defeat, he had somehow, unbelievably, incredibly, reached into empty space, so to speak, and found victory in his grasp – plucked from nowhere.

  It was that Earthman, of course, Elijah Baley –

  But Amadiro’s otherwise uncomfortable memory always balked at the Earthman and turned away. He could not picture that face, hear that voice, remember that deed. The name was enough. Twenty centuries had not sufficed to dim the hatred he felt in the slightest – or to soften the pain he felt by an iota.

  And with Fastolfe in charge of policy, the miserable Earthmen had fled their corrupting planet and established themselves on world after world. The whirlwind of Earth’s progress dazed the Spacer worlds and forced them into frozen paralysis.

  How many times had Amadiro addressed the Council and pointed out that the Galaxy was slipping from Spacer fingers, that Aurora was watching blankly while world after world was being occupied by submen, that each year apathy was taking firmer hold of the Spacer spirit?

  “Rouse yourself,” he had called out. “Rouse yourself. See their numbers grow. See the Settler worlds multiply. What is it you wait for? To have them at your throats?”

  And always Fastolfe would answer in that soothing lullaby of a voice of his and the Aurorans and the other Spacers (always following Aurora’s lead, when Aurora chose not to lead) would settle back and return to their slumber.

  The obvious did not seem to touch them. The facts, the figures, the indisputable worsening of affairs from decade to decade left them unmoved. How was it possible to shout the truth at them so steadily, to have every prediction he made come to pass, and yet to have to watch a steady majority following Fastolfe like sheep?

  How was it possible that Fastolfe himself could watch everything he said prove to be sheer folly and yet never swerve from his policies? It was not even that he stubbornly insisted on being wrong, it was that he simply never seemed to notice he was wrong.

  If Amadiro were the kind of man who doted on fantasy, he would surely imagine that some kind of spell, some kind of apathetic enchantment, had fallen upon the Spacer worlds. He would imagine that somewhere someone possessed the magic power of lulling otherwise active brains and blinding to the truth otherwise sharp eyes.

  To add the final exquisite agony, people pitied Fastolfe for having died in frustration. In frustration, they said, because the Spacers would not seize new worlds of their own.

  It was Fastolfe’s own policies that kept them from doing so! What right had he to feel frustration over that? What would he do if he had, like Amadiro, always seen and spoken the truth and been unable to force the Spacers – enough Spacers – to listen to him.

  How many times had he thought that it would be better for the Galaxy to be empty than under the domination of the submen? If he had some magic power to destroy the Earth – Elijah Baley’s world – with a nod of his head, how eagerly he would.

  Yet to find refuge in such fantasy could only be a sign of his total despair. It was the other side of his recurrent, futile wish to give up and welcome death – if his robots would allow it.

  And then the time came when the power to destroy Earth was given him – even forced upon him against his will. That time was some three-fourths of a decade before, when he had first met Levular Mandamus.


  Memory! Three-fourths of a decade before –

  Amadiro looked up and noted that Maloon Cicis had entered the office. He had undoubtedly signaled and he had the right to enter if the signal were not acknowledged.

  Amadiro sighed and put down his small computer. Cicis had been his right-hand man ever since the Institute had been established. He was getting old in his service. Nothing drastically noticeable, just a general air of mild decay. His nose seemed to be a bit more asymmetrical than it once had been.

  He rubbed his own somewhat bulbous nose and wondered how badly the flavor of decay was enveloping him. He had once been 1.95 meters tall, a good height even by Spacer standards. Surely he stood as straight now as he always had and yet when he had actually measured his height recently, he could not manage t
o make it more than 1.93 meters. Was he beginning to stoop, to shrivel, to settle?

  He put away these dour thoughts that were themselves a surer sign of aging than mere measurements and said, “What is it, Maloon?”

  Cicis had a new personal robot dogging his steps – very modernistic and with glossy trim. That was a sign of aging, too. If one can’t keep one’s body young, one can always buy a new young robot. Amadiro was determined never to rouse smiles among the truly young by falling prey to that particular delusion – especially since Fastolfe, who was eight decades older than Amadiro, had never done so.

  Cicis said, “It’s this Mandamus fellow again, Chief.”


  “The one who keeps wanting to see you.”

  Amadiro thought a while. “You mean the idiot who’s a descendant of the Solarian woman?”

  “Yes, Chief.”

  “Well, I don’t want to see him. Haven’t you made that clear to him yet, Maloon?”

  “Abundantly clear. He asks that I hand you a note and he says you will then see him.”

  Amadiro said slowly, “I don’t think so, Maloon. What does the note say?”

  “I don’t understand it, Chief. It isn’t Galactic.”

  “In that case, why should I understand it any more than you do?”

  “I don’t know, but he asked me to give it to you. If you care to look at it, Chief, and say the word, I will g < > back and get rid of him one more time.”

  “Well, then, let me see it,” said Amadiro, shaking his head. He glanced at it with distaste.

  It read: “Ceterum censeo, delenda est Carthago.”

  Amadiro read the message, glared up at Maloon, then turned his eyes back to the message. Finally, he said, “You must have looked at this, since you know it isn’t Galactic. Did you ask him what it meant?”

  “Yes, I did, Chief. He said it was Latin, but that left me no wiser. He said you would understand. He is a very determined man and said he would sit there all day waiting till you read this.”

  “What does he look like?”

  “Thin. Serious. Probably humorless. Tall, but not quite as tall as you. Intense, deep-set eyes, thin lips.”

  “How old is he?”

  “From the texture of his skin, I should say four decades or so. He is very young.”

  “In that case, we must make allowances for youth. Send him in.”

  Cicis looked surprised. “You will see him?”

  “I have just said so, haven’t I? Send him in.”


  The young man entered the room in what was almost a march step. He stood there stiffly in front of the desk and said, “I thank you, sir, for agreeing to see me. May I have your permission to have my robots join me?”

  Amadiro raised his eyebrows. “I would be pleased to see them. Would you permit me to keep mine with me?”

  It had been many years since he had heard anyone mouth the old robot formula. It was one of those good old customs that sank into abeyance as the notion of formal politeness decayed and as it came to be taken more and more for granted that one’s personal robots were part of one’s self.

  “Yes, sir,” said Mandamus and two robots entered. They did not do so, Amadiro noted, till permission had been given. They were new robots, clearly efficient, and showed all the signs of good workmanship.

  “Your own design, Mr. Mandamus?” There was always some extra value in robots that were designed by their owners.

  “Indeed, sir.”

  “Then you are a roboticist?”

  “Yes, sir. I have my degree from the University of Eos.”

  “Working under –”

  Mandamus said smoothly, “Not under Dr. Fastolfe, sir. Under Dr. Maskellnik.”

  “Ah, but you are not a member of the Institute.”

  “I have applied for entrance, sir.”

  “I see.” Amadiro adjusted the papers on his desk and then said quickly, without looking up, “Where did you learn Latin?”

  “I do not know Latin well enough to speak it or read it, but I know enough about it to know that quotation and where to find it.”

  “That in itself is remarkable. How does that come about?”

  “I cannot devote every moment of my time to robotics, so I have my side interests. One of them is planetology, with particular reference to Earth. That led me to Earth’s history and culture.”

  “That is not a popular study among Spacers.”

  “No, sir, and that is too bad. One should always know one’s enemies – as you do, sir.”

  “As I do?”

  “Yes, sir. I believe you are acquainted with many aspects of Earth and are more learned in that respect than I am, for you have studied the subject longer.”

  “How do you know that?”

  “I have tried to learn as much about you as I can, sir.”

  “Because I am another one of your enemies?”

  “No, sir, but because I want to make you an ally.”

  “Make me an ally? You plan to make use of me, then?

  Does it strike you that you are being a little impertinent?”

  “No, sir, for I am sure you will want to be an ally of mine.”

  Amadiro stared at him. “Nevertheless, it strikes me that you are being rather more than a little impertinent. – Tell me, do you understand this quotation you have found for me?”

  “Yes, sir.”

  “Then translate it into Standard Galactic.”

  “It says, ‘In my opinion, Carthage must be destroyed.’”

  “And what does that mean, in your opinion?”

  “The speaker was Marcus Porcius Cato, a senator of the Roman Republic, a political unit of ancient Earth. It had defeated its chief rival, Carthage, but had not destroyed it. Cato held that Rome could not be secure until Carthage was entirely destroyed – and eventually, sir, it was.”

  “But what is Carthage to us, young man?”

  “There are such things as analogies.”

  “Which means?”

  “That the Spacer worlds, too, have a chief rival that, in my opinion, must be destroyed.”

  “Name the enemy.”

  “The planet Earth, sir.”

  Amadiro drummed his fingers very softly upon the desk before him. “And you want me to be your ally in such a project. You assume I will be happy and eager to be one. – Tell me, Dr. Mandamus, when have I ever said in any of my numerous speeches and writings on the subject that Earth must be destroyed?”

  Mandamus’s thin lips tightened and his nostrils flared. “I am not here,” he said, “in an attempt to trap you into something that can be used against you. I have not been sent here by Dr. Fastolfe or any of his party. Nor am I of his party. Nor do I attempt to say what is in your mind. I tell you only what is in my mind. In my opinion, Earth must be destroyed.”

  “And how do you propose to destroy Earth? Do you suggest that we drop nuclear bombs on it until the blasts and radiation and dust clouds destroy the planet? Because, if so, how do you propose to keep avenging Settler ships from doing the same to Aurora and to as many of the other Spacer worlds as they can reach? Earth might have been blasted with impunity as recently as fifteen decades ago. It can’t be now.”

  Mandamus looked revolted. “I have nothing like that in mind, Dr. Amadiro. I would not unnecessarily destroy human beings, even if they are Earthpeople. There is a way, however, in which Earth can be destroyed without necessarily killing its people wholesale – and there will be no retaliation.”

  “You are a dreamer,” said Amadiro, “or perhaps not quite sane.”

  “Let me explain.”

  “No, young man. I have little time and because your quotation, which I understood perfectly well, piqued my curiosity, I have already allowed myself to spend too much of it on you.

  Mandamus stood up. “I understand, Dr. Amadiro, and I beg your pardon for taking up more of your time than you could afford. Think of what I have said, however, and if you should become curious, why
not call upon me when you have more time to devote to me than you now have. Do not wait too long, however, for if I must, I will turn in other directions, for destroy Earth I will. I am frank with you, you see.”

  The young man attempted a smile that stretched his thin cheeks without producing much of an effect on his face otherwise. He said, “Good-bye – and thank you again,” turned, and left.

  Amadiro looked after him for a while thoughtfully, then touched a contact on the side of his desk.

  “Maloon,” he said when Cicis entered, “I want that young man watched around the clock and I want to know everyone he speaks to. Everyone. I want them all identified and I want them all questioned. Those whom I indicate are to be brought to me. – But, Maloon, everything must be done quietly and with an attitude of sweet and friendly persuasion. I am not yet master here, as you know.”

  But he would be eventually. Fastolfe was thirty-six decades old and clearly failing and Amadiro was eight decades younger.