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Foundation and Earth

Isaac Asimov

  See what science fiction and fantasy authors

  from A to Z are still saying about

  Isaac Asimov:

  “The extraordinary and grand concept which forms the basis of Asimov’s trilogy was what drew me to science fiction originally.”—Brian W. Aldiss

  “With his fertile imagination, his wit, and his prolific output, Isaac Asimov truly laid the foundation for all future generations of science fiction writers.”—Kevin J. Anderson

  “A true polymath, a superb rationalist, an exciting and accessible writer in both fiction and nonfiction, Isaac Asimov was simply a master of all he surveyed. Beloved entertainer, pioneer, author of many of the most endearing and lasting stories of the twentieth century, he will probably be best known as the creator of Hari Seldon, Lije Baley, R. Daneel Olivaw, Trantor, the Encyclopedia Galactica, and the idea that robots—our eternal servants—must play by the rules, even when they seem not to.”—Greg Bear

  “Isaac Asimov was not only one of the most important writers in science fiction, he was one of the best and brightest people ever. Read I, Robot to see this sparkling genius at his best.”—Ben Bova

  “Asimov served wondrous meals-of-the-mind to a civilization that was starved for clear thinking about the future. To this day, his visions spice our ongoing dinner-table conversation about human destiny.”—David Brin

  “Asimov is the reason I started reading science fiction. I cut my teeth (figuratively) on The Caves of Steel and followed it up with The Naked Sun. Some writers show us a different way of looking at the world, but Isaac Asimov opened up the door to the universe and invited us to come along for one hell of a fabulous ride.”—Esther Freisner

  “Isaac Asimov’s ability to take the Big Ideas so crucial to the sense of wonder in science fiction and embody them in compellingly human stories and settings—particularly in his robot stories, Foundation works, and other speculative fiction both long and short—raised the bar high for all of us who have followed him in the tradition of idea-driven science fiction. Asimov was a law unto himself, yet he gave his fellow writers laws—of robotics, and psychohistory—that have shaped all of us who have tried to write of machine intelligence or of human civilizations vast in time and space. This is his great and vital legacy.”—Howard V. Hendrix

  “Asimov’s Foundation trilogy was the pivotal touchstone in my life in creative fiction. His vision and scope spanned the galaxy across eons and at the same time he told deeply personal stories of living characters. The writer I am sprang from the boy that these books touched back then. They continue to move me still. Thank you, Isaac, for opening my mind and life to the possible.”—Tracy Hickman

  “I grew up on the ABCs of science fiction—Asimov, Bradbury, Clarke. There’s a reason Asimov’s name comes first, and not just because of the alphabet!”—Janis Ian

  “Asimov’s Foundation series stands the test of time. They were among the first science fiction books I ever read and I still enjoy them today as an adult. The genre owes much to his sprawling vision of galactic empire.”—Karen Lowachee

  “The idea of robots rising up against their human masters is at least as old as the word ‘robot’ itself. Asimov was unique in treating this as simply an engineering problem, which he solved with his famous Three Laws of Robotics. This by itself would have earned him a spot in history, but he went on (and on!) to explore the ramifications and unintended consequences of his solution. In so doing, he crafted one of the most vibrant, original, and enduring future histories the field of science fiction has ever seen, or probably ever will. Reader, you are in for a treat.”—Wil McCarthy

  “If anything can be said to have been the launchpad for space age science fiction, it has to be the Foundation trilogy. It’s a classic. And it’s unforgettable.”—Jack McDevitt

  “I’m sure there will be more Foundation stories, and more robot stories, and more science fictional mysteries, because those are Isaac’s legacies to us. But reading them won’t be quite the same. There was only one Isaac Asimov; there will never be another.”—Mike Resnick

  “The Foundation series is one of the masterpieces of science fiction. If you’ve never read these novels, then you’re in for a treat, and even if you’ve already read them, then you owe it to yourself to reread them, because they’re still great.”—Allen M. Steele

  “Quite simply, Asimov got me started.”—Liz Williams

  “Isaac was still in his teens when I met him, a fan of mine before I was a fan of his. Writing for John W. Campbell back in the famous ‘golden age of science fiction,’ he became one of the founders of our field. With the robot stories and the Foundation stories, he helped to shape science fiction as we know it.”—Jack Williamson

  Bantam Spectra Books

  by Isaac Asimov


  Prelude to Foundation


  Foundation and Empire

  Second Foundation

  Foundation’s Edge

  Forward the Foundation


  I, Robot

  The Caves of Steel

  The Naked Sun

  The Robots of Dawn


  The Gods Themselves

  Fantastic Voyage

  With Robert Silverberg


  The Positronic Man


  A Bantam Spectra Book / published by arrangement with Doubleday


  Doubleday hardcover edition published 1986

  Bantam mass market edition / September 2004

  Published by

  Bantam Dell

  A Division of Random House, Inc.

  New York, New York

  All rights reserved

  Copyright © 1986 by Nightfall, Inc.

  Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 86-2130

  No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without the written permission of the publisher, except where permitted by law.

  For information address: Bantam Books, New York, New York.

  Bantam Books and the rooster colophon are registered trademarks of Random House, Inc.

  eISBN: 978-0-553-90094-1


  To the memory of Judy-Lynn del Rey


  a giant in mind and spirit.


  ON AUGUST 1, 1941, WHEN I WAS A LAD OF TWENTY-ONE, I was a graduate student in chemistry at Columbia University and had been writing science fiction professionally for three years. I was hastening to see John Campbell, editor of Astounding, to whom I had sold five stories by then. I was anxious to tell him a new idea I had for a science fiction story.

  It was to write a historical novel of the future; to tell the story of the fall of the Galactic Empire. My enthusiasm must have been catching, for Campbell grew as excited as I was. He didn’t want me to write a single story. He wanted a series of stories, in which the full history of the thousand years of turmoil between the fall of the First Galactic Empire and the rise of the Second Galactic Empire was to be outlined. It would all be illuminated by the science of “psychohistory” that Campbell and I thrashed out between us.

  The first story appeared in the May 1942 Astounding and the second story appeared in the June 1942 issue. They were at once popular and Campbell saw to it that I wrote six more stories before the end of the decade. The stories grew longer, too. The first one was only twelve thousand words long. Two of the last three stories were fifty thousand words apiece.

  By the time the decade was ove
r, I had grown tired of the series, dropped it, and went on to other things. By then, however, various publishing houses were beginning to put out hardcover science fiction books. One such house was a small semiprofessional firm, Gnome Press. They published my Foundation series in three volumes: Foundation (1951); Foundation and Empire (1952); and Second Foundation (1953). The three books together came to be known as The Foundation Trilogy.

  The books did not do very well, for Gnome Press did not have the capital with which to advertise and promote them. I got neither statements nor royalties from them.

  In early 1961, my then-editor at Doubleday, Timothy Seldes, told me he had received a request from a foreign publisher to reprint the Foundation books. Since they were not Doubleday books, he passed the request on to me. I shrugged my shoulders. “Not interested, Tim. I don’t get royalties on those books.”

  Seldes was horrified, and instantly set about getting the rights to the books from Gnome Press (which was, by that time, moribund) and in August of that year, the books (along with I, Robot) became Doubleday property.

  From that moment on, the Foundation series took off and began to earn increasing royalties. Doubleday published the Trilogy in a single volume and distributed them through the Science Fiction Book Club. Because of that the Foundation series became enormously well-known.

  In the 1966 World Science Fiction Convention, held in Cleveland, the fans were asked to vote on a category of “The Best All-Time Series.” It was the first time (and, so far, the last) the category had been included in the nominations for the Hugo Award. The Foundation Trilogy won the award, which further added to the popularity of the series.

  Increasingly, fans kept asking me to continue the series. I was polite but I kept refusing. Still, it fascinated me that people who had not yet been born when the series was begun had managed to become caught up in it.

  Doubleday, however, took the demands far more seriously than I did. They had humored me for twenty years but as the demands kept growing in intensity and number, they finally lost patience. In 1981, they told me that I simply had to write another Foundation novel and, in order to sugar-coat the demand, offered me a contract at ten times my usual advance.

  Nervously, I agreed. It had been thirty-two years since I had written a Foundation story and now I was instructed to write one 140,000 words long, twice that of any of the earlier volumes and nearly three times as long as any previous individual story. I re-read The Foundation Trilogy and, taking a deep breath, dived into the task.

  The fourth book of the series, Foundation’s Edge, was published in October 1982, and then a very strange thing happened. It appeared in the New York Times bestseller list at once. In fact, it stayed on that list for twenty-five weeks, much to my utter astonishment. Nothing like that had ever happened to me.

  Doubleday at once signed me up to do additional novels and I wrote two that were part of another series, The Robot Novels. —And then it was time to return to the Foundation.

  So I wrote Foundation and Earth, which begins at the very moment that Foundation’s Edge ends, and that is the book you now hold. It might help if you glanced over Foundation’s Edge just to refresh your memory, but you don’t have to. Foundation and Earth stands by itself. I hope you enjoy it.


  New York City, 1986



  Praise for Isaac Asimov

  Other Books by This Author

  Title Page



  The Story Behind the Foundation

  PART I GAIA 1. The Search Begins

  2. Toward Comporellon

  PART II COMPORELLON 3. At the Entry Station

  4. On Comporellon

  5. Struggle for the Ship

  6. The Nature of Earth

  7. Leaving Comporellon

  PART III AURORA 8. Forbidden World

  9. Facing the Pack

  PART IV SOLARIA 10. Robots

  11. Underground

  12. To the Surface

  PART V MELPOMENIA 13. Away from Solaria

  14. Dead Planet

  15. Moss

  PART VI ALPHA 16. The Center of the Worlds

  17. New Earth

  18. The Music Festival

  PART VII EARTH 19. Radioactive?

  20. The Nearby World

  21. The Search Ends

  About the Author

  Other Books by This Author







  It wasn’t a new question. Since he had arrived at Gaia, he had asked it of himself frequently. He would wake up from a sound sleep in the pleasant coolness of the night and find the question sounding noiselessly in his mind, like a tiny drumbeat: Why did I do it? Why did I do it?

  Now, though, for the first time, he managed to ask it of Dom, the ancient of Gaia.

  Dom was well aware of Trevize’s tension for he could sense the fabric of the Councilman’s mind. He did not respond to it. Gaia must in no way ever touch Trevize’s mind, and the best way of remaining immune to the temptation was to painstakingly ignore what he sensed.

  “Do what, Trev?” he asked. He found it difficult to use more than one syllable in addressing a person, and it didn’t matter. Trevize was growing somewhat used to that.

  “The decision I made,” said Trevize. “Choosing Gaia as the future.”

  “You were right to do so,” said Dom, seated, his aged deep-set eyes looking earnestly up at the man of the Foundation, who was standing.

  “You say I am right,” said Trevize impatiently.

  “I/we/Gaia know you are. That’s your worth to us. You have the capacity for making the right decision on incomplete data, and you have made the decision. You chose Gaia! You rejected the anarchy of a Galactic Empire built on the technology of the First Foundation, as well as the anarchy of a Galactic Empire built on the mentalics of the Second Foundation. You decided that neither could be long stable. So you chose Gaia.”

  “Yes,” said Trevize. “Exactly! I chose Gaia, a superorganism; a whole planet with a mind and personality in common, so that one has to say ‘I/we/Gaia’ as an invented pronoun to express the inexpressible.” He paced the floor restlessly. “And it will become eventually Galaxia, a super-superorganism embracing all the swarm of the Milky Way.”

  He stopped, turned almost savagely on Dom, and said, “I feel I’m right, as you feel it, but you want the coming of Galaxia, and so are satisfied with the decision. There’s something in me, however, that doesn’t want it, and for that reason I’m not satisfied to accept the rightness so easily. I want to know why I made the decision, I want to weigh and judge the rightness and be satisfied with it. Merely feeling right isn’t enough. How can I know I am right? What is the device that makes me right?”

  “I/we/Gaia do not know how it is that you come to the right decision. Is it important to know that as long as we have the decision?”

  “You speak for the whole planet, do you? For the common consciousness of every dewdrop, of every pebble, of even the liquid central core of the planet?”

  “I do, and so can any portion of the planet in which the intensity of the common consciousness is great enough.”

  “And is all this common consciousness satisfied to use me as a black box? Since the black box works, is it unimportant to know what is inside? —That doesn’t suit me. I don’t enjoy being a black box. I want to know what’s inside. I want to know how and why I chose Gaia and Galaxia as the future, so that I can rest and be at peace.”

  “But why do you dislike or distrust your decision so?”

  Trevize drew a deep breath and said slowly, in a low and forceful voice, “Because I don’t want to be part of a superorganism. I don’t want to be a dispensable part to be done away with whenever the superorganism judges that doing away would be for the good of the whole

  Dom looked at Trevize thoughtfully. “Do you want to change your decision, then, Trev? You can, you know.”

  “I long to change the decision, but I can’t do that merely because I dislike it. To do something now, I have to know whether the decision is wrong or right. It’s not enough merely to feel it’s right.”

  “If you feel you are right, you are right.” Always that slow, gentle voice that somehow made Trevize feel wilder by its very contrast with his own inner turmoil.

  Then Trevize said, in half a whisper, breaking out of the insoluble oscillation between feeling and knowing, “I must find Earth.”

  “Because it has something to do with this passionate need of yours to know?”

  “Because it is another problem that troubles me unbearably and because I feel there is a connection between the two. Am I not a black box? I feel there is a connection. Isn’t that enough to make you accept it as a fact?”

  “Perhaps,” said Dom, with equanimity.

  “Granted it is now thousands of years—twenty thousand perhaps—since the people of the Galaxy have concerned themselves with Earth, how is it possible that we have all forgotten our planet of origin?”

  “Twenty thousand years is a longer time than you realize. There are many aspects of the early Empire we know little of; many legends that are almost surely fictitious but that we keep repeating, and even believing, because of lack of anything to substitute. And Earth is older than the Empire.”

  “But surely there are some records. My good friend, Pelorat, collects myths and legends of early Earth; anything he can scrape up from any source. It is his profession and, more important, his hobby. Those myths and legends are all there are. There are no actual records, no documents.”