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Forward the Foundation

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 launch pad 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


  A Bantam Spectra Book / published by arrangement with Doubleday


  Doubleday hardcover edition published 1993

  Bantam mass market edition / March 1994

  Bantam mass market reissue / September 2004

  Published by

  Bantam Dell

  A Division of Random House, Inc.

  New York, New York

  All rights reserved

  Copyright © 1993 by Nightfall, Inc.

  Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 92-46655 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: 978-0-553-90096-5




  Title Page


  PART 1 Eto Demerzel

  PART 2 Cleon I

  PART 3 Dors Venabili

  PART 4 Wanda Seldon

  PART 5 Epilogue


  Other Books by This Author

  About the Author

  PART 1


  DEMERZEL, ETO— … While there is no question that Eto Demerzel was the real power in the government during much of the reign of Emperor Cleon I, historians are divided as to the nature of his rule. The classic interpretation is that he was another in the long line of strong and ruthless oppressors in the last century of the undivided Galactic Empire, but there are revisionist views that have surfaced and that insist his was, if a despotism, a benevolent one. Much is made, in this view, of his relationship with Hari Seldon, though that remains forever uncertain, particularly during the unusual episode of Laskin Joranum, whose meteoric rise—


  * All quotations from the Encyclopedia Galactica here reproduced are taken from the 116th Edition, published 1,020 F.E. by the Encyclopedia Galactica Publishing Co., Terminus, with permission of the publishers.


  “I tell you again, Hari,” said Yugo Amaryl, “that your friend Demerzel is in deep trouble.” He emphasized the word “friend” very lightly and with an unmistakable air of distaste.

  Hari Seldon detected the sour note and ignored it. He looked up from his tricomputer and said, “I tell you again, Yugo, that that’s nonsense.” And then—with a trace of annoyance, just a trace—he added, “Why are you taking up my time by insisting?”

  “Because I think it’s important.” Amaryl sat down defiantly. It was a gesture that indicated he was not going to be moved easily. Here he was and here he would stay.

  Eight years before, he had been a heatsinker in the Dahl Sector—as low on the social scale as it was pos
sible to be. He had been lifted out of that position by Seldon, made into a mathematician and an intellectual—more than that, into a psychohistorian.

  Never for one minute did he forget what he had been and who he was now and to whom he owed the change. That meant that if he had to speak harshly to Hari Seldon—for Seldon’s own good—no consideration of respect and love for the older man and no regard for his own career would stop him. He owed such harshness—and much more—to Seldon.

  “Look, Hari,” he said, chopping at the air with his left hand, “for some reason that is beyond my understanding, you think highly of this Demerzel, but I don’t. No one whose opinion I respect—except you—thinks well of him. I don’t care what happens to him personally, Hari, but as long as I think you do, I have no choice but to bring this to your attention.”

  Seldon smiled, as much at the other’s earnestness as at what he considered to be the uselessness of his concern. He was fond of Yugo Amaryl—more than fond. Yugo was one of the four people he had encountered during that short period of his life when he was in flight across the face of the planet Trantor—Eto Demerzel, Dors Venabili, Yugo Amaryl, and Raych—four, the likes of which he had not found since.

  In a particular and, in each case, different way, these four were indispensable to him—Yugo Amaryl, because of his quick understanding of the principles of psychohistory and of his imaginative probings into new areas. It was comforting to know that if anything happened to Seldon himself before the mathematics of the field could be completely worked out—and how slowly it proceeded, and how mountainous the obstacles—there would at least remain one good mind that would continue the research.

  He said, “I’m sorry, Yugo. I don’t mean to be impatient with you or to reject out of hand whatever it is you are so anxious to make me understand. It’s just this job of mine; it’s this business of being a department head—”

  Amaryl found it his turn to smile and he repressed a slight chuckle. “I’m sorry, Hari, and I shouldn’t laugh, but you have no natural aptitude for the position.”

  “As well I know, but I’ll have to learn. I have to seem to be doing something harmless and there is nothing—nothing—more harmless than being the head of the Mathematics Department at Streeling University. I can fill my day with unimportant tasks, so that no one need know or ask about the course of our psychohistorical research, but the trouble is, I do fill my day with unimportant tasks and I have insufficient time to—” His eyes glanced around his office at the material stored in computers to which only he and Amaryl had the key and which, even if anyone else stumbled upon them, had been carefully phrased in an invented symbology that no one else would understand.

  Amaryl said, “Once you work your way further into your duties, you’ll begin to delegate and then you’ll have more time.”

  “I hope so,” said Seldon dubiously. “But tell me, what is it about Eto Demerzel that is so important?”

  “Simply that Eto Demerzel, our great Emperor’s First Minister, is busily creating an insurrection.”

  Seldon frowned. “Why would he want to do that?”

  “I didn’t say he wants to. He’s simply doing it—whether he knows it or not—and with considerable help from some of his political enemies. That’s all right with me, you understand. I think that, under ideal conditions, it would be a good thing to have him out of the Palace, off Trantor … beyond the Empire, for that matter. But you think highly of him, as I’ve said, and so I’m warning you, because I suspect that you are not following the recent political course of events as closely as you should.”

  “There are more important things to do,” said Seldon mildly.

  “Like psychohistory. I agree. But how are we going to develop psychohistory with any hope of success if we remain ignorant of politics? I mean, present-day politics. Now—now—is the time when the present is turning into the future. We can’t just study the past. We know what happened in the past. It’s against the present and the near future that we can check our results.”

  “It seems to me,” said Seldon, “that I have heard this argument before.”

  “And you’ll hear it again. It doesn’t seem to do me any good to explain this to you.”

  Seldon sighed, sat back in his chair, and regarded Amaryl with a smile. The younger man could be abrasive, but he took psychohistory seriously—and that repaid all.

  Amaryl still had the mark of his early years as a heatsinker. He had the broad shoulders and the muscular build of one who had been used to hard physical labor. He had not allowed his body to turn flabby and that was a good thing, for it inspired Seldon to resist the impulse to spend all of his time at the desk as well. He did not have Amaryl’s sheer physical strength, but he still had his own talents as a Twister—for all that he had just turned forty and could not keep it up forever. But for now, he would continue. Thanks to his daily workouts, his waist was still trim, his legs and arms firm.

  He said, “This concern for Demerzel cannot be purely a matter of his being a friend of mine. You must have some other motive.”

  “There’s no puzzle to that. As long as you’re a friend of Demerzel, your position here at the University is secure and you can continue to work on psychohistorical research.”

  “There you are. So I do have a reason to be friends with him. It isn’t beyond your understanding at all.”

  “You have an interest in cultivating him. That, I understand. But as for friendship—that, I don’t understand. However—if Demerzel lost power, quite apart from the effect it might have on your position, then Cleon himself would be running the Empire and the rate of its decline would increase. Anarchy might then be upon us before we have worked out all the implications of psychohistory and made it possible for the science to save all humanity.”

  “I see. —But, you know, I honestly don’t think that we’re going to work out psychohistory in time to prevent the Fall of the Empire.”

  “Even if we could not prevent the Fall, we could cushion the effects, couldn’t we?”


  “There you are, then. The longer we have to work in peace, the greater the chance we will have to prevent the Fall or, at least, ameliorate the effects. Since that is the case, working backward, it may be necessary to save Demerzel, whether we—or, at least, I—like it or not.”

  “Yet you just said that you would like to see him out of the Palace and away from Trantor and beyond the Empire.”

  “Yes, under ideal conditions, I said. But we are not living under ideal conditions and we need our First Minister, even if he is an instrument of repression and despotism.”

  “I see. But why do you think the Empire is so close to dissolution that the loss of a First Minister will bring it about?”


  “Are you using it for predictions? We haven’t even gotten the framework in place. What predictions can you make?”

  “There’s intuition, Hari.”

  “There’s always been intuition. We want something more, don’t we? We want a mathematical treatment that will give us probabilities of specific future developments under this condition or that. If intuition suffices to guide us, we don’t need psychohistory at all.”

  “It’s not necessarily a matter of one or the other, Hari. I’m talking about both: the combination, which may be better than either—at least until psychohistory is perfected.”

  “If ever,” said Seldon. “But tell me, where does this danger to Demerzel arise? What is it that is likely to harm him or overthrow him? Are we talking about Demerzel’s overthrow?”

  “Yes,” said Amaryl and a grim look settled on his face.

  “Then tell me. Have pity on my ignorance.”

  Amaryl flushed. “You’re being condescending, Hari. Surely you’ve heard of Jo-Jo Joranum.”

  “Certainly. He’s a demagogue— Wait, where’s he from? Nishaya, right? A very unimportant world. Goat herding, I think. High-quality cheeses.”

  “That’s it. Not just a
demagogue, however. He commands a strong following and it’s getting stronger. He aims, he says, for social justice and greater political involvement by the people.”

  “Yes,” said Seldon. “I’ve heard that much. His slogan is: ‘Government belongs to the people.’ ”

  “Not quite, Hari. He says: ‘Government is the people.’ ”

  Seldon nodded. “Well, you know, I rather sympathize with the thought.”

  “So do I. I’m all for it—if Joranum meant it. But he doesn’t, except as a stepping-stone. It’s a path, not a goal. He wants to get rid of Demerzel. After that it will be easy to manipulate Cleon. Then Joranum will take the throne himself and he will be the people. You’ve told me yourself that there have been a number of episodes of this sort in Imperial history—and these days the Empire is weaker and less stable than it used to be. A blow which, in earlier centuries, merely staggered it might now shatter it. The Empire will welter in civil war and never recover and we won’t have psychohistory in place to teach us what must be done.”

  “Yes, I see your point, but surely it’s not going to be that easy to get rid of Demerzel.”

  “You don’t know how strong Joranum is growing.”

  “It doesn’t matter how strong he’s growing.” A shadow of thought seemed to pass over Seldon’s brow. “I wonder that his parents came to name him Jo-Jo. There’s something juvenile about that name.”

  “His parents had nothing to do with it. His real name is Laskin, a very common name on Nishaya. He chose Jo-Jo himself, presumably from the first syllable of his last name.”

  “The more fool he, wouldn’t you say?”

  “No, I wouldn’t. His followers shout it—‘Jo … Jo … Jo … Jo’—over and over. It’s hypnotic.”