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Foundation's Edge

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 2002

  Bantam mass market edition / November 1981

  Bantam mass market reissue / September 2004

  Published by

  Bantam Dell

  A Division of Random House, Inc.

  New York, New York

  All rights reserved

  Copyright © 1982 by Nightfall, Inc.

  Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 00-21182

  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: 978-0-553-90093-4


  To the memory of Judy-Lynn del Rey


  a giant in mind and spirit)



  Other Books by This Author

  Title Page




  1. Councilman

  2. Mayor

  3. Historian

  4. Space

  5. Speaker

  6. Earth

  7. Farmer

  8. Farmwoman

  9. Hyperspace

  10. Table

  11. Sayshell

  12. Agent

  13. University

  14. Forward!

  15. Gaia-S

  16. Convergence

  17. Gaia

  18. Collision

  19. Decision

  20. Conclusion

  Afterword by the Author

  About the Author


  THE FIRST GALACTIC EMPIRE WAS FALLING. IT HAD been decaying and breaking down for centuries and only one man fully realized that fact.

  He was Hari Seldon, the last great scientist of the First Empire, and it was he who perfected psychohistory—the science of human behavior reduced to mathematical equations.

  The individual human being is unpredictable, but
the reactions of human mobs, Seldon found, could be treated statistically. The larger the mob, the greater the accuracy that could be achieved. And the size of the human masses that Seldon worked with was no less than the population of all the inhabited millions of worlds of the Galaxy.

  Seldon’s equations told him that, left to itself, the Empire would fall and that thirty thousand years of human misery and agony would elapse before a Second Empire would arise from the ruins. And yet, if one could adjust some of the conditions that existed, that Interregnum could be decreased to a single millennium—just one thousand years.

  It was to insure this that Seldon set up two colonies of scientists that he called “Foundations.” With deliberate intention, he set them up “at opposite ends of the Galaxy.” The First Foundation, which centered on physical science, was set up in the full daylight of publicity. The existence of the other, the Second Foundation, a world of psychohistorical and “mentalic” scientists, was drowned in silence.

  In The Foundation Trilogy, the story of the first four centuries of the Interregnum is told. The First Foundation (commonly known as simply “The Foundation,” since the existence of another was unknown to almost all) began as a small community lost in the emptiness of the Outer Periphery of the Galaxy. Periodically it faced a crisis in which the variables of human intercourse—and of the social and economic currents of the time—constricted about it. Its freedom to move lay along only one certain line and when it moved in that direction, a new horizon of development opened before it. All had been planned by Hari Seldon, long dead now.

  The First Foundation, with its superior science, took over the barbarized planets that surrounded it. It faced the anarchic warlords who broke away from the dying Empire and beat them. It faced the remnant of the Empire itself under its last strong Emperor and its last strong general—and beat it.

  It seemed as though the “Seldon Plan” was going through smoothly and that nothing would prevent the Second Empire from being established on time—and with a minimum of intermediate devastation.

  But psychohistory is a statistical science. Always there is a small chance that something will go wrong, and something did—something which Hari Seldon could not have foreseen. One man, called the Mule, appeared from nowhere. He had mental powers in a Galaxy that lacked them. He could mold men’s emotions and shape their minds so that his bitterest opponents were made into his devoted servants. Armies could not, would not, fight him. The First Foundation fell and Seldon’s Plan seemed to lie in ruins.

  There was left the mysterious Second Foundation, which had been caught unprepared by the sudden appearance of the Mule, but which was now slowly working out a counterattack. Its great defense was the fact of its unknown location. The Mule sought it in order to make his conquest of the Galaxy complete. The faithful of what was left of the First Foundation sought it to obtain help.

  Neither found it. The Mule was stopped first by the action of a woman, Bayta Darell, and that bought enough time for the Second Foundation to organize the proper action and, with that, to stop the Mule permanently. Slowly they prepared to reinstate the Seldon Plan.

  But, in a way, the cover of the Second Foundation was gone. The First Foundation knew of the Second’s existence, and the First did not want a future in which they were overseen by the mentalists. The First Foundation was the superior in physical force, while the Second Foundation was hampered not only by that fact, but by being faced by a double task: it had not only to stop the First Foundation but had also to regain its anonymity.

  This the Second Foundation, under its greatest “First Speaker,” Preem Palver, managed to do. The First Foundation was allowed to seem to win, to seem to defeat the Second Foundation, and it moved on to greater and greater strength in the Galaxy, totally ignorant that the Second Foundation still existed.

  It is now four hundred and ninety-eight years after the First Foundation had come into existence. It is at the peak of its strength, but one man does not accept appearances—




  “I DON’T BELIEVE IT, OF COURSE,” SAID GOLAN Trevize, standing on the wide steps of Seldon Hall and looking out over the city as it sparkled in the sunlight.

  Terminus was a mild planet, with a high water / land ratio. The introduction of weather control had made it all the more comfortable and considerably less interesting, Trevize often thought.

  “I don’t believe any of it,” he repeated and smiled. His white, even teeth gleamed out of his youthful face.

  His companion and fellow Councilman, Munn Li Compor, who had adopted a middle name in defiance of Terminus tradition, shook his head uneasily. “What don’t you believe? That we saved the city?”

  “Oh, I believe that. We did, didn’t we? And Seldon said that we would, and he said we would be right to do so, and that he knew all about it five hundred years ago.”

  Compor’s voice dropped and he said in a half-whisper, “Look, I don’t mind your talking like this to me, because I take it as just talk, but if you shout it out in crowds others will hear and, frankly, I don’t want to be standing near you when the lightning strikes. I’m not sure how precise the aim will be.”

  Trevize’s smile did not waver. He said, “Is there harm in saying that the city is saved? And that we did it without a war?”

  “There was no one to fight,” said Compor. He had hair of a buttery yellow, eyes of a sky blue, and he always resisted the impulse to alter those unfashionable hues.

  “Have you never heard of civil war, Compor?” said Trevize. He was tall, his hair was black, with a gentle wave to it, and he had a habit of walking with his thumbs hitched into the soft-fibered sash he always wore.

  “A civil war over the location of the capital?”

  “The question was enough to bring on a Seldon Crisis. It destroyed Hannis’s political career. It put you and me into the Council last election and the issue hung—” He twisted one hand slowly, back and forth, like a balance coming to rest on the level.

  He paused on the steps, ignoring the other members of the government and the media, as well as the fashionable society types who had finagled an invitation to witness Seldon’s return (or the return of his image, at any rate).

  All were walking down the stairs, talking, laughing, glorying in the correctness of everything, and basking in Seldon’s approval.

  Trevize stood still and let the crowd swirl past him. Compor, having walked two steps ahead, paused—an invisible cord stretched between them. He said, “Aren’t you coming?”

  “There’s no hurry. They won’t start the Council meeting until Mayor Branno has reviewed the situation in her usual flat-footed, one-syllable-at-a-time way. I’m in no hurry to endure another ponderous speech. —Look at the city!”

  “I see it. I saw it yesterday, too.”

  “Yes, but did you see it five hundred years ago when it was founded?”

  “Four hundred ninety-eight,” Compor corrected him automatically. “Two years from now, they’ll have the hemi-millennial celebration and Mayor Branno will still be in the office at the time, barring events of, we hope, minor probability.”

  “We hope,” said Trevize dryly. “But what was it like five hundred years ago when it was founded? One city! One small city, occupied by a group of men preparing an Encyclopedia that was never finished!”

  “Of course it was finished.”

  “Are you referring to the Encyclopedia Galactica we have now? What we have isn’t what they were working on. What we have is in a computer and it’s revised daily. Have you ever looked at the uncompleted original?”

  “You mean in the Hardin Museum?”

  “The Salvor Hardin Museum of Origins. Let’s have the full name, please, since you’re so careful about exact dates. Have you looked at it?”

  “No. Should I?”

  “No, it isn’t worth it. But anyway—there they were—a group of Encyclopedists, forming the nucleus of a town—one small town in a world virtually wit
hout metals, circling a sun isolated from the rest of the Galaxy, at the edge, the very edge. And now, five hundred years later, we’re a suburban world. The whole place is one big park, with all the metal we want. We’re at the center of everything now!”

  “Not really,” said Compor. “We’re still circling a sun isolated from the rest of the Galaxy. Still at the very edge of the Galaxy.”

  “Ah no, you’re saying that without thinking. That was the whole point of this little Seldon Crisis. We are more than the single world of Terminus. We are the Foundation, which sends out its tentacles Galaxy-wide and rules that Galaxy from its position at the very edge. We can do it because we’re not isolated, except in position, and that doesn’t count.”

  “All right. I’ll accept that.” Compor was clearly uninterested and took another step downward. The invisible cord between them stretched farther.

  Trevize reached out a hand as though to haul his companion up the steps again. “Don’t you see the significance, Compor? There’s this enormous change, but we don’t accept it. In our hearts we want the small Foundation, the small one-world operation we had in the old days—the days of iron heroes and noble saints that are gone forever.”

  “Come on!”

  “I mean it. Look at Seldon Hall. To begin with, in the first crises in Salvor Hardin’s day, it was just the Time Vault, a small auditorium in which the holographic image of Seldon appeared. That was all. Now it’s a colossal mausoleum, but is there a force-field ramp in the place? A slideway? A gravitic lift? —No, just these steps, and we walk down them and we walk up them as Hardin would have had to do. At odd and unpredictable times, we cling in fright to the past.”