Foundation And Empire
Copyright 1952 by
I first read this in 1968 and most recently on the 5th January 2003
Four hundred years have passed since the Foundation was established
on the planet Terminus, on the periphery of the old Empire.
The Foundation's influence across its corner of space has waxed
as the Galactic Empire wanes and rumours of the Foundation's
invincibility, of the power of its 'magicians', reach back to
what is left of the old Empire.
The foundation's future seems assured, indeed its government has
relaxed into a comfortable assurance of its superiority.
Hari Seldon's psychohistorical predictions have gained the
power of religious dogma. The Foundation is unswerving in its belief
that nothing can threaten it.
Now, however, two military threats arise.
In the Empire, Bel Riose is a young, successful and highly ambitious
general. He wants to make his mark upon history and rumours of the
far-off Foundation give him the campaign he desires. He'll bring
the power of the Empire to bear on the Foundation.
On another world, far from both the Empire and the Foundation, a new
leader, the Mule, has arisen, possessed of immense and mysterious talents.
He is already building his own empire. Now he too is wants the
There is a problem that the Foundation has overlooked:
psychohistory predicts the results of the social
forces of the millions, the billions, of ordinary people.
The Mule, however, is not an ordinary person, he's a mutant.
The effects of his actions may be totally unforeseen by
Perhaps the Foundation is at far great risk than it realises.
Well I enjoyed this. It's still a very good tale but it's the
psychohistory stuff, this idea of future events foretold, of
Seldon's hologram reappearing down through the centuries to warn
of imminent dangers, that enthralls one.
Indeed as a bratlet, I happily constructed many fantasies of a
distant time to come in which my hologram would appear, an aged
but surprisingly handsome Nostradamus, to future generations of Maxims
and Maxettes on some far-flung colony world; declaiming, amid the
hushed silence of the crowded millions, weighty words to solve the
problems of their time:
"The Empire has is no more but the Palais still swings on a Saturday night";
"A blonde girl wearing blue shift enters from the right";
"Yeah, yeah, the Stones. Just give me a fag and one of those glasses.
My throat's bloody killing me. Ta. What's going on with this thing,
the little green light's on. Pete, the little green light's on. What's that mean
then? Oh bugger"
"Rockall Northeasterly six or seven decreasing four, wintry showers, good".
The point is, of course, that the Foundation series was great
for its time and even now it remains an important and enjoyable
story, but it doesn't exactly rock in this, the 21st century.
Loaded on the 31st January 2003.