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Prelude to Foundation Paperback – December 15, 2020
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Praise for the Foundation series
|Foundation (Book 1)||Foundation and Empire (Book 2)||Second Foundation (Book 3)||Foundation’s Edge (Book 4)||Foundation and Earth (Book 5)||Forward the Foundation (Foundation Prequel 2)|
|Experience the complete genre-defining Foundation series.||The story of our future begins with the Foundation. Nominated as one of America’s best-loved novels by PBS’s The Great American Read.||The second novel in Isaac Asimov’s classic science-fiction masterpiece, the Foundation series.||The third novel in Isaac Asimov’s classic science-fiction masterpiece, the Foundation series.||The fourth novel in Isaac Asimov’s classic science-fiction masterpiece, the Foundation series.||The fifth novel in Isaac Asimov’s classic science-fiction masterpiece, the Foundation series.||The second of two prequel novels in Isaac Asimov’s classic science-fiction masterpiece.|
About the Author
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
Having succeeded to the Imperial throne in 12,010 at the age of twenty-two, Cleon I's reign represented a curious interval of quiet in those troubled times. This is undoubtedly due to the skills of his Chief of Staff, Eto Demerzel, who so carefully obscured himself from public record that little is known about him.
Cleon himself . . .
Suppressing a small yawn, Cleon said, "Demerzel, have you by any chance ever heard of a man named Hari Seldon?"
Cleon had been Emperor for just over ten years and there were times at state occasions when, dressed in the necessary robes and regalia, he could manage to look stately. He did so, for instance, in the holograph of himself that stood in the niche in the wall behind him. It was placed so that it clearly dominated the other niches holding the holographs of several of his ancestors.
The holograph was not a totally honest one, for though Cleon's hair was light brown in hologram and reality alike, it was a bit thicker in the holograph. There was a certain asymmetry to his real face, for the left side of his upper lip raised itself a bit higher than the right side, and this was somehow not evident in the holograph. And if he had stood up and placed himself beside the holograph, he would have been seen to be 2 centimeters under the 1.83-meter height that the image portrayed--and perhaps a bit stouter.
Of course, the holograph was the official coronation portrait and he had been younger then. He still looked young and rather handsome, too, and when he was not in the pitiless grip of official ceremony, there was a kind of vague good nature about his face.
Demerzel said, with the tone of respect that he carefully cultivated, "Hari Seldon? It is an unfamiliar name to me, Sire. Ought I to know of him?"
"The Minister of Science mentioned him to me last night. I thought you might."
Demerzel frowned slightly, but only very slightly, for one does not frown in the Imperial presence. "The Minister of Science, Sire, should have spoken of this man to me as Chief of Staff. If you are to be bombarded from every side--"
Cleon raised his hand and Demerzel stopped at once. "Please, Demerzel, one can't stand on formality at all times. When I passed the Minister at last night's reception and exchanged a few words with him, he bubbled over. I could not refuse to listen and I was glad I had, for it was interesting."
"In what way interesting, Sire?"
"Well, these are not the old days when science and mathematics were all the rage. That sort of thing seems to have died down somehow, perhaps because all the discoveries have been made, don't you think? Apparently, however, interesting things can still happen. At least I was told it was interesting."
"By the Minister of Science, Sire?"
"Yes. He said that this Hari Seldon had attended a convention of mathematicians held here in Trantor--they do this every ten years, for some reason--and he said that he had proved that one could foretell the future mathematically."
Demerzel permitted himself a small smile. "Either the Minister of Science, a man of little acumen, is mistaken or the mathematician is. Surely, the matter of foretelling the future is a children's dream of magic."
"Is it, Demerzel? People believe in such things."
"People believe in many things, Sire."
"But they believe in such things. Therefore, it doesn't matter whether the forecast of the future is true or not. If a mathematician should predict a long and happy reign for me, a time of peace and prosperity for the Empire-- Eh, would that not be well?"
"It would be pleasant to hear, certainly, but what would it accomplish, Sire?"
"But surely if people believe this, they would act on that belief. Many a prophecy, by the mere force of its being believed, is transmuted to fact. These are 'self-fulfilling prophecies.' Indeed, now that I think of it, it was you who once explained this to me."
Demerzel said, "I believe I did, Sire." His eyes were watching the Emperor carefully, as though to see how far he might go on his own. "Still, if that be so, one could have any person make the prophecy."
"Not all persons would be equally believed, Demerzel. A mathematician, however, who could back his prophecy with mathematical formulas and terminology, might be understood by no one and yet believed by everyone."
Demerzel said, "As usual, Sire, you make good sense. We live in troubled times and it would be worthwhile to calm them in a way that would require neither money nor military effort--which, in recent history, have done little good and much harm."
"Exactly, Demerzel," said the Emperor with excitement. "Reel in this Hari Seldon. You tell me you have your strings stretching to every part of this turbulent world, even where my forces dare not go. Pull on one of those strings, then, and bring in this mathematician. Let me see him."
"I will do so, Sire," said Demerzel, who had already located Seldon and who made a mental note to commend the Minister of Science for a job well done.
Hari Seldon did not make an impressive appearance at this time. Like the Emperor Cleon I, he was thirty-two years old, but he was only 1.73 meters tall. His face was smooth and cheerful, his hair dark brown, almost black, and his clothing had the unmistakable touch of provinciality about it.
To anyone in later times who knew of Hari Seldon only as a legendary demigod, it would seem almost sacrilegious for him not to have white hair, not to have an old lined face, a quiet smile radiating wisdom, not to be seated in a wheelchair. Even then, in advanced old age, his eyes had been cheerful, however. There was that.
And his eyes were particularly cheerful now, for his paper had been given at the Decennial Convention. It had even aroused some interest in a distant sort of way and old Osterfith had nodded his head at him and had said, "Ingenious, young man. Most ingenious." Which, coming from Osterfith, was satisfactory. Most satisfactory.
But now there was a new--and quite unexpected--development and Seldon wasn't sure whether it should increase his cheer and intensify his satisfaction or not.
He stared at the tall young man in uniform--the Spaceship-and-Sun neatly placed on the left side of his tunic.
"Lieutenant Alban Wellis," said the officer of the Emperor's Guard before putting away his identification. "Will you come with me now, sir?"
Wellis was armed, of course. There were two other Guardsmen waiting outside his door. Seldon knew he had no choice, for all the other's careful politeness, but there was no reason he could not seek information. He said, "To see the Emperor?"
"To be brought to the Palace, sir. That's the extent of my instructions."
"I was not told why, sir. And I have my strict instructions that you must come with me--one way or another."
"But this seems as though I am being arrested. I have done nothing to warrant that."
"Say, rather, that it seems you are being given an escort of honor--if you delay me no further."
Seldon delayed no further. He pressed his lips together, as though to block off further questions, nodded his head, and stepped forward. Even if he was going to meet the Emperor and to receive Imperial commendation, he found no joy in it. He was for the Empire--that is, for the worlds of humanity in peace and union--but he was not for the Emperor.
The lieutenant walked ahead, the other two behind. Seldon smiled at those he passed and managed to look unconcerned. Outside the hotel they climbed into an official ground-car. (Seldon ran his hand over the upholstery; he had never been in anything so ornate.)
They were in one of the wealthiest sections of Trantor. The dome was high enough here to give a sensation of being in the open and one could swear--even one such as Hari Seldon, who had been born and brought up on an open world--that they were in sunlight. You could see no sun and no shadows, but the air was light and fragrant.
And then it passed and the dome curved down and the walls narrowed in and soon they were moving along an enclosed tunnel, marked periodically with the Spaceship-and-Sun and so clearly reserved (Seldon thought) for official vehicles.
A door opened and the ground-car sped through. When the door closed behind them, they were in the open--the true, the real open. There were 250 square kilometers of the only stretch of open land on Trantor and on it stood the Imperial Palace. Seldon would have liked a chance to wander through that open land--not because of the Palace, but because it also contained the Galactic University and, most intriguing of all, the Galactic Library.
And yet, in passing from the enclosed world of Trantor into the open patch of wood and parkland, he had passed into a world in which clouds dimmed the sky and a chill wind ruffled his shirt. He pressed the contact that closed the ground-car's window.
It was a dismal day outside.
Seldon was not at all sure he would meet the Emperor. At best, he would meet some official in the fourth or fifth echelon who would claim to speak for the Emperor.
How many people ever did see the Emperor? In person, rather than on holovision? How many people saw the real, tangible Emperor, an Emperor who never left the Imperial grounds that he, Seldon, was now rolling over.
The number was vanishingly small. Twenty-five million inhabited worlds, each with its cargo of a billion human beings or more--and among all those quadrillions of human beings, how many had, or would ever, lay eyes on the living Emperor. A thousand?
And did anyone care? The Emperor was no more than a symbol of Empire, like the Spaceship-and-Sun but far less pervasive, far less real. It was his soldiers and his officials, crawling everywhere, that now represented an Empire that had become a dead weight upon its people--not the Emperor.
So it was that when Seldon was ushered into a moderately sized, lavishly furnished room and found a young-looking man sitting on the edge of a table in a windowed alcove, one foot on the ground and one swinging over the edge, he found himself wondering that any official should be looking at him in so blandly good-natured a way. He had already experienced the fact, over and over, that government officials--and particularly those in the Imperial service--looked grave at all times, as though bearing the weight of the entire Galaxy on their shoulders. And it seemed the lower in importance they were, the graver and more threatening their expression.
This, then, might be an official so high in the scale, with the sun of power so bright upon him, that he felt no need of countering it with clouds of frowning.
Seldon wasn't sure how impressed he ought to be, but he felt that it would be best to remain silent and let the other speak first.
The official said, "You are Hari Seldon, I believe. The mathematician."
Seldon responded with a minimal "Yes, sir," and waited again.
The young man waved an arm. "It should be 'Sire,' but I hate ceremony. It's all I get and I weary of it. We are alone, so I will pamper myself and eschew ceremony. Sit down, professor."
Halfway through the speech, Seldon realized that he was speaking to the Emperor Cleon, First of that Name, and he felt the wind go out of him. There was a faint resemblance (now that he looked) to the official holograph that appeared constantly in the news, but in that holograph, Cleon was always dressed imposingly, seemed taller, nobler, frozen-faced.
And here he was, the original of the holograph, and somehow he appeared to be quite ordinary.
Seldon did not budge.
The Emperor frowned slightly and, with the habit of command present even in the attempt to abolish it, at least temporarily, said peremptorily, "I said, 'Sit down,' man. That chair. Quickly."
Seldon sat down, quite speechless. He could not even bring himself to say, "Yes, Sire."
Cleon smiled. "That's better. Now we can talk like two fellow human beings, which, after all, is what we are once ceremony is removed. Eh, my man?"
Seldon said cautiously, "If Your Imperial Majesty is content to say so, then it is so."
"Oh, come, why are you so cautious? I want to talk to you on equal terms. It is my pleasure to do so. Humor me."
"A simple 'Yes,' man. Is there no way I can reach you?"
Cleon stared at Seldon and Seldon thought it was a lively and interested stare.
Finally the Emperor said, "You don't look like a mathematician."
At last, Seldon found himself able to smile. "I don't know what a mathematician is supposed to look like, Your Imp--"
Cleon raised a cautioning hand and Seldon choked off the honorific.
Cleon said, "White-haired, I suppose. Bearded, perhaps. Old, certainly."
"Yet even mathematicians must be young to begin with."
"But they are then without reputation. By the time they obtrude themselves on the notice of the Galaxy, they are as I have described."
"I am without reputation, I'm afraid."
"Yet you spoke at this convention they held here."
"A great many of us did. Some were younger than myself. Few of us were granted any attention whatever."
"Your talk apparently attracted the attention of some of my officials. I am given to understand that you believe it possible to predict the future."
Seldon suddenly felt weary. It seemed as though this misinterpretation of his theory was constantly going to occur. Perhaps he should not have presented his paper.
He said, "Not quite, actually. What I have done is much more limited than that. In many systems, the situation is such that under some conditions chaotic events take place. That means that, given a particular starting point, it is impossible to predict outcomes. This is true even in some quite simple systems, but the more complex a system, the more likely it is to become chaotic. It has always been assumed that anything as complicated as human society would quickly become chaotic and, therefore, unpredictable. What I have done, however, is to show that, in studying human society, it is possible to choose a starting point and to make appropriate assumptions that will suppress the chaos. That will make it possible to predict the future, not in full detail, of course, but in broad sweeps; not with certainty, but with calculable probabilities."
- Publisher : Del Rey (December 15, 2020)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 448 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0593159977
- ISBN-13 : 978-0593159972
- Item Weight : 12 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.45 x 0.88 x 8.24 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #263,563 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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But there are some compelling ideas here for both Foundation newcomers and longtime fans of the original books, often presented in fun ways. In particular, the novel examines the idea of personal cluelessness about one’s genius, and how it sometimes takes others to fill a person in about one's own potential. Here, Hari is presented as someone who thinks he’s just a modest mathematician, with maybe a few creative ideas worthy of writing an esoteric paper on, but nothing more. But once Hari delivers his paper at a conference, the most powerful six or seven forces in the universal hierarchy immediately wrestle and compete with each other to grab up Hari and his ideas first, recognizing their potential to shape the future. And even then Hari is slow to say, “Hmmmm, maybe I’ve got something here.”
“Prelude to Foundation” is pretty much a chase novel set in a fascinating, far flung future, with a nice level of attention given over to the ways people live and interact, and other humanitarian concerns. Dr.Asimov also uses “Prelude to Foundation” to tie some of his other famous books into the continuity of the Foundation books, specifically novels in his “Empire” and “Robot” series. At this point, that move neither overly complicates nor greatly improves the Foundation series, though it does add a bit of interesting texture, so it’ll be fascinating to see where things go in the other Foundation prequel/sequels.
If you’re interested, here are the seven books in the Foundation series, presented in chronological order of the events they depict: “Prelude to Foundation” (the first prequel to the original trilogy), “Forward the Foundation” (second prequel to the original trilogy); “Foundation” (book one of the original trilogy); “Foundation and Empire” (book two of the original trilogy); “Second Foundation” (book three of the original trilogy); “Foundation’s Edge” (first sequel to the original trilogy); and “Foundation and Earth” (second and final sequel to the original trilogy).
Finally, you should know that HBO is now developing the Foundation books as an ongoing television series, hence my renewed interest in the original trilogy (which I once read way back when) and the prequels/sequels (which are new to me). Personally, I think it’ll be fun to shoot through all seven books prior to the premiere of the show.
After disappointing Emperor Cleon I he kicks Hari out but orders that his men spy on Hari as he might try telling the other leaders his theory. While sitting in a park thinking of what to do next Hari meets a journalist Chetter Hummin which saves him from two thugs trying to steal Hari's paper with his Pyschohistory. With Hummin's help he gets Hari away from the Emperor by taking him to Streeling University where he'll be safe and can start working on his Pyschohistory.
Hari meets a history teacher Dors Venabili who helps him and has a crush on her. However Hari is unable to get his theory to work and states he needs to study the oldest human records so Hummin's help again he sends both Hari and Dors to Aurora an dry desert planet with a mixture of Indian and Middle East culture to it. While not religious however the people on Aurora are strict with rules such as women aren't allowed to talk to men unless they are told to and must cover up their heads since having hair is seen bad.
This is where I got bored and couldn't stand this part in the novel and start drawing questions. It seems Hummin has contacts where ever he goes and gets help from anybody yet not once in Prelude to Foundation does it show anything that Hummin claims has done. I also found Hari Seldon to be a jerk at times and was even questioning his so called "Pyschohistory" feeling he was trying scam people with it. But by far the worst part in this novel was going to the planet of Aurora where people are called Raindrop 45 or Grey Cloud III, they have stupid rules of covering up hair seeing it as a bad thing so everyone is bald and women are treated like slaves and yet the people of Aurora are in charge of running micro farms which grow all the food for every planet.
This scene just didn't feel like it belonged in the story it would made more sense if every planet had it's own micro farm or factory rather then having this one planet doing it. While this novel is detailed I'm disappointed with this series. I had such high expectations for Foundation series thinking it was going to be more about these emperors fighting each other on different planers. Not boring characters trying to make some theory work. And when I tried to read the first novel in the Foundation series I lost interest in it. I'll continue this review of Foundation series on 1st novel.
Asimov lays out much of the mystery of the empire with Earth origins lost and mythologized. Trantor is presented as a sprawling megaopolis with endless subgroups of odd and arcane cults with their own peccadilloes. While Hari is portrayed in later volumes as an elder statesman, here he is a young, vibrant, but naive off-worlder who nevertheless can handle himself in a fight and does so often.
Note: the Kindle version is poorly rendered with numerous typos, missing lines and repeated text. While it is an annoyance, this conversion needs a good proof-reading before release.