Foundation and Empire

Isaac Asimov


Asimov, Isaac. Foundation and Empire. 1952. New York, NY: Bantam Spectra, 1991. Paperback: 9780553293371.


“The Foundation novels of Isaac Asimov are one of the great masterworks of science fiction. Unsurpassed for their unique blend of nonstop action, daring ideas, and extensive worldbuilding, they chronicle the struggle of a courageous group of men and women to preserve humanity's light against an inexorable tide of darkness and violence. Led by its founding father, the great psychohistorian Hari Seldon, and taking advantage of its superior science and technology, the Foundation has survived the greed and barbarism of its neighboring warrior-planets. Yet now it must face the Empirestill the mightiest force in the Galaxy even in its death throes. When an ambitious general determined to restore the Empire's glory turns the vast Imperial fleet toward the Foundation, the only hope for the small planet of scholars and scientists lies in the prophecies of Hari Seldon. But not even Hari Seldon could have predicted the birth of the extraordinary creature called the Mule-a mutant intelligence with a power greater than a dozen battle fleets.... a power that can turn the strongest-willed human into an obedient slave.”


“Hari Seldon, the man who represented the one spark of creative effort left among the gathering decay” (1)

“Psychohistory dealt not with man, but man-masses. It was the science of mobs; mobs in their billions” (1)

“Under Hober Mallow, the first of the Foundation’s Merchant Princes, they developed the techniques of economic warfare” (2)

“Strange and improbable tales fancifully-repeated by hundreds and murkilyknown to thousands intrigued the last faculty” (8)

“The general recognized the small black-ivroid boxes that lined the shelves to be books. Their titles were unfamiliar. He guessed that the large structure at one end of the room was the receiver that transmuted the books into sight-and-sound on demand. He had never seen one in operation; but he had heard of them” (9)

“books were for old men. And half the stories told about the old days were mythical anyway. More than half” (9)

“an uninformed public tends to confuse scholarship with magicianry” (10)

“I connect scholarship with nothing but the means of answering difficult questions” (10)

“who are the magicians? The real ones.”
“Barr seemed startled at a title long-unused. He said, ‘There are no magicians’” (10)

“My own knowledge is the result of two accidents” (13)

“And where did you find out all this? You seem to know it in detail” (16)

“‘I don’t and never did,’ said the patrician with composure. ‘It is the painful result of the piecing together of certain evidence discovered by my father and a little more found by myself. The basis is flimsy and the superstructure has been romanticized into existence to fill the huge gaps. But I am convinced that it is essentially true’” (16)

“They move slowly, phlegmatically; they speak of necessary centuries. They swallow worlds at leisure; creep through systems with dawdling complacence” (27)

“You are getting mystical, and I always find it difficult to penetrate another person’s mysticism” (29)

“It is a strange science. It reached mathematical maturity with one man, Hari Seldon, and died with him, for no man since has been capable of manipulating its intricacies” (30)

“still another newly-discovered book, or forgery more like, will be used as authority” (34)

“There is not one who can count a pulse-beat without a book of the ancients before him” (34)

“[The Emperor, of General Bel Riose]: He seems to be a curious atavism” (35)

“He is a dreamer of ancient times, or rather, of the myths of what ancient times used to be. Such men are harmless in themselves, but their queer lack of realism makes them fools for others” (36)

“Trantor … it was more than a planet; it was the living pulse beat of an Empire of twenty million stellar systems. It had only one function, administration; one purpose, government; and one manufactured product, law. The entire world was one functional distortion” (85)

“the forty billions of humans who gave nothing in exchange but the fulfillment of the necessity of untangling the myriads of threads that spiraled into the central administration of the most complex government Humanity had ever known” (86)

“Twenty agricultural worlds were the granary Trantor. A universe was its servant” (86)

“a world conceived in paper work and dedicated to the principle of the form-in-quadruplicate” (86)

“Words are a pretty fuzzy substitute for mathematical equations” (96)

“our individual plots were unnecessary and rather futile” (97)

“a relic of personal initiative in a Galaxy of mass life” (107)

“the triple disease of inertia, despotism, and maldistribution of the goods of the universe” (111)

“The laws of history are as absolute as the laws of physics, and if the probabilities of error are greater, it is only because history does not deal with as many humans as physics does atoms, so that individual variations count for more” (112)

“Captain Han Pritcher … discouraged self-analysis and all forms of philosophy and metaphysics not directly connected with his work” (118)

“My experience and my knowledge of events … make it plain” (123)

“Yet Seldon’s science is known—only to Seldon. We ourselves have but faith” (125)

“Can a genetic acc dent of unpredictable biological properties be taken into account in the Seldon plan?” (148)

“the Foundation has always worked blindly along the course of historical necessity” (154)

“The thought-pattern evoked has religious characteristics, and you know what that means” (199)

“Characterized by strong faith reactions. Beliefs can’t be shaken short of a major shock, in which case, a fairly complete mental disruption results” (199)

“It’s a fundamental error. You live in the exploded past” (210)

“the aging psychologist transcribed endless equations, cross-referred to endless book-films, scurried endlessly about in a wild mental effort toward an end he alone saw” (250)

“The Mule is a mutant. He can not be beaten in the very nature of the mutation … Your knowledge won’t hurt him. You see—he is capable of adjusting the emotional balance of human beings. It sounds like a little trick, but it’s quite unbeatable” (252)

“Of what value are your opinions? You’ve lost all power of objective thought” (254)

“Isn’t it just like an axiom in geometry—things equal to the same thing are equal to each other?” (274)

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