It is the year 12,020 G.E. and Emperor Cleon I sits uneasily on the Imperial throne of Trantor. Here in the great multidomed capital of the Galactic Empire, forty billion people have created a civilization of unimaginable technological and cultural complexity. Yet Cleon knows there are those who would see him fall - those whom he would destroy if only he could read the future. Hari Seldon has come to Trantor to deliver his paper on psychohistory, his remarkable theory of prediction. Little does the young Outworld mathematician know that he has already sealed his fate and the fate of humanity. For Hari possesses the prophetic power that makes him the most wanted man in the Empire... the man who holds the key to the future - an apocalyptic power to be know forever after as the Foundation.
To Emperor Cleon I, the science of psychohistory seems to offer the opportunity to predict and direct the course of his Galactic Empire. To Hari Seldon, discoverer of the still theoretical science, it becomes a nightmare as the young historian becomes the most wanted man in the colonized universe. An intricately twisted plot, uncomplicated but amiable characters, and an abundance of leisurely explication mark Asimov's latest addition to his classic Foundation novels. While familiarity with earlier titles is not necessary, series followers will particularly enjoy this prequel. Recommended.JC (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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March 01, 1989
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Excerpt from Prelude to Foundation by Isaac Asimov
CLEON I-- . . . The last Galactic Emperor of the Entun dynasty. He was born in the year 11,988 of the Galactic Era, the same year in which Hari Seldon was born. (It is thought that Seldon's birthdate, which some consider doubtful, may have been adjusted to match that of Cleon, whom Seldon, soon after his arrival on Trantor, is supposed to have encountered.) 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 . . . ENCYCLOPEDIA GALACTICA* 1 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