As the Mule comes closer to finding it, the mysterious Second Foundation comes briefly out of hiding to face the threat directly. It consists of the descendants of Seldon's psychohistorians.
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While the first Foundation has developed the physical sciences, the Second Foundation has been developing Seldon's mathematics and the Seldon Plan, along with their own use of mental sciences. The Second Foundation ultimately wears down the Mule, who returns to rule over his kingdom peacefully for the rest of his life, without any further thought of conquering the Second Foundation. However, as a result, the first Foundation has learned something of the Second Foundation beyond the simple fact that it exists, and has some understanding of its role.
This means their behavior will now be chosen in light of that knowledge, and not based on uninformed natural human behavior, which means their behavior will no longer be the natural responses required by the mathematics of the Seldon Plan. This places the Plan itself at great risk. Additionally, the first Foundation instead starts to resentfully consider the other as a rival, and begins to develop equipment related to detecting and blocking mental influence, in order to detect members of the Second Foundation.
After many attempts to unravel the Second Foundation's whereabouts from the minimal clues available, the Foundation is led to believe the Second Foundation is located on Terminus being the "opposite end" of a galaxy, for a galaxy with a circular shape. The Foundation uncovers and destroys a group of fifty members of the Second Foundation and is left believing they have destroyed the Second Foundation.
No longer concerned at the perceived threat, their behaviors as a society will tend to be those anticipated by the Plan. In fact the group of fifty were volunteers on Terminus whose role was to be captured and give the impression that they composed the whole of the Second Foundation, so that the Seldon Plan would be able to continue unimpeded.
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The Second Foundation, itself, is finally revealed to be located on the former Imperial Homeworld of Trantor. The clue "at Star's End" was not a physical clue, but was instead based on an old saying, "All roads lead to Trantor, and that is where all stars end. The first Foundation was located on the Periphery of the galaxy, where the Empire's influence was minimal; the Second Foundation was on Trantor, where, even in its dying days, the Empire's power and culture was strongest. Believing the Second Foundation still exists despite the common belief that it has been extinguished , young politician Golan Trevize is sent into exile by the current Mayor of the Foundation, Harla Branno , to uncover the Second Foundation; Trevize is accompanied by a scholar named Janov Pelorat.
The reason for their belief is that, despite the unforeseeable impact of the Mule, the Seldon Plan still appears to be proceeding in accordance with the statements of Seldon's hologram, suggesting that the Second Foundation still exists and is secretly intervening to bring the plan back on course. After a few conversations with Pelorat, Trevize comes to believe that a mythical planet called Earth may hold the secret to the location.
No such planet exists in any database, yet several myths and legends all refer to it, and it is Trevize's belief that the planet is deliberately being kept hidden.
Unknown to Trevize and Pelorat, Branno is tracking their ship so that, in the event they find the Second Foundation, the first Foundation can take military or other action. Meanwhile, Stor Gendibal , a prominent member of the Second Foundation, discovers a simple local on Trantor who has had a very subtle alteration made to her mind, far more delicate than anything the Second Foundation can do. He concludes that a greater force of Mentalics must be active in the Galaxy.
Following the events on Terminus, Gendibal endeavors to follow Trevize, reasoning that by doing so, he may find out who has altered the mind of the Trantor native.
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Using the few scraps of reliable information within the various myths, Trevize and Pelorat discover a planet called Gaia which is inhabited solely by Mentalics, to such an extent that every organism and inanimate object on the planet shares a common mind. Both Branno and Gendibal, who have separately followed Trevize, also reach Gaia at the same time.
Gaia reveals that it has engineered this situation because it wishes to do what is best for humanity but cannot be sure what is best. Trevize's purpose, faced with the leaders of both the First and Second Foundations and Gaia itself, is to be trusted to make the best decision among the three main alternatives for the future of the human race: the First Foundation's path, based on mastery of the physical world and its traditional political organization i.
After Trevize makes his decision for Gaia's path, the intellect of Gaia adjusts both Branno's and Gendibal's minds so that each believes he or she has succeeded in a significant task. Branno believes she has successfully negotiated a treaty tying Sayshell to the Foundation, and Gendibal — now leader and First Speaker of the Second Foundation — believes that the Second Foundation is victorious and should continue as normal.
Trevize remains, but is uncertain as to why he has intuited is "sure" that Gaia is the correct outcome for the future. Still uncertain about his decision, Trevize continues on with the search for Earth along with Pelorat and a local of Gaia, advanced in Mentalics, known as Blissenobiarella usually referred to simply as Bliss.
Eventually, Trevize finds three sets of coordinates which are very old. Adjusting them for time, he realizes that his ship's computer does not list any planet in the vicinity of the coordinates. When he physically visits the locations, he rediscovers the forgotten worlds of Aurora , Solaria , and finally Melpomenia.
After searching and facing different dilemmas on each planet, Trevize still has not discovered any answers. Aurora and Melpomenia are long deserted, but Solaria contains a small population which is extremely advanced in the field of Mentalics.
When the lives of the group are threatened, Bliss uses her abilities and the shared intellect of Gaia to destroy the Solarian who is about to kill them. This leaves behind a small child who will be put to death if left alone, so Bliss makes the decision to keep the child as they quickly escape the planet. Eventually, Trevize discovers Earth, but it, again, contains no satisfactory answers for him it is also long-since deserted. However, it dawns on Trevize that the answer may not be on Earth, but on Earth's satellite — the Moon. Upon approaching the planet, they are drawn inside the Moon's core, where they meet a robot named R.
Daneel Olivaw. Olivaw explains that he has been instrumental in guiding human history for thousands of years, having provided the impetus for Seldon to create psychohistory and also the creation of Gaia, but is now close to the end of his ability to maintain himself and will cease to function. Despite replacing his positronic brain which contain 20, years of memories , he is going to die shortly. He explains that no further robotic brain can be devised to replace his current one, or which will let him continue assisting for the benefit of humanity.
However, some additional time can be won to ensure the long term benefit of humanity by merging R.
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Daniel Olivaw's mind with the organic intellect of a human — in this case, the intellect of the child that the group rescued on Solaria. Once again, Trevize is put in the position of deciding if having Olivaw meld with the child's superior intellect would be in the best interests of the galaxy. The decision is left ambiguous though likely a "yes" as it is implied that the melding of the minds may be to the child's benefit, but that she may have sinister intentions about it.
The plot of the series focuses on the growth and reach of the Foundation, against a backdrop of the "decline and fall of the Galactic Empire. The focus of the books is the trends through which a civilization might progress, specifically seeking to analyze their progress, using history as a precedent. Although many science fiction novels such as Nineteen Eighty-Four or Fahrenheit do this, their focus is upon how current trends in society might come to fruition, and act as a moral allegory on the modern world.
The Foundation series, on the other hand, looks at the trends in a wider scope, dealing with societal evolution and adaptation rather than the human and cultural qualities at one point in time. Furthermore, the concept of psychohistory, which gives the events in the story a sense of rational fatalism, leaves little room for moralization. Hari Seldon himself hopes that his Plan will "reduce 30, years of Dark Ages and barbarism to a single millennium," a goal of exceptional moral gravity. Yet events within it are often treated as inevitable and necessary, rather than deviations from the greater good.
For example, the Foundation slides gradually into oligarchy and dictatorship prior to the appearance of the galactic conqueror, known as the Mule , who was able to succeed through the random chance of a telepathic mutation. But, for the most part, the book treats the purpose of Seldon's plan as unquestionable, and that slide as being necessary in it, rather than mulling over whether the slide is, on the whole, positive or negative.
The books also wrestle with the idea of individualism. Hari Seldon's plan is often treated as an inevitable mechanism of society, a vast mindless mob mentality of quadrillions of humans across the galaxy. Many in the series struggle against it, only to fail. However, the plan itself is reliant upon the cunning of individuals such as Salvor Hardin and Hober Mallow to make wise decisions that capitalize on the trends. On the other hand, the Mule, a single individual with mental powers, topples the Foundation and nearly destroys the Seldon plan with his special, unforeseen abilities.
To repair the damage the Mule inflicts, the Second Foundation deploys a plan which turns upon individual reactions. Psychohistory is based on group trends and cannot predict with sufficient accuracy the effects of extraordinary, unforeseeable individuals, and as originally presented, the Second Foundation's purpose was to counter this flaw. Later novels would identify the Plan's uncertainties that remained at Seldon's death as the primary reason for the existence of the Second Foundation, which unlike the First had retained the capacity to research and further develop psychohistory.
Asimov tried unsuccessfully to end the series with Second Foundation.
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However, because of the predicted thousand years until the rise of the next Empire of which only a few hundred had elapsed , the series lacked a sense of closure. For decades, fans pressured him to write a sequel. In , after a year hiatus, Asimov gave in and wrote what was at the time a fourth volume: Foundation's Edge.
This was followed shortly thereafter by Foundation and Earth.
The story of this volume which takes place some years after Seldon ties up all the loose ends and brings together all of his Robot, Empire, and Foundation novels into a single story. He also opens a brand new line of thought in the last dozen pages regarding Galaxia , a galaxy inhabited by a single collective mind. This concept was never explored further.
According to his widow Janet Asimov in her biography of Isaac, It's Been a Good Life , he had no idea how to continue after Foundation and Earth , so he started writing the prequels. Early on during Asimov's original world-building of the Foundation universe, he established within the first published stories a chronology placing the tales about 50, years into the future from the time they were written circa This precept was maintained in the pages of his first novel Pebble in the Sky , wherein Imperial archaeologist Bel Arvardan refers to ancient human strata discovered in the Sirius sector dating back "some 50, years".
However, when Asimov decided decades later to retroactively integrate the universe of his Foundation and Galactic Empire novels with that of his Robot stories, a number of changes and minor discrepancies surfaced — the character R. Daneel Olivaw was established as having existed for some 20, years, with the original Robot novels featuring the character occurring not more than a couple of millennia after the earlyst century Susan Calvin short stories.
Also, in Foundation's Edge , mankind was referred to as having possessed interstellar space travel for only 22, years, a far cry from the 50 millennia of earlier works.
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In the spring of , Asimov published an early timeline in the pages of Thrilling Wonder Stories magazine based upon his thought processes concerning the Foundation universe's history at that point in his life, which vastly differs from its modern-era counterpart. Many included stories would later be either jettisoned from the later chronology or temporally relocated by the author. Also, the aforementioned lengthier scope of time was changed. For example, in the original s timeline, humanity does not discover the hyperspatial drive until around AD, whereas in the reincorporated Robot universe chronology, the first interstellar jump occurs in AD, during the events of I, Robot.
Below is a summarized timeline for events detailed in the series. In Learned Optimism ,  psychologist Martin Seligman identifies the Foundation series as one of the most important influences in his professional life, because of the possibility of predictive sociology based on psychological principles. He also lays claim to the first successful prediction of a major historical sociological event, in the US elections , and he specifically attributes this to a psychological principle.
In his book To Renew America , U. House Speaker Newt Gingrich wrote how he was influenced by reading the Foundation trilogy in high school. Paul Krugman , winner of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences , credits the Foundation series with turning his mind to economics, as the closest existing science to psychohistory. Businessman and entrepreneur Elon Musk counts the series among the inspirations for his career. In , the Foundation trilogy beat several other science fiction and fantasy series to receive a special Hugo Award for "Best All-Time Series".
Heinlein , Lensman series by Edward E. Smith and The Lord of the Rings by J. Asimov himself wrote that he assumed the one-time award had been created to honor The Lord of the Rings , and he was amazed when his work won. The series has won three other Hugo Awards. Foundation's Edge won Best Novel in , and was a bestseller for almost a year. Retrospective Hugo Awards were given in and for, respectively, "The Mule" the major part of Foundation and Empire for Best Novel and "Foundation" the first story written for the series, and second chapter of the first novel for Best Short Story For instance, "The Guide" of the former is a spoof of the Encyclopedia Galactica , and the series actually mentions the encyclopedia by name, remarking that it is rather "dry", and consequently sells fewer copies than the guide; the latter also features the ultra-urbanized Imperial planet Helior, often parodying the logistics such a planet-city would require, but that Asimov's novel downplays when describing Trantor.