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Forward the Foundatio cover

Cover for Asimov's Forward the Foundation

Forward the Foundation is a novel written by Isaac Asimov. It is one of two prequels to the Foundation series.

Spoiler
This article, Forward the Foundation, contains spoilers. Be forewarned, plot and/or ending details follow.
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Summary

Ten years after the events of Prelude to Foundation, Hari Seldon is settled in his job. He's married to Dors Venabili, has adopted Raych and has managed to bring Yugo Amaryl from Dahl to work with him in the development of Psychohistory from hypothetical concept and "set of vague axioms" to "profound statistical science" and practical application in galactic events.

Eto Demerzel, the Empire's First Minister comes to him for help with trouble: a populist politician called Laskin Joranum is plotting to destabilize the Imperial government in order to take the throne for himself. Joranum meets with Hari and Raych in a failed attempt to get Hari to join him, but then he shows a strange focus on Raych's stories of Demerzel's strange behavior: soon enough, several advertisements denounce Demerzel as a robot. However, the stories were a ruse, as Hari has realized that Joranum comes from Mycogen. After Demerzel "proves" he's not a robot by laughing in public, he blackmails Joranum into accepting exile to the planet he claims to come from. This, however, has put Demerzel too much on the public eye, and Emperor Cleon I decides to name Hari Seldon as the new First Minister.

Ten years later, Seldon's involvement in galactic politics has pushed him away from his work on psychohistory, but he cannot abandon his position because his successor may cut off the funding for psychohistory. While Emperor Cleon I decides to reward gardener Mandell Gruber (against his will) with a promotion to head gardener, Hari learns a conspiracy funded by Gleb Andorin, nephew of former Mayor Rachelle of Wye, is plotting to kill him. Raych offers to infiltrate the conspiracy, but its leader, Namarti (who was an associate of Joranum) easily recognizes Raych and has him drugged and brainwashed to use him as a weapon. The murder attempt (which takes place at a ceremony where the new gardeners are welcomed by the head gardener and the First Minister) is foiled by Manella Dubanqua, an undercover agent, who kills Andorin before he can order Raych to shoot his father. In the confusion, Gruber runs away and is found after he kills the Emperor.

Hari soon renounces his office while a military junta takes over, and he returns to research. Raych marries Manella and they have two children, Wanda and Bellis. The junta slowly pressures Hari into producing practical applications of psychohistory by threatening to cut off his funding, but Seldon resists, knowing both that psychohistory cannot yet give any useful data and that, in the hands of the junta, such a tool would either lose its worth or become misused. Unfortunately, not everyone in his research team shares his concerns, such as Tamwile Elar, who plots to kill Dors (whom he has guessed is a robot) in the expectation that Hari will fade away from the project. When he tries to put his plan through, though, the device only damages Dors, who kills Elar (thus breaking the First Law of Robotics) before dying herself in Hari's arms.

In the following years, Hari's losses continue. Raych takes his wife and his youngest daughter to Santanni, with Wanda remaining behind with her grandfather because she "convinces" her parents to allow her so - showing a powerful "mentallic" ability that allows her to manipulate and read minds. Yugo Amaryl dies from overwork, suggesting to Seldon to gather people like Wanda to form the nucleus of a group that will watch over the development of psychohistory. When Santanni explodes in rebellion, Raych dies in a defense of its university while the ship carrying Manella and Bellis to Anacreon disappears mid-travel.

The military junta has been replaced by a new democratic government, with young Agis XIV as a powerless Emperor that nonetheless tries to make some good with what he can. Agis becomes a friend to Seldon during the years of his reign, until he mysteriously "disappears" at the hand of the Commission of Public Safety, which replaces Agis with a puppet Emperor while they become the true power behind the throne.

As this happens, the state of the Empire starts to worsen. While Hari continues his work, now supported by Wanda, he gets in trouble with the law twice, the second causing a large trial after a boy lies over his actions. This, however, allows Hari and Wanda to find out that Stettin Palver, another member of the psychohistory research project, also has mentallic powers. Between the two, they manage to find more people with power, and Hari decides to send them to hide in Trantor, so they can forge the Second Foundation.

Years later, Hari dies alone in the building that once hosted his project, with the full knowledge that, by his actions, the two Foundations that will form the Second Galactic Empire (the First Foundation on the planet Terminus, the Second Foundation on Trantor itself) have been born. His last word is a call to his wife, Dors.

Isaac Asimov Novels
Robot Series: The Caves of Steel | The Naked Sun | The Robots of Dawn | Robots and Empire
Empire Series: The Stars Like Dust | The Currents of Space | Pebble in the Sky
Foundation Series: Prelude to Foundation | Forward the Foundation | Foundation | Foundation and Empire | Second Foundation | Foundation's Edge | Foundation and Earth