Foundation's Edge is a novel by Isaac Asimov, the fourth book in the Foundation Series. It was written thirty years after the Foundation trilogy, in 1982, due to pressure by fans on Asimov to write another, and, according to Asimov himself, the amount of the payment offered by the publisher. It was his first novel to ever land on the New York Times best-seller list, after 262 books and 44 years of writing.
| This article, Foundation's Edge, contains spoilers. Be forewarned, plot and/or ending details follow.
The Mayor of Terminus, Harla Branno, is basking in a political glow, after an appearance by the holographic Hari Seldon. Five hundred years after the Foundation's beginnings, her policies have been vindicated by Seldon's Plan. However, on this day, Golan Trevize, a Councilman with an unusual intuition, questions whether the Second Foundation, which is thought to be extinct, is still controlling events. He first makes his feelings known to a fellow Councilman, Munn Li Compor, who has sold Trevize out to the Mayor. Trevize then brazenly attacks Branno's policies in a Council meeting, in which he is arrested for treason and removed. Branno was waiting for Trevize to openly challenge her, on a day when her political power was highest, and contrives a plan to remove Trevize from Terminus. She orders him to leave and to search for the Second Foundation. As a cover, he is to be accompanied by one Janov Pelorat, a professor of Ancient History, who is searching for Earth, the long-lost homeworld of humanity.
Simultaneously, on the world of Trantor, Stor Gendibal, a young but rising intellect in the Second Foundation hierarchy, discovers a secret he reveals to the current First Speaker — that the Seldon Plan, which the Second Foundation diligently protects and furthers along, is controlled by an organization more powerful than the Second Foundation. He also asks why Trevize was exiled from Terminus, and believes he is a "lightning rod" sent out to locate and expose the Second Foundation.
Shortly after, while exercising before a Table meeting, Gendibal is accosted and nearly assaulted by Hamish farmers, and is saved by the tongue of a Hamishwoman berating the farmer. Although his mental powers can easily handle the Hamish, Gendibal knows he cannot enter their minds.
Mayor Harla Branno, fearing the Foundation Council will soon raise their voices in concern for Trevize, blackmails Compor and sends him out in another vessel to pursue Trevize.
Once at the Table meeting, Gendibal raises the hostility of the Table by making the accusation of attempted murder, as someone at the Table had plotted to make Gendibal late to the meeting by arranging the conflict with the farmers. Led by an opportunistic Table member, Delora Delarmi, the Table votes to impeach Gendibal.
Trevize and Pelorat, having been "exiled" in a very advanced new Foundation cruiser, start discussing Pelorat's interest in Earth and its legends. At first indifferent and dubious, Trevize becomes interested in Earth when he realizes that Seldon's phrase "at the other end of the Galaxy" (the phrase he used to describe the Second Foundation's location) could mean Earth, as being the very first world of humanity when compared to Terminus. He tells Pelorat that, instead of going to Trantor to study in the Galactic Library, they are going to the world of Sayshell to follow up on another historical lead of Pelorat's.
Meanwhile, after several days of waiting, the Second Foundation Table finally begins its trial of Gendibal. With only the First Speaker's weak support in the face of the Table unified under Delarmi's hostility, Gendibal decisively puts down the Table's effort by introducing a witness — the Hamishwoman who saved him. He shows the Table a very minute and subtle change in the woman's mind, that could only have been done by an agency more powerful than the Second Foundation, and warns that these "Anti-Mules" have an agenda of their own that the Second Foundation does not know, but are unwitting pawns of. He also warns that Trevize has moved halfway across the Galaxy in under half an hour, in his very advanced spacecraft, and has not gone to Trantor as predicted, but rather to Sayshell, for unknown reasons. Both Gendibal and the First Speaker try to move the Table into understanding that the Second Foundation may have very little time remaining in which to act.
The impeachment is suspended, but Delarmi maneuvers to have Gendibal and the Hamishwoman sent out in space to track Trevize and to determine the goals of the "Anti-Mules." Gendibal agrees, and the First Speaker declares that if Gendibal returns alive, he will make Gendibal the next First Speaker, thus quashing Delarmi's machinations for his post.
Trevize and Pelorat land in Sayshell and make for a tourist center to learn about local universities. They are met by Compor, who explains how he was manipulated by Mayor Branno and forced to follow Trevize. He tries to make peace with Trevize, and fails. He tells the two men a story about a radioactive Earth, and leaves. Trevize, using his intuition, realizes that Compor must be an agent of the Second Foundation.
On Sayshell, they meet with Professor Quinsentz, who is able to give them the co-ordinates to the mysterious Gaia. They discover that Gaia is a superorganism, where all things, both living and inanimate, are connected consciously. The planet is inhabited by humans, and Pelorat slowly falls in love with a woman (or so they think) named Bliss, and Trevize learns that he will be forced to decide the future of the galaxy.
Once he trades ships with Compor, Gendibal is met by another ship, a First Foundation warship, commanded by Mayor Branno. As Gendibal's mental powers stalemate with Mayor Branno's force shield, Novi reveals herself as an agent of Gaia. Once she joins the stalemate, the three are locked until Trevize can join them.
Bliss admits to Trevize that his being led to Gaia was done by them so he could make that an untouched mind, especially Trevize's because of his amazing intuition, could decide the galaxy's fate. He also learns that the stalemate between the First Foundation (Branno), the Second Foundation (Gendibal), and Gaia (Novi) was intentional, and that through the ship's computer, he would decide who would ultimately prove victorious.
Trevize decides upon Gaia, and through mind-changes, Gaia makes Branno and Gendibal believe they have won minor victories, and that Gaia doesn't exist. Trevize is troubled because he wants to know why he chose Gaia. The notion of his "intuition" wasn't, to his mind, enough. He needed to know, and he was sure Earth had something to do with it. Trevize also mentions that his choice of Gaia is because he knows he can change his decision, due to the slowness of Gaia's processes.