Prelude of Foundation cover

Prelude to Foundation is a science-fiction novel written by Isaac Asimov. It is one of two prequels to the Foundation series. For the first time, Asimov chronicles the life of Hari Seldon, the man who transformed Psychohistory from "little more than a set of vague axioms" to "a profound statistical science."

This article, Prelude to Foundation, contains spoilers. Be forewarned, plot and/or ending details follow.
Asimov says you decide.


On Trantor during the reign of Cleon I, Hari Seldon is at a mathematical convention, presenting Psychohistory as a purely hypothetical yet interesting possibility. Cleon's First minister, Eto Demerzel, sees the potential importance of Psychohistory and convinces Cleon to meet with the young Hari Seldon. Cleon hopes to use Psychohistory for political gain. After an interview with Hari, however, Cleon concludes that Hari is of no use to the Empire.

Hari Seldon, a provincial from Helicon in the Arcturus sector, is shocked about having actually met the Galactic Emperor and is still awed about Trantor's splendor. He regrets that he ever presented at the mathematical convention and is planing to leave Trantor immediately after sightseeing. However, Hari then meets reporter Chetter Hummin, who convinces him that Cleon's first minister Eto Demerzel is attempting to capture him. Hummin, being a reporter and seeing and hearing many things, has determined that the Empire is going to collapse. He feels that it is imperative that Seldon perfect Psychohistory so that he can make the fall of the empire as smooth as possible. Also seeing the danger of Psychohistory falling into the wrong hands, he plans to hide Seldon at Streeling University, until Seldon has succeeded in making Psychohistory practical. Hari then goes on the "Flight" with Dors Venabili, a close friend of Hummin.


Hari and Dors flee from one region of Trantor to another while attempting to escape the Emperor and learn the axioms of Psychohistory. They go to (in chronological order):

Hari and Dors narrowly avoid death again and again, meeting several people along the way who will feature prominently in Forward the Foundation.


"Hummin" is actually Cleon's first minister Eto Demerzel, who we later learn is, in reality, the positronic robot R. Daneel Olivaw. By the end of the novel, Hari suspects that Dors is a robot, too.

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