Second Foundation cover

Cover for Asimov's Second Foundation

Second Foundation is a science-fiction novel written by Isaac Asimov. It is the last of the classic Foundation Trilogy in the Foundation Series. The book is made up of two parts which were originally published separately in Astounding Science Fiction. The first part appeared in the January 1948 issue of Astounding under the title "Now You See It--", while the second appeared in the November 1949, December 1949, and January 1950 issues under the title "--And Now You Don't."

This article, Second Foundation (novel), contains spoilers. Be forewarned, plot and/or ending details follow.
Asimov says you decide.


Second Foundation is written in two distinct parts:

Part I: Search By The Mule, which began (see above) as "Now You See It--" in Astounding Science Fiction, is about The Mule's search for the elusive Second Foundation, with the intent of destroying it. In the end, the First Speaker of the Second Foundation telepathically modifies the Mule to make him not care about finding the Second Foundation.

Part II: Search By The Foundation began in Astounding Science Fiction (see above) as "--And Now You Don't." It takes place a few decades after the first part, some years after the Mule's death (by natural causes). The members of the First Foundation are now fully aware that the Second Foundation is out there. (They had actually known generally of its existence all along, but this marks their first gaining of specific knowledge about it.) Also, it chronicles the Foundation's ongoing conflict with the Mule's former imperial capital at Kalgan. The ensuing war is won by the Foundation, and is listed in the Encyclopedia Galactica as the last major conflict before the rise of the Second Empire.

After inventing a "Mind Static device" that jams telepathic abilities while simultaneously causing telepaths great pain, the Foundation finds and locates telepaths on Terminus, "at the other end of the galaxy" from the first Foundation, also at Terminus, since, as Arcadia "Arkady" Darrell puts it, "a circle has no end." Thus, they declare the Second Foundation destroyed after finding roughly 50 mentalic agents on Terminus.

The Second Foundation was actually located on Trantor, at the center of the galaxy. It was called Star's End due to the ancient saying, "All roads lead to Trantor, and that is where all stars end." The location was also said to fit the "other end of the galaxy" location, since the galaxy is, in fact, not a disc, but a double spiral--and from the edge, the other end of the spiral lies at the center. The book also notes (through statements "made" by Preem Palver, First "Speaker" of the Second Foundation) that Hari Seldon was a social scientist, NOT a physical one. When the two Foundations were founded, they could be described as being at opposite social ends of the Galaxy--with Trantor at the very center of galactic power and prestige and Terminus at the other extreme, completely lacking in both.

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

See Also

List of Books by Isaac Asimov

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