Foundation's Fear

Foundation's Fear (1997) is a science fiction novel by American writer Gregory Benford, set in Isaac Asimov's Foundation universe. It is the first book of the Second Foundation trilogy, which was written after Asimov's death by three authors, authorized by the Asimov estate.

Foundation's Fear
Cover of the Harper Prism edition
AuthorGregory Benford
Cover artistJ.P. Targete
CountryUnited States
SeriesThe Second Foundation Trilogy
GenreScience fiction
PublisherHarper Prism
Publication date
February 1997
Media typePrint (hardback & paperback)
Preceded byPrelude to Foundation 
Followed byForward the Foundation 

Plot summary

Emperor Cleon I wants to appoint Hari Seldon as the First Minister of the Galactic Empire. Powerful Trantor High Council member Betan Lamurk opposes the independent Seldon’s appointment. Seldon himself is reluctant to accept the position because of its time constraints pulling him away from the psychohistory project. The project is led by Seldon, Yugo Amaryl, and Seldon’s advanced humaniform robot-spouse Dors Venabili. Seldon needs to curry favor with the emperor, however, and advises Cleon I informally. For example, Seldon suggests a decree that erases terrorists' names from records, denying them immortality, discouraging chaotic actions.

Besides the psychohistorians, much of the novel's action revolves around advanced sentient simulations (sims) of Joan of Arc and Voltaire. The sims have been recreated by Artifice Associates, a research company located in Trantor’s Dahl Sector. Artifice Associates programmers Marq and Sybil plan to use the Joan/ Voltaire sims for two money-making projects. First, Hari Seldon’s psychohistory project. Second, Trantor’s Junin-Sector “Preservers vs Skeptics Society” debate whether mechanical beings endowed with artificial intelligence should be built. And if so, whether they should receive full citizenship. The Preservers’ champion will be Joan, the Skeptics’ champion Voltaire.

Hari Seldon and Dors Venabili flee Trantor, escaping High Council member Betan Lamurk’s forces. During their galactic odyssey, Hari and Dors experience virtual reality as chimpanzees on planet Panucopia. They also visit helter-skelter New Renaissance world Sark.

Meanwhile, back on Trantor, sims Joan and Voltaire escape into Trantor’s Mesh (Internet). Joan and Voltaire interact with ancient aliens on the Mesh. These aliens fled Trantor's physical space when terraforming robots arrived on Trantor more than 20,000 years ago. Via Joan and Voltaire, Hari allies with the mesh aliens. The aliens aid Seldon’s return to Trantor, and his defeat of High Council member Lamurk through tik-toks. The novel ends with Seldon accepting his position as Emperor Cleon’s First Minister.[1]


  1. ^ Benford, Gregory. The Second Foundation Trilogy: Foundation's Fear. HarperTorch. February 1998.
Foundation series

The Foundation series is a science fiction book series written by American author Isaac Asimov. For nearly thirty years, the series was a trilogy: Foundation, Foundation and Empire, and Second Foundation. It won the one-time Hugo Award for "Best All-Time Series" in 1966. Asimov began adding to the series in 1981, with two sequels: Foundation's Edge, Foundation and Earth, and two prequels: Prelude to Foundation, Forward the Foundation. The additions made reference to events in Asimov's Robot and Empire series, indicating that they were also set in the same fictional universe.

The premise of the series is that the mathematician Hari Seldon spent his life developing a branch of mathematics known as psychohistory, a concept of mathematical sociology. Using the laws of mass action, it can predict the future, but only on a large scale. Seldon foresees the imminent fall of the Galactic Empire, which encompasses the entire Milky Way, and a dark age lasting 30,000 years before a second great empire arises. Seldon's calculations also show there is a way to limit this interregnum to just one thousand years. To ensure the more favorable outcome and reduce human misery during the intervening period, Seldon creates the Foundation – a group of talented artisans and engineers positioned at the twinned extreme ends of the galaxy – to preserve and expand on humanity's collective knowledge, and thus become the foundation for the accelerated resurgence of this new galactic empire.

Gregory Benford

Gregory Benford (born January 30, 1941) is an American science fiction author and astrophysicist who is on the faculty of the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of California, Irvine. He is also a contributing editor of Reason magazine.As a science fiction author, Benford is perhaps best known for the Galactic Center Saga novels, beginning with In the Ocean of Night (1977). This series postulates a galaxy in which sentient organic life is in constant warfare with sentient electromechanical life.

In 1969 he wrote "The Scarred Man", the first story about a computer virus, published in 1970.

Gregory Benford bibliography

A bibliography of works by American science fiction author Gregory Benford.

Hari Seldon

Hari Seldon is a fictional character in Isaac Asimov's Foundation series. In his capacity as mathematics professor at Streeling University on the planet Trantor, Seldon develops psychohistory, an algorithmic science that allows him to predict the future in probabilistic terms. On the basis of his psychohistory he is able to predict the eventual fall of the Galactic Empire and to develop a means to shorten the millennia of chaos to follow. The significance of his discoveries lies behind his nickname "Raven" Seldon.

In the first five books of the Foundation series, Hari Seldon made only one in-the-flesh appearance, in the first part of the first book (Foundation), although he did appear at other times in pre-recorded messages to reveal a Seldon Crisis. After writing five books in chronological order, Asimov went back with two books to better describe the initial process. The two prequels—Prelude to Foundation and Forward the Foundation—describe his life in considerable detail. He is also the central character of the Second Foundation Trilogy written after Asimov's death (Foundation's Fear by Gregory Benford, Foundation and Chaos by Greg Bear, and Foundation's Triumph by David Brin), which are set after Asimov's two prequels.

Isaac Asimov book series bibliography

This is a bibliography of books by Isaac Asimov organized by series chronologically and by series timeline (i.e. prequels first).

See also Isaac Asimov bibliography (chronological), Isaac Asimov bibliography (alphabetical), and Isaac Asimov short stories bibliography.

Three Laws of Robotics

The Three Laws of Robotics (often shortened to The Three Laws or known as Asimov's Laws) are a set of rules devised by the science fiction author Isaac Asimov. The rules were introduced in his 1942 short story "Runaround" (included in the 1950 collection I, Robot), although they had been foreshadowed in a few earlier stories. The Three Laws, quoted as being from the "Handbook of Robotics, 56th Edition, 2058 A.D.", are:

First Law – A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.

Second Law – A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.

Third Law – A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws.These form an organizing principle and unifying theme for Asimov's robotic-based fiction, appearing in his Robot series, the stories linked to it, and his Lucky Starr series of young-adult fiction. The Laws are incorporated into almost all of the positronic robots appearing in his fiction, and cannot be bypassed, being intended as a safety feature. Many of Asimov's robot-focused stories involve robots behaving in unusual and counter-intuitive ways as an unintended consequence of how the robot applies the Three Laws to the situation in which it finds itself. Other authors working in Asimov's fictional universe have adopted them and references, often parodic, appear throughout science fiction as well as in other genres.

The original laws have been altered and elaborated on by Asimov and other authors. Asimov himself made slight modifications to the first three in various books and short stories to further develop how robots would interact with humans and each other. In later fiction where robots had taken responsibility for government of whole planets and human civilizations, Asimov also added a fourth, or zeroth law, to precede the others:

A robot may not harm humanity, or, by inaction, allow humanity to come to harm.The Three Laws, and the zeroth, have pervaded science fiction and are referred to in many books, films, and other media, and have impacted thought on ethics of artificial intelligence as well.

Tik-Tok (Oz)

Tik-Tok is a fictional character from the Oz books by American author L. Frank Baum. He has been termed "the prototype robot," and is widely considered to be the one of the first robots (preceded by Edward S. Ellis' Huge Hunter, or The Steam Man of the Prairies, in 1868) to appear in modern literature, though the term "Robot" was not used until the 1920s, in the play R.U.R.


Trantor is a fictional planet in Isaac Asimov's Foundation Series and Empire series of science fiction novels.

Trantor was first mentioned in Asimov's short story, "Black Friar of the Flame", later collected in The Early Asimov, Volume 1. It was described as a human-settled planet in the part of the galaxy not ruled by an intelligent reptilian race (later defeated). Later, Trantor gained prominence when the 1940s Foundation series first appeared in print (in the form of short stories). Asimov described Trantor as being in the center of the galaxy. In later stories he acknowledged the growth in astronomical knowledge by retconning its position to be as close to the galactic center as was compatible with human habitability. The first time it was acknowledged in novel form was in Pebble in the Sky.

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