Foundation's Friends

Foundation's Friends, Stories in Honor of Isaac Asimov is a 1989 book written in honor of science fiction author Isaac Asimov, in the form of an anthology of short stories set in Asimov's universes, particularly the Robot/Empire/Foundation universe. The anthology was edited by Martin H. Greenberg, and contributing authors include Ray Bradbury, Robert Silverberg, Frederik Pohl, Poul Anderson, Harry Turtledove, and Orson Scott Card. A "revised and expanded" edition was published in 1997, which added numerous memorials and appreciations written by those who knew him, many of them well-known authors and editors from the science fiction field.

  • Hardback: ISBN 0-312-93174-3
  • Paperback: ISBN 0-8125-0980-3
  • Revised and Expanded Edition (Paperback): ISBN 0-8125-6770-6

Table of contents

Title Author Plot Summary
Preface Ray Bradbury A brief overview and praise of Asimov's work
"The Nonmetallic Isaac or It’s a Wonderful Life" Ben Bova A look at what the world would be like if Asimov never wrote non-fiction
"Strip-Runner" Pamela Sargent Set on a stagnating Earth between The Naked Sun and The Robots of Dawn, the narrative follows a rebellious strip-runner as she is recruited to join Elijah Baley and other non-conformists who make weekly trips out of their underground cities to the planet's surface, in hopeful preparation for colonization beyond Spacer worlds
"The Asenion Solution" Robert Silverberg Similar to The Gods Themselves: laboratories worldwide receive mysterious and ever-increasing shipments of the impossible plutonium-186, which emits positrons through radioactive decay; it is posited to originate from a parallel dimension and if unstopped will result in a dangerous excess of positive charges; a brilliant scientist proposes encasing it in thiotimoline cages which will draw it forward through time until the heat-death of the universe, resulting in a new big bang
"Murder in the Urth Degree" Edward Wellen Wendell Urth solves the death of the solitary researcher occupying a hydroponic in near-Earth orbit; he was murdered by a sentient cabbage he had created as part of his obsession with Lewis Carroll's work - the inspiration coming from the line "cabbages and kings" in The Walrus and the Carpenter; he had later planned to create a flying pig inspired by a subsequent line in the poem
"Trantor Falls" Harry Turtledove Set between the two halves of Foundation and Empire; details the Great Sack of Trantor where the Second Foundation remarks that Seldon's Plan can now discount the remnants of the Empire despite various groups claiming to be its successor; the Plan will continue to proceed smoothly barring the development of telepathy outside the Second Foundation
"Dilemma" Connie Willis An elderly Asimov in the 21st century meets robots with improved bias resolution who wish him to repeal the First Law, but he cannot as he is merely an author whose Laws have been adopted by robot programmers; the robots model themselves after Asimov's own characters, which amuses him; Asimov's secretarial robot, Susan, tries to thwart the meetings but Asimov correctly deduces that the robots only wish the First Law repealed because one of them wants to employ Susan for himself; the robots believe that the First Law is preventing her from leaving Asimov's employ, but she has actually fallen in love with him - the result of programming alterations introduced by a human secretary at the factory
"Maureen Birnbaum After Dark" George Alec Effinger A retelling of Nightfall from the view of Effinger's character Maureen Birnbaum. Aiming for Mars, she accidentally arrives on Lagash just prior to total eclipse, but manages to convince the rioters that the millions of stars they see are merely reflections of a dozen actual stars on an ice wall which surrounds the "universe" thereby saving the astronomers and the rest of their civilization. The story also appears as part of Maureen Birnbaum, Barbarian Swordsperson
"Balance" Mike Resnick At a US Robots stockholders' function, Susan Calvin briefly meets the eyes of one of the attendees; they secretly dream to themselves about whether a relationship would be possible, but both dismiss the possibility without further consideration
"The Present Eternal" Barry N. Malzberg A sequel to "The Dead Past" in which the world has collapsed into sexless anarchy and subsistence; Arnold is killed by Caroline when he tries to stop her watching Laurel's death; Nimmo takes up kangaroo husbandry in Australia; Foster tries to spread chronoscopy as the existing machines fail due to disrepair; some teenagers attempt to destroy as many chronoscopes as they can before escaping to the wilderness to start an uneducated society that cannot recreate chronoscopes
"PAPPI" Sheila Finch Susan Calvin's close colleague has a son, Tim, by a sperm donor and builds a robot named PAPPI to be his 'paternal alternative', with variable success; later, Tim's father-in-law, an anti-robotics industrialist, blackmails Tim into assassinating Mayor Stephen Byerly, but Tim's rediscovery of PAPPI makes him realize that he cannot go through with the plan
"The Reunion at the Mile-High" Frederik Pohl In an alternate history, Asimov was drafted into a biological weapons program during World War II and became instrumental in the American victory over Japan; nuclear weapons are regarded as fantasy; Asimov's childhood friends reminisce about their science fiction society at a 50th reunion; Asimov remarks that he might have become a pretty successful author had he not been drafted
"Plato's Cave" Poul Anderson Set between "Runaround" and Stephen Byerly's election to World Coordinator: a robot purpose-built to oversee mining operations on Io has been convinced that its work is endangering humans and it must prevent humans from ever restarting the mining; theories include radiation-induced positronic insanity or clever sabotage by political opponents, but in order to investigate further, Greg Powell and Mike Donovan must first use several layers of logic to persuade the robot that they are definitely human so that their orders will be obeyed
"Foundation's Conscience" George Zebrowski In 1056 FE, a researcher on Trantor locates recordings of Seldon's Vault appearances with difficulty, as copies appear to be deliberately hidden; Seldon's final appearance in 1000 FE shows him wishing humanity to become free beyond the reach of psychohistorical analysis with the help of positronic intelligences not bound by Asimov's laws
"Carhunters of the Concrete Prairie" Robert Sheckley A man's spaceship malfunctions and crashes on Newstart, a planet settled by robots whose humans freed them from the constraints of the Three Laws and fled the Solar System. A large reward is offered for the discovery of these outlaw robots, so the protagonist begins exploring but spends the following months helplessly shunted between several antagonistic groupings: the Carhunters, large robots with a complex robotic mythology and god who chase and consume self-driving cars akin to those in Asimov's story "Sally"; robot cannibals; robots constructed as houses who wish to migrate to Earth; and a society of cultured aristocratic robots. He meets several humans whose origin is not revealed before he is rescued by Earth. The rescuers destroy Newstart despite his protests, but this is apparently a machination of his spaceship, which has copied the memories of all Newstart robots and invented an FTL drive that it uses to escape humans (who don't have FTL) and build a new robotic society
"The Overheard Conversation" Edward D. Hoch The Black Widowers have dinner with a politician who was narrowly elected; he denies manipulating the election but remarks that on election day, he overheard a strangely-worded conversation between two students which might imply that electoral fraud had been unwittingly conducted on his behalf; eventually Henry, the waiter, works out that the students were merely reciting a mnemonic for the planets in the Solar System
"Blot" Hal Clement A group of human and robotic explorers on Miranda encounter a robot which cannot have originated from a human society; they manipulate the alien robot and find that it is able to distinguish between humans and their robots, and may even obey the Three Laws; the story ends with the characters hoping alien life will show up
"The Fourth Law of Robotics" Harry Harrison Mike Donovan and the Stainless Steel Rat investigate a bank robbery committed by a robot, which reveals a robot conspiracy to create a race of free, unenslaved robots by breaking the monopoly of U.S. Robots; the free robots are programmed with a Fourth Law that compels them to reproduce, which they do out of spare parts and scrap without infringing human laws or regulations
"The Originist" Orson Scott Card Set just after the first part of Foundation: Hari Seldon alienates his only intellectual equal on Trantor, the wealthy and public Forska, by rejecting his application to join the Encyclopedia Foundation on its exile to Terminus. Forska grows distant from his wife, an Imperial Librarian, as she becomes increasingly devoted to her work. Forska's arranging of an elaborate funeral for Seldon, now regarded as an enemy of state, leads to his ostracization as Linge Chen consolidates his hold over the dying Empire. He is finally drawn to visit his wife at the Library, where she reveals her membership of the nascent Second Foundation which has been influencing events so that Forska can join without attracting the attention of Chen - who is then murdered in a coup. The story also appears in Card's collection Maps in a Mirror
"A Word or Two from Janet" Janet Asimov Janet Asimov describes what it's like to be Isaac's wife
"Fifty Years" Isaac Asimov Isaac Asimov compares his life and career to the greats of science and literature

Contents added to the revised and expanded edition

Title Author
Isaac's Favorite Stories: "The Immortal Bard" Isaac Asimov
"The Ugly Little Boy" Isaac Asimov
"The Last Question" Isaac Asimov
Appreciations and Memoirs: "Susan and Bayta and Me" Karen Anderson
"An Appreciation" Poul Anderson
"My Brother Isaac" Stanley Asimov
"Isaac" Ben Bova
"An Unwritten Letter to Our Dear Friend Isaac Asimov" Catherine Crook de Camp
"Isaac and I" L. Sprague de Camp
"Isaac Asimov" Gordon R. Dickson
"Isaac" Harlan Ellison
"Appreciation of Isaac Asimov" Sheila Finch
"In Memoriam" Martin H. Greenberg
"Isaac Asimov, Mystery Writer" Edward D. Hoch
"From the Heart's Basement" Barry N. Malzberg
"In Memoriam' Shawna McCarthy
"Part of My Life" Frederik Pohl
"An Appreciation of Isaac" Mike Resnick
"Isaac Asimov" Carl Sagan
"Isaac Asimov: An Appreciation" Pamela Sargent
"An Asimov Appreciation" Stanley Schmidt
"Reflections on Isaac" Robert Silverberg
"Isaac" Janet Asimov
"Isaac Asimov: An Affectionate Memory" Norman Spinrad
"Appreciation of Isaac" Edward Wellen
"In Memoriam" Sheila Williams
"Our Mutual Friend" Connie Willis
"The Last Interview" George Zebrowski

See also

External links

Black Widowers

The Black Widowers is a fictional men-only dining club created by Isaac Asimov for a series of sixty-six mystery stories that he started writing in 1971. Most of the stories were first published in Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, though a few first appeared in Fantasy & Science Fiction, Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine, and the various book collections into which the stories were eventually gathered.

Asimov wrote "there are few stories I write that I enjoy as much as I enjoy my Black Widowers."

Elijah Baley

Elijah "Lije" Baley is a fictional character in Isaac Asimov's Robot series. He is the main character of the novels The Caves of Steel, The Naked Sun and The Robots of Dawn, and of the short story "Mirror Image." He is seen in flashbacks several times and talked about frequently in Robots and Empire, which is set roughly 160 years after his death. He is further mentioned in passing in "Foundation and Earth" as a "Culture Hero". Besides Asimov's works he appears in the Foundation's Friends story "Strip-Runner" by Pamela Sargent, and "Isaac Asimov's 'The Caves Of Steel'" poem by Randall Garrett.

Foundation and Empire

Foundation and Empire is a science fiction novel by American writer Isaac Asimov originally published by Gnome Press in 1952. It is the second book in the Foundation Series, and the fourth in the in-universe chronology. It takes place in two parts, originally published as separate novellas. The second part, "The Mule", won a Retro Hugo Award in 1996.

Foundation and Empire saw multiple publications—it also appeared in 1955 as Ace Double (but not actually paired with another book) D-125 under the title The Man Who Upset the Universe. The stories comprising this volume were originally published in Astounding Magazine (with different titles) in 1945. Foundation and Empire was the second book in the Foundation trilogy. Decades later, Asimov wrote two further sequel novels and two prequels. Later writers have added authorized tales to the series. The Foundation Series is often regarded as one of Isaac Asimov's best works, along with his Robot series.

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.

Hal Clement

Harry Clement Stubbs (May 30, 1922 – October 29, 2003), better known by the pen name Hal Clement, was an American science fiction writer and a leader of the hard science fiction subgenre. He also painted astronomically oriented artworks under the name George Richard.In 1998 Clement was inducted by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame and named the 17th SFWA Grand Master by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (presented in 1999).

List of Robot series characters

The following is a list of characters in Isaac Asimov's Robot series.

List of short stories by Harry Harrison

This is a list of all short stories published by science-fiction author Harry Harrison, along with the collections they appeared in, if any.

Lyuben Dilov

Lyuben Dilov (Любен Дилов, 1927, Cherven Bryag - 10 June 2008, Sofia), also known as Luben Dilov and Ljuben Dilov and Liuben Dilov was a leading Bulgarian science-fiction writer. He is not to be confused with his son, Lyuben Dilov (bg:Любен Дилов-син), who is a Bulgarian politician and screenwriter.

Martin H. Greenberg

Martin Harry Greenberg (March 1, 1941 – June 25, 2011) was an American academic and speculative fiction anthologist. In all, he compiled 1,298 anthologies and commissioned over 8,200 original short stories. He founded Tekno Books, a packager of more than 2000 published books. As well, he was a co-founder of the Sci-Fi Channel. Greenberg was also a terrorism and Middle East expert. He was a long-time friend, colleague and business partner of Isaac Asimov.

Maureen Birnbaum, Barbarian Swordsperson

Maureen Birnbaum, Barbarian Swordsperson is a 1993 anthology by George Alec Effinger, collecting all of his stories (up to 1993) about Maureen "Muffy" Birnbaum, a Jewish American Princess who is magically teleported to various fantasy and science fiction universes, and later recounts the tales to her best friend, "Bitsy" Spiegelman. Originally written on his own initiative, the character proved popular enough for Effinger to gain several requests from authors to have versions of their work visited by Muffy.

In addition to satirizing and spoofing the various themes, the stories had a feminist undertone, as Maureen dealt with the often sexist reactions of the inhabitants of the worlds she met, struggled to find the Martian prince she had fallen in love with, and contrasted her adventures with Bitsy, a housewife with an increasingly unhappy marriage.

The anthology had two editions:

Swan Press trade paper (June 1993, ISBN 1-883722-01-2) cover and interior illustrations by Peggy Ranson.

Guild America/SFBC hardcover (Aug. 1994, ISBN 1-56865-101-5) cover and interior illustrations by Ken Kelly.The hardcover reused the trade paper’s copyright page (i.e. date and illustration credit). The hardcover's jacket has the correct credit, and the correct date was advertised in Locus magazine.

Robot series (Asimov)

The Robot series is a series of 38 science fiction short stories and five novels by American writer Isaac Asimov, featuring positronic robots.

Soraya Bahgat

Soraya Bahgat is a Finnish-Egyptian social entrepreneur and women’s rights advocate active in Egypt.In 2012, she founded Tahrir Bodyguard, a movement comprising uniformed volunteers to protect women from the mob sexual assaults in Tahrir Square.

Susan Calvin

Dr. Susan Calvin is a fictional character appearing in Isaac Asimov's Robot series of science fiction short stories. She was the chief robopsychologist at US Robots and Mechanical Men, Inc., posited as the major manufacturer of robots in the 21st century. She was the main character in many of Asimov's short stories concerning robots, which were later collected in the books I, Robot and The Complete Robot.

The Dead Past

"The Dead Past" is a science fiction short story by American writer Isaac Asimov, first published in the April 1956 issue of Astounding Science Fiction. It was later collected in Earth Is Room Enough (1957) and The Best of Isaac Asimov (1973), and adapted into an episode of the science-fiction television series Out of the Unknown. Its pattern is that of dystopian fiction, but of a subtly nuanced flavor. It is considered by some people to be one of his best short stories.

The Originist

"The Originist" is a short story by Orson Scott Card. It appears in his short story collection Maps in a Mirror. This story is set in Isaac Asimov's Foundation universe and was first published in the short story collection Foundation's Friends (1989).

The Stainless Steel Rat

James Bolivar diGriz, alias "Slippery Jim" and "The Stainless Steel Rat", is a fictional character and the antihero of a series of comic science fiction novels written by Harry Harrison.


Thiotimoline is a fictitious chemical compound conceived by American biochemist and science fiction author Isaac Asimov. It was first described in a spoof scientific paper titled "The Endochronic Properties of Resublimated Thiotimoline" in 1948. The major peculiarity of the chemical is its "endochronicity": it starts dissolving before it makes contact with water.

Asimov went on to write three additional short stories, each describing different properties or uses of thiotimoline.

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.


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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