Foundation and Earth

Foundation and Earth is a science fiction novel by American writer Isaac Asimov, the fifth novel of the Foundation series and chronologically the last in the series. It was published in 1986, four years after the first sequel to the Foundation trilogy, which is titled Foundation's Edge.

Foundation and Earth
Foundation and Earth (book cover)
First edition cover
AuthorIsaac Asimov
Cover artistAlan Wallerstein
CountryUnited States
SeriesFoundation series
GenreScience fiction
Publication date
Media typePrint (Hardcover, Paperback)
Preceded byFoundation's Edge 

Plot introduction

Several centuries after the events of Second Foundation, two citizens of the Foundation seek to find Earth, the legendary planet where humans are said to have originated. Even less is known about Earth than was the case in Foundation, when scholars still seem to know the location of 'Sol'.

The story follows on from Foundation's Edge, but can be read as a complete work in itself. (It does, however, give away most of the mysteries around which Foundation's Edge is built.)

Plot summary

Part I: Gaia

Councilman Golan Trevize, historian Janov Pelorat, and Blissenobiarella of the planet Gaia (introduced in Foundation's Edge) set out on a journey to find humanity's ancestral planet—Earth. The purpose of the journey is to settle Trevize's doubt of his decision, at the end of Foundation's Edge, to embrace the all-encompassing noosphere of Galaxia.

Part II: Comporellon

First, they visit Comporellon, which claims to be the oldest currently inhabited planet in the galaxy. Upon arrival, they are imprisoned, but negotiate their way out. While there, a historian gives them the coordinates of three Spacer planets, surmised to be fairly close to Earth.

Part III: Aurora

The first Spacer planet they visit is Aurora, where Trevize is nearly killed by a pack of wild dogs, presumed to be the descendants of household pets reverted to wolf-like savagery. They escape when Bliss manipulates the dogs' emotions to psychologically compel a retreat, amplifying the fear induced by cries from one of the dogs that Trevize used his neuronic whip on.

Part IV: Solaria

Next, they visit Solaria, where they find that the Solarians, who have survived the Spacer-Settler conflicts by clever retreat detailed in Asimov's novel Robots and Empire, have engineered themselves into self-reproducing hermaphrodites, generally intolerant of human physical presence or contact. They have also given themselves a natural ability to mentally channel ("transduce") great amounts of energy, and use this as their sole source of power. The Solarians intentionally avoid ever having to interact with each other, except by holographic apparatus ("viewing"), and reproduce only when necessary to replace the dead. Bliss, Pelorat, and Trevize are nearly killed by the Solarian Sarton Bander; but Bliss deflects the transduction at the moment Bander uses it as a weapon, accidentally killing Bander. While escaping, they acquire Bander's immature child, Fallom, in a state of panic because its robotic nursemaid, like all other robots on the estate, has lost power and stopped functioning due to the death of its master, and carry her (Bliss, by preference, uses a feminine pronoun on Fallom) aboard their ship to prevent her execution by the Solarians as she would be surplus to their population requirements - a more mature child from another state would be chosen to take over Bander's estate.

Part V: Melpomenia

The crew now visit Melpomenia, the third and final Spacer coordinate they have, where the atmosphere has become reduced to a few thousandths of normal atmospheric pressure. Wearing space suits, they enter a library, and find a plaque listing the names and coordinates of all fifty Spacer worlds. On the way back to the ship, they notice a moss has begun to grow around the seals of their space suits, and just in time, surmise that the moss is feeding on minuscule leakages of carbon dioxide. Thus, they are able to eradicate the moss with a blaster and heavy UV-illumination so that no spores are unintentionally carried off the planet. They then plot the Spacer worlds on the ship's map, which form a rough sphere and conclude that the location of Earth must be near to the center of the sphere. This area turns out to have a binary star system.

Part VI: Alpha

They arrive at the planet Alpha, which orbits Alpha Centauri and is all ocean except for an island 250 km long and 65 km wide on which live a small group of humans. In a reference to the radioactive Earth of Asimov's novel Pebble in the Sky, the restoration of Earth's soil was eventually abandoned in favour of resettling the population to "New Earth", which the First Galactic Empire had already been terraforming. The natives appear friendly, but secretly intend to kill the visitors with a microbiological agent, to prevent them from informing the rest of the galaxy of their existence. They are warned to escape before the agent can be activated, by a native woman who has formed an attraction to Trevize and was impressed by Fallom's ability to play a flute with just her mind. Now certain that Alpha Centauri is not Earth but near it, they approach a system close by, and are puzzled by the very strong similarities between this star and the larger sun of the Alpha Centauri system. Asimov here is drawing attention to an astronomical curiosity: the nearest star system to Sol contains a star that has the same spectral type, G2 V, though Alpha Centauri A is a little larger and brighter.

Part VII: Earth

On the approach to Earth, they detect it to be highly radioactive and not capable of supporting life but, while trying to use the ship's computer to locate Solaria, Fallom calls Trevize's attention upon the moon, which is large enough to serve as a hideout for the forces that lived on Earth. There, they find R. Daneel Olivaw, who explains he has been paternalistically manipulating humanity since Elijah Baley's time, long before the Galactic Empire or Foundation. He thus caused the settlement of Alpha Centauri, the creation of Gaia and the creation of psychohistory (detailed in Prelude to Foundation and Forward the Foundation), and manipulated Trevize into making his decision at the end of Foundation's Edge (although he did not manipulate the decision itself). It is revealed that Daneel's positronic brain is deteriorating, and he is unable to design a new brain as he had done so several times before but can no longer since his brain is now too fragile; he therefore wishes to merge Fallom's brain with his own, allowing him time to oversee Galaxia's creation.

Daneel continues to explain that human internal warfare or parochialism was the reason for his causing the creation of psychohistory and Gaia. Trevize then confirms his decision that the creation of Galaxia is the correct choice, and gives his reason as the likelihood of advanced life beyond the galaxy eventually attacking humanity. This danger is part of the conclusion to Asimov's book The End of Eternity, in which "Project Eternity" (which manipulated human history to maintain human comfort) is destroyed to undo that same extraterrestrial disaster-—extraterrestrials giving humanity no hope of expansion, at which point the birth rate fell, and humanity became extinct.

Unwritten sequel

Foundation and Earth takes place only some 500 years into the 1,000-year Seldon Plan. As detailed by his wife in It's Been a Good Life, Asimov intended to write a sequel, but his attempts were fruitless. He did not know what to do next. This is why he wrote the prequels (Prelude to Foundation and Forward the Foundation) instead.

Trevize mentions that no human ship has ever penetrated the Magellanic Clouds, nor the Andromeda Galaxy or galaxies beyond that. Intelligent aliens have been mentioned in the short story Blind Alley (who end up fleeing to the Magellanic Clouds). No reason is given why humans have not visited other galaxies, which would seem to be within range of the hyperspace drive.

Further notes

Although hinted at in Foundation's Edge, this book was the first book of the series that merged it with Asimov's Robot series. The radioactive-Earth theme was begun in Pebble in the Sky, which is set thousands of years earlier. R. Daneel Olivaw's role in the events of that novel would later be described in the prequels.

This book serves as a kind of epilogue to the Robot series. Asimov describes what has become of the Spacer worlds of Solaria and Aurora, described extensively in The Naked Sun and the Robots of Dawn, respectively. The author also reveals what has happened to Earth, as described in Robots and Empire.

The book Nemesis, predating the Foundation and Robot series, hints at the motives and origins of Gaia. Humans had a very early contact with the sentient moon Erythro, a very abstract alien intelligence.

In Foundation's Triumph, the last book in the Second Foundation Trilogy authorized by Asimov's estate, another possible future for the Galaxy is discussed. In a conversation between Hari Seldon and Daneel Olivaw, Seldon discusses the possibility that the Foundation will in fact incorporate Gaia into the Second Galactic Empire. He then bets that in a thousand years, well after Galaxia should have been established and removed the need for formal education, there will be editions of the Encyclopedia Galactica published. The fact that two versions of the Encyclopedia are published after this deadline seems to lend credence to the view that Seldon won the bet.

External links

Aurora (fictional planet)

Aurora is a fictional planet in Isaac Asimov's Robot series. It was the first world settled by the Spacers, originally named 'New Earth'; it was located 3.7 parsecs (12 light years) from Earth.

Blind Alley

"Blind Alley" is a science fiction short story by American writer Isaac Asimov. It was first published in the March 1945 issue of Astounding Science Fiction, and later included in the collection The Early Asimov (1972).

Although the story postulates a race of intelligent non-humans, it is set in the Foundation universe, during the era of Trantor's Galactic Empire.

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 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.

Gaia (Foundation universe)

Gaia is a fictional planet described in the book Foundation's Edge (1982) and referred to in Foundation and Earth (1986), both by Isaac Asimov. The name is derived from the Gaia hypothesis, which is itself eponymous to Gaia, the Earth Goddess.

In this fictional universe, Gaia is located in the Sayshell Sector, about ten parsecs (32 light years) from the system Sayshell itself. It orbits a G-4 class star, and has one natural satellite (50 km or 31 miles in diameter). Its axial inclination is 12°, and a Gaian day lasts 0.92 Galactic Standard Days.

In its course of settlement, the human beings on Gaia, under robotic guidance, not only evolved their ability to form an ongoing group consciousness, but also extended this consciousness to the fauna and flora of the planet itself, even including inanimate matter. As a result, the entire planet became a super-organism.

Isaac Asimov

Isaac Asimov (; c. January 2, 1920 – April 6, 1992) was an American writer and professor of biochemistry at Boston University. He was known for his works of science fiction and popular science. Asimov was a prolific writer who wrote or edited more than 500 books and an estimated 90,000 letters and postcards. His books have been published in 9 of the 10 major categories of the Dewey Decimal Classification.Asimov wrote hard science fiction. Along with Robert A. Heinlein and Arthur C. Clarke, Asimov was considered one of the "Big Three" science fiction writers during his lifetime. Asimov's most famous work is the "Foundation" series; his other major series are the "Galactic Empire" series and the Robot series. The Galactic Empire novels are set in earlier history of the same fictional universe as the Foundation series. Later, with Foundation and Earth (1986), he linked this distant future to the Robot stories, creating a unified "future history" for his stories much like those pioneered by Robert A. Heinlein and previously produced by Cordwainer Smith and Poul Anderson. He wrote hundreds of short stories, including the social science fiction novelette "Nightfall"; in 1964, it was voted the best short science fiction story of all time by the Science Fiction Writers of America. Asimov wrote the Lucky Starr series of juvenile science-fiction novels using the pen name Paul French.Asimov also wrote mysteries and fantasy, as well as much nonfiction. Most of his popular science books explain concepts in a historical way, going as far back as possible to a time when the science in question was at its simplest stage. Examples include Guide to Science, the three-volume set Understanding Physics, and Asimov's Chronology of Science and Discovery. He wrote on numerous other scientific and non-scientific topics, such as chemistry, astronomy, mathematics, history, biblical exegesis, and literary criticism.

He was president of the American Humanist Association. The asteroid 5020 Asimov, a crater on the planet Mars, a Brooklyn elementary school, and a literary award are named in his honor.

Janov Pelorat

Janov Pelorat is a character in the Foundation Series of books by Isaac Asimov. The two books in which he appears are Foundation's Edge and Foundation and Earth.

Pelorat is a professor of ancient history who has spent his entire life on his obsession of finding Earth, the mythical planet of human origin. He has a particular interest in myths and folklore. Janov's interest in Earth began when, at age fifteen during some indisposition, he was given a book of legends about the origin of humanity. On Terminus, Janov has collected a massive amount of data regarding the Origin Question, and is Terminus' foremost expert regarding Earth.

Janov Pelorat first appears in Foundation's Edge. He is described as white-haired, of average height and weight, and moves without haste and speaks with deliberation. He is 52 years of age but appears considerably older. He has been married in the past, and has a housekeeper named Kloda.Unusual for a historian of the futuristic society he belongs to, at the time he is first mentioned, he has never left the planet Terminus. Therefore, in addition to the resources available to him from the Terminus University Library, he makes use of interlibrary loans. Such loans can make use of "hyper-radiational signals", which are not described in the stories but appear to refer to a method of transmitting information over vast distances at speeds faster than light.When he is first described, he is beginning his first sabbatical and hoping to travel off planet for the first time. His goal is the planet Trantor, which was capital of the First Galactic Empire and the home of the Galactic Library (also known as the Library of Trantor, the Imperial Library, and the University of Trantor Library), which during the heights of the First Galactic Empire was the largest repository of reference material in the galaxy. No member of the Foundation has been to Trantor in 120 years.In the beginning of Foundation's Edge the Mayor of the Foundation notices Pelorat's existence for the first time and promises him that she will arrange for him to travel to Trantor. The Mayor informs him that he will travel to Trantor with the exiled councilman Golan Trevize.

Upon leaving Terminus on the small space ship Far Star, he and Golan Trevize begin their search for Earth. With only the two of them on board, Golan Trevize informs Pelorat that, as pilot and the person in control of the ship, he has decided they will not to go to Trantor but instead to seek out Earth directly with the information they already have.Instead of finding Earth, by way of the planet Sayshell, they find Gaia, a world which has developed a group consciousness, and is rumored to have destroyed any ships that have been sent to it. While on Gaia, Janov falls in love with a member of Gaia, Bliss. It is these three characters, Golan, Janov, and Bliss, with the addition of Fallom that continue the search for Earth in Foundation and Earth.

Laws of robotics

Laws of Robotics are a set of laws, rules, or principles, which are intended as a fundamental framework to underpin the behavior of robots designed to have a degree of autonomy. Robots of this degree of complexity do not yet exist, but they have been widely anticipated in science fiction, films and are a topic of active research and development in the fields of robotics and artificial intelligence.

The best known set of laws are those written by Isaac Asimov in the 1940s, or based upon them, but other sets of laws have been proposed by researchers in the decades since then.

List of Foundation series characters

This is a list of characters in Isaac Asimov's Foundation series.

List of Foundation universe planets

This is a list of Foundation universe planets featured or mentioned in the Robot series, Empire series, and Foundation series created by Isaac Asimov.

List of Robot series characters

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


Mentalic is a term Isaac Asimov's Foundation series uses to cover a range of unusual psionic capabilities. Not precisely telepathic, the Second Foundationers are able to sense and adjust the emotions of humans. Gaia, the group mind of Foundation's Edge and Foundation and Earth, considers the Second Foundation an embryonic form of collective consciousness. Gaians are also described as mentalic, although they have the added abilities of adjusting non-human life as well as converting usable energy into work through conscious will alone (thermokinesis). It is implied that the Solarians use a special organ to turn heat into some manner of energy, but whether it psychokinetic or telepathic in origin, if not both, is not wholly specified. R. Daneel Olivaw, along with R. Giskard Reventlov, shared a robotic mentalic ability caused by errant programming by Vasilia Fastolfe. Giskard gained these abilities first, and then "taught" the secret (presumably transferring the programming) to Daneel. Both of their abilities were implied to be staggering and only limited by the First Law: Daneel, for example, claimed to be able to nullify all of Gaia's psychic power, a claim that Bliss (a native of Gaia) took seriously. Daneel also manipulated galactic history for millennia, both during the Empire and Foundation eras.

Pebble in the Sky

Pebble in the Sky is a science fiction novel by American writer Isaac Asimov, published in 1950. This work is his first novel — parts of the Foundation series had appeared from 1942 onwards, in magazines, but Foundation was not published in book form until 1951. The original Foundation books are also a string of linked episodes, whereas this is a complete story involving a single group of characters.

R. Daneel Olivaw

R. Daneel Olivaw is a fictional robot created by Isaac Asimov. The "R" initial in his name stands for "Robot," a naming convention in Asimov's future society. Daneel appears in Asimov's Robot and Foundation series, most notably in the novels The Caves of Steel, The Naked Sun, The Robots of Dawn, Robots and Empire, Prelude to Foundation, Forward the Foundation, Foundation and Earth as well as the short story "Mirror Image". He is constructed immediately prior to the age of the Settlers, and lives at least until the formation of Galaxia, thus spanning the entire history of the First Empire, the Second Empire run by the Second Foundation, and finally the group consciousnesses of Galaxia, although this last is uncertain as no book about this was ever written.

Seldon Plan

The Seldon Plan is the central theme of Isaac Asimov's Foundation Series of stories and novels. The plan involves mathematically predicting the broad flow of human history on a large scale, in order that the future of the Galactic Empire can be improved.


Solaria is a fictional human-inhabited planet in Isaac Asimov's Foundation and Robot series. The novel The Naked Sun is set on Solaria and major events of Robots and Empire and Foundation and Earth take place on Solaria.

Spacer (Asimov)

Spacers were the fictional first humans to emigrate to space in Isaac Asimov's Robot and latterly related Foundation and Empire series. In these stories, about a millennium thereafter, they severed political ties with Earth, and embraced low population-growth and extreme longevity (with lifespans reaching 400 years) as a means for a high standard of living, in combination with using large numbers of robots as servants. At the same time, they also became militarily dominant over Earth.

Asimov's novels chronicle the gradual deterioration of the Spacer worlds and the disappearance of robots from human society. The exact details vary from book to book, and in at least one case—the radioactive contamination of Earth—later scientific discoveries forced Asimov to retroactively reconfigure his own future history. The general pattern, however, is as follows:

In the vague period between Asimov's near-future Robot short stories (of the type collected in I, Robot) and his novels, immigrants from Earth establish colonies on fifty worlds, the first being Aurora, the last Solaria, and all fifty inscribed in the Hall of the Worlds located on Melpomenia, the nineteenth. Sociological forces possibly related to their sparse populations and dependence on robot labor lead to the collapse of most of these worlds; their dominance is replaced by new, upstart colonies known as "Settler" worlds. Unlike their Spacer predecessors, the Settlers detested robots, and so by the time of the Empire novels, robotics is almost an unknown science.

In Foundation and Earth, Golan Trevize visits several of these worlds. We learn the eventual fate of Aurora, setting of The Robots of Dawn, and also Solaria, the setting of its predecessor The Naked Sun.

Star Legend

Star Legend (スターレジェンド) is a Japanese space opera role-playing game released in 2004.

After the galactic catastrophe (called Dai-waikyoku (大歪曲, lit. Great distortion)), mankind lost great technology and interstellar civilization. At last, mankind had forgotten a presence of Earth, their birthplace planet.

Player characters are called "Retainers". Retainers seek humanity's ancestral planet, the Earth like as E. C. Tubb's Dumarest saga or Isaac Asimov's Foundation and Earth. A name of "retainer" means that he/she retains a qualification and abilities to find Earth.

Retainers' foe are named "Removers". Removers are trying to remove the memories and presence of Earth and prevent searching for it.

The setting includes Galactic empire, interstellar police, space pirates, many planets that have strange cultures and environments and other science fiction gadgets. Many of the settings come from westerns and Japanese science fiction.

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.

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