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 and Empire
Foundation and empire
Dust-jacket illustration from the first edition.
AuthorIsaac Asimov
Cover artistEdd Cartier
CountryUnited States
SeriesFoundation Series
GenreScience fiction
PublisherGnome Press
Publication date
Media typePrint (hardcover)
Pages247 pp
Preceded byFoundation 
Followed bySecond Foundation 

Plot summary

The General

The first half of the book, titled "The General", tells how the experienced General Bel Riose of the Galactic Empire launches an attack against the Foundation. The Empire still retains far more resources and personnel than the Foundation and Riose is willing to use that advantage to its fullest. Lathan Devers, a native of the Foundation, and Ducem Barr, a fugitive from the planet Siwenna, intercept a message that summarizes the General's doings, and escape to Trantor, to see Emperor Cleon II and show him the message. In their attempts to contact the emperor, Devers and Barr attract the attention of Trantor law enforcement and are forced to flee the planet. In the end, the emperor decides that Riose is a threat to his status and to the balance of the Empire and recalls him to Trantor.

Afterwards, members of the Foundation attempt to analyze the struggle for power between generals and emperors within the old Empire using the principles of psychohistory. Although Hari Seldon did not leave any advanced knowledge of psychohistory with the Foundation, they come to understand that no action was actually required on their part, as with the previous crisis.

The characters of Emperor Cleon II and Bel Riose in this story are based on those of the historical Roman Emperor Justinian I and his general Belisarius. Their story was familiar to Asimov from his recent reading of Robert Graves's novel Count Belisarius, and of his earlier study of Edward Gibbon's History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, on which the entire series is loosely based.

"The General" was first published in the April 1945 issue of Astounding Science Fiction under the title "Dead Hand".

The Mule

The second half of the book, titled "The Mule", takes place approximately one hundred years after the first half. The Empire has ceased to exist, Trantor has undergone "The Great Sack", having been sacked by a "barbarian fleet", and only a small rump state of 20 agricultural planets remain. Most of the Galaxy has split into barbaric kingdoms. The Empire itself has entered into an even more rapid phase of decline and civil wars.

The Foundation has become the dominant power in the galaxy, controlling its regions through its trading network. The existence of the Seldon Plan has become widely known, and Foundationists and many others believe that as it has accurately predicted previous events, the Foundation's formation of a Second Empire is inevitable and unavoidable. The leadership of the Foundation has become dictatorial and complacent, and many outer planets belonging to the Traders plan to revolt.

An external threat arises in the form of a mysterious man who is known only as the Mule. The Mule (whose real name is never revealed) is a mutant, and possesses the ability to sense and manipulate the emotions of others, usually creating fear and/or total devotion within his victims. He uses this ability to take over the independent systems bordering the Foundation, and has them wage a war against it. In face of this new threat, the provincial Traders join with the central Foundation leaders against the Mule, believing him to be the new Seldon crisis.

As the Mule advances the Foundation's leaders assume that Seldon predicted this attack, and that the scheduled hologram crisis message appearance of Seldon will again tell them how to win. To their surprise, they learn that Seldon predicted a civil war with the Traders, not the rise of the Mule. The tape suddenly stops as Terminus loses all power in a Mule attack, and the Foundation falls.

Foundation citizens Toran and Bayta Darell, along with the psychologist Ebling Mis and "Magnifico Giganticus", a clown fleeing the Mule's service, travel to different worlds of the Foundation, and finally to the Great Library of Trantor. The Darells and Mis seek to contact the Second Foundation, which they believe will be able to defeat the Mule. They also have suspicions that the Mule wishes to know the location of the Second Foundation as well, so that he can use the First Foundation's technology to destroy it.

At the Great Library, Ebling Mis works continuously until his health fatally deteriorates. As Mis lies dying, he tells Toran, Bayta, and Magnifico that he knows where the Second Foundation is. Before he can reveal the Second Foundation's location, however, Bayta kills him. Bayta had realized, shortly before, that Magnifico was actually the Mule, who had used his powers in every planet they had previously visited. In the same way, he had forced Mis to continue working and find what the Mule was looking for. Bayta had killed Mis to prevent him from revealing the Second Foundation's whereabouts to the Mule.

The Darells are left on Trantor. The Mule leaves to reign over the Foundation and the rest of his new empire. Existence of the Second Foundation, as an organization centered on the science of psychology and mentalics, in contrast to the Foundation's focus on physical sciences, is now known to the Darells and the Mule. Now that the Mule has conquered the Foundation he stands as the most powerful force in the galaxy, and the Second Foundation is the only threat to his eventual rule over the entire galaxy. The Mule promises that he will find the Second Foundation, while Bayta asserts that it has already prepared for him and thus that he will not have enough time before the Second Foundation reacts.

"The Mule" was first published under that title in the November and December 1945 issues of Astounding Science Fiction.


Groff Conklin described Foundation and Empire as "fine swashbuckling galactic adventure [based] on some extremely hard-headed, scientific and mature social-political thinking."[1] Boucher and McComas, however, panned the volume, declaring that "Anyone with a nodding acquaintance with Gibbon, Breasted, or Prescott will find no new concepts [here] save the utterly incomprehensible ones contained in the author's own personal science of 'psycho-history'."[2]

In 1996 "The Mule" was retrospectively awarded a Hugo Award for best novel of 1945. The Foundation trilogy, of which Foundation and Empire is the second book, won a Hugo Award in 1966 for Best All-Time Series.

The Visi-Sonor inspired the Holophonor, a similar instrument that appears several times in the cartoon Futurama.[3]


"The General" or "Dead Hand"

"The Mule"

  • The Mule, a mutant who captures the Foundation and attempts to establish a Second Empire.
  • Magnifico Giganticus, former clown of the Mule, now in exile.
  • Toran and Bayta Darell, Husband and wife, Bayta a former citizen of The Foundation, Toran a trader of the periphery planet of Haven.
  • Captain Han Pritcher, an intelligence agent for the Foundation, and the first to recognise the power of the Mule.
  • Mayor Indbur III, Mayor of the Foundation during the Mule's conquest.
  • Ebling Mis, the psychologist who discovered the location of the Second Foundation.
  • Dagobert IX, one of the last emperors on Neotrantor.



  1. ^ "Galaxy's 5 Star Shelf", Galaxy Science Fiction, January 1953, p.97
  2. ^ "Recommended Reading," F&SF, January 1953, p.90
  3. ^ Cohen, David X. (2003). Futurama season 4 DVD commentary for the episode "The Devil's Hands Are Idle Playthings" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.


  • Chalker, Jack L.; Mark Owings (1998). The Science-Fantasy Publishers: A Bibliographic History, 1923–1998. Westminster, MD and Baltimore: Mirage Press, Ltd. p. 301.

External links

1952 in literature

This article presents lists of the literary events and publications in 1952.

Cleon II

Emperor Cleon II is a fictional character from Isaac Asimov's Foundation series. He is the last strong monarch of the Galactic Empire, and reigned during the time when Bel Riose, the last great Imperial general, was engaging in a successful campaign against the early Foundation. Cleon becomes wary of Riose's success and his popularity with both the Imperial armed forces and the general population, and has him recalled and executed. Following Cleon's death, the Empire falls into a civil war.

As the Galactic Empire is based on the Roman Empire, and Bel Riose is based on Belisarius, Cleon II is clearly based on the Eastern Roman Emperor Justinian I. His name however derives from Cleon, an Athenian politician of the Peloponnesian War.

Dagobert IX

Emperor Dagobert IX is a fictional character from Isaac Asimov's Foundation and Empire. He is one of the last emperors of the Galactic Empire (it is unlikely he was the last, since that would have required him to live to the age of approximately 120).

He fled the Great Sack of Trantor along with his family in 260FE and moved the capital planet to Delicass, which was renamed Neotrantor. Neotrantor was about three parsecs from Trantor.

When visited upon by Ebling Mis, Toran and Bayta Darell, and the Mule, Dagobert IX was described as old and detached from reality, still reminiscing about imperial times long gone. Nevertheless, after he gave permission to Elbling Mis to use the Great Library of Trantor, he made a dignified impression as befits a Galactic emperor.

His son, the crown prince Dagobert, tried to conspire under the influence of the corrupt governor Jord Commason. The crown prince was killed by the Mule with the help of a Visi-sonor.

The reason why Asimov gave this character the name Dagobert is not too clear, but it is likely a reference to Frankish kings of the Merovingian dynasty.

Dead Hand (disambiguation)

Dead Hand was a Soviet weapons-control system during the Cold War.

Dead Hand may also refer to:

The Dead Hand, 2009 book by David E. Hoffman

Dead Hand, or Mortmain, the perpetual, inalienable ownership of real estate

The "Dead Hand" series, books by Upton Sinclair starting with The Profits of Religion

"The Dead Hand", later retitled "The General", a 1945 short story by Isaac Asimov later included in Foundation and Empire

"Dead Hand" (The Americans), a 2018 episode of the TV series The Americans

Ebling Mis

Ebling Mis is a fictional character from Isaac Asimov's Foundation Series. Specifically, he is one of the main characters from the latter half of the novel Foundation and Empire. Mis is the Foundation's greatest psychologist and a very prominent scientist. He is described in the book as being "The Scientist—with capital letters and no smile." Because of this, he is allowed a certain lenience in formality when dealing with the government; no disrespect or broken taboo was worth losing his contribution to science. For instance, Mis disregards the usual protocol involved with requesting an audience with the Mayor, and instead, he barges into the palace unannounced.

Mis is important to the Mule's goal of galactic conquest. He is sought out by the Mule and brought along on with Toran and Bayta Darrell on their journey, still unaware of the Mule's presence. While on Haven, Mis speculates about the nature of the Mule. He and Randu discuss the probability that the Mule is a mutant and if so, what sort of abilities he might have. As they are debating the explanations to the peculiarities that have recently occurred, they come very close to the truth, but they do not realise that even as they speak, Haven is under the influence of the Mule's power. Mis and his companions leave for Trantor to find the location of the Second Foundation and a way to defeat the Mule. As they travel, Mis becomes more and more withdrawn. In fact, in the pages leading up to their arrival on Trantor, he is only barely mentioned in the plot. When he is described, it is typically as being in a pensive mood and oblivious to events happening around him. After landing on Trantor his condition worsens considerably.

He spends the last few chapters locked in the catalogue rooms of the University, poring over old documents, and frantically trying to uncover the secret location of the Second Foundation. It is later discovered that the Mule was manipulating him into this state of arousal in order to achieve the great insights that would emulate Hari Seldon's work. Unfortunately for Mis, this heightened state is fatal, and when he did discover the secret, he was on his deathbed. Bayta Darrell sees through the Mule's plan, and she kills Mis with a blaster before he could reveal the location of the other Foundation. Ebling Mis is possibly the only one since Seldon's time to have discovered the secret, but the information died with him, and the truth about the Second Foundation would not be revealed until many years later.

In later times, a spaceship is named in his honour.

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.

Galactic Empire (Isaac Asimov)

The Galactic Empire is an interstellar empire featured in Isaac Asimov's Robot, Galactic Empire, and Foundation series. The Empire is spread across the Milky Way galaxy and consists of almost 25 million planets settled exclusively by humans. It had a total population of 500 quintillion. For over 12 millennia the seat of imperial authority was located on the ecumenopolis of Trantor, whose population exceeded 40 billion, until it was sacked in the year 12,328. The official symbol of the empire is the Spaceship-and-Sun. Cleon II was the last Emperor to hold significant authority. The fall of the empire, modelled on the fall of the Roman Empire, is the subject of many of Asimov's novels.

Han Pritcher

Han Pritcher is a fictional character from Isaac Asimov's Foundation Series. He is an important character in the second part of Foundation and Empire and the first part of Second Foundation.

Hober Mallow

Hober Mallow is a fictional character in Isaac Asimov's Foundation Series. He is the central protagonist of "The Merchant Princes", the final short story of Asimov's Foundation.

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.

Mule (Foundation)

The Mule is a fictional character from Isaac Asimov's Foundation series. One of the greatest conquerors the galaxy has ever seen, he is a mentalic who has the ability to reach into the minds of others and "adjust" their emotions, individually or en masse, using this capability to conscript individuals to his cause. Not direct mind-control per se, it is a subtle influence of the subconscious; individuals under the Mule's influence behave otherwise normally - logic, memories, and personality intact. This gives the Mule the capacity to disrupt Seldon's plan by invalidating Seldon's assumption that no single individual could have a measurable effect on galactic socio-historical trends on their own, due to the plan relying on the predictability of the actions of very large numbers of people.


Myria- (symbol my) is a now obsolete decimal metric prefix denoting a factor of 104 (ten thousand). It originates from the Greek μύριοι (mýrioi) (myriad). The prefix was part of the original metric system adopted by France in 1795, but was not adopted when the SI prefixes were internationally adopted by the 11th CGPM conference in 1960.

In 1685 John Wallis proposed the usage of myrio.

Also, in 19th century English it was sometimes spelled myrio, in line with a puristic opinion by Thomas Young.The myriametre (10 km) is occasionally encountered in 19th-century train tariffs, or in some classifications of wavelengths as the adjective myriametric. The French mesures usuelles (1812-1839) did not include any units of length greater than the toise, but the myriametre remained in use throughout this period. In Sweden and Norway, the myriametre is still common in everyday use. In these countries this unit is called mil. Of units customarily used in trade in France, the myriagramme (10 kg) was the metric replacement for an avoirdupois unit, the quartier (25 pounds). Isaac Asimov's novel Foundation and Empire still mentioned the myriaton in 1952.

The myria’s symbol of my ultimately led to its demise. In 1905 the Comité International des Poids et Mesures (CIPM) assigned it the symbol M, wishing to use only single-letter symbols. This meant that myriameter, for example, was abbreviated Mm. But in the first part of the twentieth century, electrical engineers began to use capital M for the prefix mega-, as in megawatt and megohm. This usage became so widely and firmly adopted that in 1935 the CIPM adopted the prefix “mega-” with “M” as its symbol, dropping the myria- entirely. In 1975, the United States, having previously authorized use of the myriameter and myriagram in 1866, declared the terms no longer acceptable.

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.

Second Foundation

Second Foundation is the third novel published of the Foundation Series by American writer Isaac Asimov, and the fifth in the in-universe chronology. It was first published in 1953 by Gnome Press.

Second Foundation consists of two previously published novellas originally published in Astounding Magazine (with different titles) between 1948 and 1950, making this the third volume in Asimov's Foundation series. 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.

The term also describes the organization by that name which is the focus of the book. The organization's existence (and nothing more) had been revealed in Foundation, searched for in Foundation and Empire, and makes brief appearances in this novel. It would not be described in detail until Foundation's Edge.

Seldon Crisis

A Seldon Crisis is a fictional socio-historical phenomenon in Isaac Asimov's Foundation Series of science fiction novels. They are part of the field of psychohistory, and refer to a seemingly catastrophic social and political situation that, to be surmounted, would eventually leave only one possible, inevitable, course of action.

They are named after Hari Seldon, who founded the field of psychohistory, and who appears as a pre-recorded hologram at the climax of each crisis. Before his death, he used psychohistory to predict and manipulate each event. A Seldon Crisis usually involves both an external pressure (such as threat of attack) and an internal pressure (such as threat of revolt). Both pressures will come to a head simultaneously, and be resolved with the same action.

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.

The Mule (song)

"The Mule" is a song by British hard rock band Deep Purple, and was originally released on their 1971 album Fireball. The song became famous for its live performance, which would always feature a drum solo by Ian Paice.

Ian Gillan introduces "The Mule" as .. it's all about Lucifer and some of his friends, most of whom are sitting around here somewhere tonight. (From the Live in Concert 1972/73 DVD), however on his website he also states "Yes, the Mule was inspired by Asimov.". The reference is to the character of The Mule, in the Foundation series by Isaac Asimov, specifically in Foundation and Empire.


A trilogy is a set of three works of art that are connected, and that can be seen either as a single work or as three individual works. They are commonly found in literature, film, and video games, and are less common in other art forms. Three-part works that are considered components of a larger work also exist, such as the triptych or the three-movement sonata, but they are not commonly referred to with the term "trilogy".

Most trilogies are works of fiction involving the same characters or setting, such as The Deptford Trilogy of novels by Robertson Davies and The Apu Trilogy of films by Satyajit Ray. Others are connected only by theme: for example, each film of Krzysztof Kieślowski's Three Colors trilogy explores one of the political ideals of the French Republic (liberty, equality, fraternity). Trilogies can also be connected in less obvious ways, such as The Nova Trilogy of novels by William S. Burroughs, each written using cut-up technique.

The term is less often applied to music, such as the Berlin Trilogy of David Bowie which is linked together by musical sound and lyrical themes, all having been recorded at least partly in Berlin, Germany. The singer Adele has been quoted as saying that she "believes in trilogies", and considers her first three albums, 19, 21, and 25 to be a trilogy.The term is seldom applied outside art. One example is the "Marshall trilogy", a common term for three rulings written by U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall, from 1823 to 1832, concerning the legal status of Native Americans under U.S. law.Trilogies—and series in general—are common in science fiction and fantasy.

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