Foundation's Fear

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R. Daneel Olivaw did not look like Eto Demerzel. That role he had already cast aside.

This Dors Vanabili expected, though it was unsettling to her. She knew that through millennia he had discarded the skin and shape of countless guises.

Dors studied him in the cramped, dingy room two Sectors away from Streeling University. She had followed a convoluted route to get here and the site was protected by elaborate, overlapping secur­ ity measures. Robots were outlaws. They had lived for millennia in the deep shadow of taboo. Though Olivaw was her guide and mentor, she saw him seldom.

Yet as a humaniform robot she felt a tremor of mingled fear and reverence at this ancient, partly metallic form before her. He was nearly twenty millennia old. Though he could appear human, he did not truly wish to be human. He was inexpressibly greater than that now.

She had lived happily as a pseudo-person for so long now. Even a reminder of who and what she was came like cold fingers along her spine. "The recent increasing attention paid to Hari…"

"Indeed. You fear you will be detected."

"The newest security measures are so invasive!"

He nodded. "You are correct to be concerned."

"I need more help in protecting Hari."

"Adding another of us to his close associates would double the danger of detection."

"I know, I know, but…"

Olivaw reached out and touched her hand. She blinked back tears and studied his face. Small matters, such as consistent move­ ment of his Adam's apple when he swallowed, had long ago been perfected. To ease himself in this meeting, he had omitted these minor computations and movements. He obviously enjoyed even momentary freedom from such taxation.

"I am constantly fearful," she admitted.

"You should be. He is much threatened. But you are designed to function best with a high level of apprehension."

"I know my specifications, yes, but-take this latest move of yours, involving him in Imperial politics at the highest level. It im­ poses severe strain on my task."

"A necessary move."

"It may distract him from his work, from psychohistory."

Olivaw shook his head slowly. "I doubt that. He is a certain special kind of human-driven. He once remarked to me, 'Genius does what it must and talent does what it can'-thinking that he merely had talent."

She smiled ruefully. "But he is a genius."

"And like all such, unique. Humans have that-rare, great excur­ sions from the mean. Evolution has selected them for it, though they do not seem to realize that."

"And we?"

"Evolution cannot act on one who lives forever. In any case, there has not been time. We can and do develop ourselves, however."

"Humans are also murderous."

"We are few; they are many. And they have deep animal spirits we cannot fathom, in the end, no matter how we try."

"I care about Hari, first."

"And the Empire, a distant second?" He gave her a thin smile. "I care for the Empire only so far as it safeguards humanity."

"From what?"

"From itself. Just remember, Dors: this is the Cusp Era, as anti­ cipated by ourselves for so long. The most critical period in all of history."

"I know the term, but what is the substance? Do we have a theory of history?"

For the first time Daneel Olivaw showed expression, a rueful grimace. "We are not capable of a deep theory. For that, we would have to understand humans far better."

"But we have something…?"

"A different way of viewing humanity, one now badly strained. It caused us to shape this greatest of humanity's creations, the Empire."

"I do not know of this-"

"No need for you to. We now require a more profound view. That is why Hari is so important."

Dors frowned, troubled for reasons she could not quite express. "This earlier, simpler theory of…ours. It tells you that humanity now must have psychohistory?"

"Exactly. We know this, from our own crude theory. But only this."

"For more, we rely on Hari alone?"

"Alas, yes."



HARI SELDON-…though it is the best existing authority on the details of Seldon's life, the biography by Gaal Dornick cannot be trusted regarding the early rise to power. As a young man, Dornick met Seldon only two years before the great mathist's death. By then, rumor and even legend had already begun to grow about Seldon, particularly regarding his shadowy period of large-scale authority within the fading Imperium.

How Seldon became the only mathist in all Galactic history to ascend to political power remains one of the most intract­ able puzzles for Seldon scholars. He gave no sign of ambitions beyond the building of a science of "history"-all the while envisioning not the mere fathoming of the past, but in fact the prediction of the future. (As Seldon himself remarked to Dor­ nick, he early on desired "the prevention of certain kinds of futures.")

Certainly the mysterious exit of Eto Demerzel as First Minister was the opening act in a play of large proportions. That Cleon I immediately turned to Seldon suggests that De­ merzel hand-picked his successor. Yet why go to Seldon? Historians are divided about the motivations of the central players in this crucial moment. The Empire had entered a period of challenge and disruption, coming especially from what Seldon termed the "chaos worlds." How Seldon adroitly maneuvered against powerful opponents, despite no recorded experience in the political arena, remains an active but vexing area of research…


All quotations from the Encyclopedia Galactica here reproduced are taken from the 116th edition, published 1,020 F .E. by the Encyclopedia Galactica Publishing Co., Terminus, with permission of the publishers.


He had made enough enemies to acquire a nickname, Hari Seldon mused, and not enough friends to hear what it was.

He could feel the truth of that in the murmuring energy in the crowds. Uneasily he walked from his apartment to his office across the broad squares of Streeling University. "They don't like me," he said.

Dors Vanabili matched his stride easily, studying the massed faces. "I do not sense any danger."

"Don't worry your pretty head about assassination attempts-at least, not right away."

"My, you're in a fine mood today."

"I hate this security screen. Who wouldn't?"

The Imperial Specials had fanned out in what their captain termed "an engaging perimeter" around Hari and Dors. Some carried flash-screen projectors, capable of warding off a full heavy-weapons as­ sault. Others looked equally dangerous bare-handed.

Their scarlet-and-blue uniforms made it easy to see where the crowd was impinging on the moving security boundary as Hari walked slowly across the main campus square. Where the crowd was thickest, the bright uniforms simply bulled their way through. The entire spectacle made him acutely uncomfortable. Specials were not noted for their diplomacy and this was, after all, a quiet place of learning. Or had been.

Dors clasped his hand in reassurance. "A First Minister can't simply walk around without-"

"I'm not First Minister!"

"The Emperor has designated you, and that's enough for this crowd."

"The High Council hasn't acted. Until they do-"

"Your friends will assume the best," she said mildly.

"These are my friends?" Hari eyed the crowd suspiciously.

"They're smiling."

So they were. One called, "Hail the Prof Minister!" and others laughed.

"Is that my nickname now?"

"Well, it's not a bad one."

"Why do they flock so?"

"People are drawn to power."

"I'm still just a professor!"

To offset his irritation, Dors chuckled at him, a wifely reflex. "There's an ancient saying, 'These are the times that fry men's souls.' "

"You have a bit of historical wisdom for everything."

"It's one of the few perks that come with being an historian."

Someone called, "Hey, Math Minister!"

Hari said, "I don't like that name any better."

"Get used to it. You'll be called worse."

They passed by the great Streeling fountain and Hari took refuge in a moment of contemplating its high, arching waters. The splashes drowned out the crowd and he could almost imagine he was back in his simple, happy life. Then he had only had to worry about psychohistory and Streeling University infighting. That snug little world had vanished, perhaps forever, the moment Cleon decided to make him a figure in Imperial politics.

The fountain was glorious, yet even it reminded him of the vastness that lay beneath such simplicities. Here the tinkling streams broke free, but their flight was momentary. Trantor's waters ran in mournful dark pipes, down dim passages scoured by ancient engin­ eers. A maze of fresh water arteries and sewage veins twined through the eternal bowels. These bodily fluids of the planet had passed through uncountable trillions of kidneys and throats, had washed away sins, been toasted with at marriages and births, had carried off the blood of murders and the vomit of terminal agonies. They flowed on in their deep night, never knowing the clean vapor joy of unfettered weather, never free of man's hand.

They were trapped. So was he.

Their party reached the Mathist Department and ascended. Dors rose through the traptube beside him, a breeze fluttering her hair amiably, the effect quite flattering. The Specials took up watchful, rigid positions outside.

Just as he had for the last week, Hari tried again with the captain. "Look, you don't really need to keep a dozen men sitting out here-"

"I'll be the judge of that, Academician sir, if you please."

Hari felt frustrated at the waste of it. He noticed a young Special-man eyeing Dors, whose uni-suit revealed while still covering. Something made him say, "Well then, I will thank you to have your men keep their eyes where they belong!"

The captain looked startled. He glared at the offending man and stomped over to reprimand him. Hari felt a spark of satisfaction. Going in the entrance to his office, Dors said, "I'll try to dress more strictly."

"No, no, I'm just being stupid. I shouldn't let tiny things like that bother me."

She smiled prettily. "Actually, I rather liked it."

"You did? Me being stupid?"

"Your being protective."

Dors had been assigned years before to watch over him, by Eto Demerzel. Hari reflected that he had gotten used to that role of hers, little noticing that it conflicted in a deep, unspoken way with her also being a woman. Dors was utterly self-reliant, but she had qualities which sometimes did not easily jibe with her duty. Being his wife, for example.

"I will have to do it more often," he said lightly.

Still, he felt a pang of guilt about making trouble for the Special-men. Their being here was certainly not their idea; Cleon had ordered it. No doubt they would far rather be off somewhere saving the Empire with sweat and valor.

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