Foundation's Edge

by Isaac Asimov
Series: Foundation 4
Reviewed date: 2020 Jun 22
Rating: 4
426 pages
cover art

In 1995 I wrote a book report on Foundation's Edge. Miss Wollerton gave me a D.

Asimov deserves better than a D.

I did not.

But I am older now, and wiser, and thanks to Miss Wollerton, I have some idea about how writing and literature work. But in 1995, like most children, I was too focused on "what happens next" to see anything deeper in the story. In our book reports we were supposed to identify and explain a literary device that the author used. I had no idea how to do that, and I imagine that the D was generous. But now I understand. I remember when I got it: I and two other students were giving a group presentation on a short story. The Scarlet Ibis, I think. We presented it quite well. And Miss Wollerton said "So what?"


"You told me what was in the story, but so what? What's the reason? Why does it matter? Why did the author put it there? So what?"

And I thought. And I thought.

And suddenly I understood. Those words aren't just to tell what happens next. The words, the images, the objects--they mean something. They symbolize, they characterize, they foreshadow!

So now in 2020 I have re-read Foundation's Edge with the benefit of another quarter century of experience. It was a great story in 1995 and it still is, but now I see all the little ways that Asimov foreshadows the climactic moment where Golan Trevize decides the fate of the galaxy. In ways both subtle and obvious, Asimov telegraphs the importance of Golan Trevize, and even reveals in advance (for the careful reader) the choice the he will make. (And for the uncareful reader, Asimov hamfistedly calls attention to how he subtly telegraphed the choice, so we can all admire how clever he was sixty pages previously.)

Gendibal said nothing for a while. It was an eloquent nothing, and he maintained it just long enough for the First Speaker to grow uncertain of himself but not so long as to induce a defensive anger.

He timed it to the second and then he said, “That is not my interpretation. I believe that Trevize, at this moment, represents the cutting edge of the greatest threat to the Second Foundation in its history--a greater danger even than the Mule!”

Section 5: Speaker, Part 3 (p93)

“I am ashamed,” said the First Speaker, “that I have let myself be tempted into using the Plan for a purpose for which it is not fit. I am further ashamed now that I am allowing myself to be influenced by something that is purely intuitive. --Yet I must, for I feel this very strongly. If Speaker Gendibal is right--if we are in danger from an unknown direction--then I feel that when the time comes that our affairs are at a crisis, it will be Trevize who will hold and play the deciding card.”

“On what basis do you feel this?” said Delarmi, shocked.

First Speaker Shandess looked about the table miserably, “I have no basis. The psychohistorical mathematics produces nothing, but as I watched the interplay of relationships, it seemed to me that Trevize is the key to everything. Attention must be paid to this young man.”

Part 7: Farmer, Section 2 (p130-131)

History would say little or nothing about her. She merely sat at the controls of a spaceship, while the spaceship was maneuvered from without.

Even Indbur III, who had presided over the Foundation’s catastrophic fall to the Mule, had done something . He had, at least, collapsed.

For Mayor Branno there would be nothing!

Unless this Golan Trevize, this thoughtless Councilman, this lightning rod, made it possible--

Part 14: Forward!, Section 2 (p284)

Trevize searched his mind rapidly and finally said with a smile that he very much hoped looked unforced, “The time may come, Madam Mayor, when you will ask me for an effort. I will then do as I choose, but I will remember the past two days.”

Part 3: Historian, Section 5. (p58)

Branno said, “Councilman Trevize. The last time we met on Terminus, you said, ‘The time may come, Madam Mayor, when you will ask me for an effort, and I will then do as I choose, and I will remember the past two days.’ I don’t know whether you foresaw this, or intuitively felt it would happen, or simply had what this woman who speaks of a living Galaxy calls a talent for rightness. In any case, you were right. I am asking you for an effort on behalf of the Federation.

Part 19: Decision, Section 7. (p403)

The Galaxy was moving. Slowly, mightily, it was twisting in the direction that should be working to tighten the spiral arms.

Time was passing incredibly rapidly as they watched--a false, artificial time--and, as it did so, stars became evanescent things.

Some of the larger ones--here and there--reddened and grew brighter as they expanded into red giants. And then a star in the central clusters blew up soundlessly in a blinding blaze that, for a tiny fraction of a second, dimmed the Galaxy and then was gone. Then another in one of the spiral arms, then still another not very far away from it.

“Supernovas,” said Trevize a little shakily.

Was it possible that the computer could predict exactly which stars would explode and when? Or was it just using a simplified model that served to show the starry future in general terms, rather than precisely?

Pelorat said in a husky whisper, “The Galaxy looks like a living thing, crawling through space.”

“It does,” said Trevize

Part 4: Space, Section 3 (p75-76)

Trevize turned and found Pelorat looking at him intently. He said, “Janov. Have you heard all this?”

“Yes, I have, Golan.”

“What do you think?”

“The decision is not mine.”

“I know that. But what do you think.”

“I don’t know. I am frightened by all three alternatives. And yet a peculiar thought comes to me--”


“When we first went out into space, you showed me the Galaxy. Do you remember?”

“Of course.”

“You speeded time and the Galaxy rotated visibly. And I said, as though anticipating this very time, ‘The Galaxy looks like a living thing, crawling through space.’ Do you think that, in a way, it is alive already?”

And Trevize, remembering that moment, was suddenly sure. He remembered suddenly his feeling that Pelorat, too, would have a vital role to play. He turned in haste, anxious not to have time to think, to doubt, to grow uncertain.

He placed his hands on the terminals and thought with an intensity he had never known before. He had made his decision--the decision on which the fate of the Galaxy hung.

Part 19: Decision, Section 7. (p406)

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