Quotes from ‘Foundation and Empire’ by Isaac Asimov

Read the review for the book

These are a few excerpts from the book with a little commentary from moi (okay, more than a little).

Conceive it! It is a world the size of a handkerchief, of a fingernail; with resources so petty, power so minute, a population so microscopic as would never suffice the most backward worlds of the dusty prefects of the Dark Stars. Yet with that, a people so proud and ambitious as to dream quietly and methodically of Galactic rule.

Why, they are so sure of themselves that they do not even hurry. They move slowly, phlegmatically; they speak of necessary centuries. They swallow worlds at leisure; creep through systems with dawdling complacence. And they succeed. There is no one to stop them. They have built up a filthy trading community that curls its tentacles about the systems further than their toy ships dare reach. For parsecs, their Traders – which is what their agents call themselves – penetrate.

A description of the awesomeness that is the Foundation. Simply superb.

Cleon II was Lord of the Universe. Cleon II also suffered from a painful and undiagnosed ailment. By the queer twists of human affairs, the two statements are not mutually exclusive, nor even particularly incongruous.

See what he did there? Hehehe..

Mayor Indbur was the third of the name and the second to succeed by right of birth, and he was the least of the three, for he was neither brutal nor capable – but merely an excellent bookkeeper born wrong.

To him, a stilted geometric love of arrangement was “system,” an indefatigable and feverish interest in the pettiest facets of day-to-day bureaucracy was “industry,” indecision when right was “caution,” and blind stubbornness when wrong, “determination.”

Character descriptions are the USP of this series. These are supposed to be directly from the encyclopedia prepared by the Foundation.

“Were I to use the wits the good Spirits gave me,” he said, “then I would say this lady can not exist – for what sane man would hold a dream to be reality. Yet rather would I not be sane and lend belief to charmed, enchanted eyes. Yet not alone for eyes and face,” babbled the clown, as his words hurled past each other in heightened frenzy, “but also for a mind, clear and sturdy – and kind as well.”

How the court Jester serenades Bayta (an important female character)

Randu felt an old, old man. His face sagged hopelessly, “I am afraid a monster is grown that will devour all of us. Yet we must fight him.”

Randu felt an old, old man. His face sagged hopelessly, “I am afraid a monster is grown that will devour all of us. Yet we must fight him.”

The sense of foreboding in this simple, single statement is inescapable!

It was strange that a world which had been the center of a Galaxy for two thousand years – that had ruled limitless space and been home to legislators and rulers whose whims spanned the parsecs – could die in a month. It was strange that a world which had been untouched through the vast conquering sweeps and retreats of a millennia, and equally untouched by the civil wars and palace revolutions of other millennia – should lie dead at last. It was strange that the Glory of the Galaxy should be a rotting corpse.

Someone talking about Trantor, the thriving capital of the erstwhile Galactic empire. A testament to the impermanence of life and the inevitable decay that awaits everything.

The game’s over, and I’d like to tell you a story. It’s a weakness of mine – I want people to understand me. I call myself the Mule – but not because of my strength – obviously–

The mule. Profound, mysterious, intelligent and all conquering. What a character!

One comment

  1. PrussianBlue · · Reply

    Terrific quotes, Aamil. Peak Asimov almost approaches a -day I say- Tolkienesque sense of ‘expression’, if not by the prose style, but also whatever is being described. The Psychohistorians, the Big and the Little, the Search for the Mule, the Search by the Foundation and Hober Mallow’s story – all convey this impression.

    The sense of a decaying empire is extremely well-conveyed (in a very abbreviated manner) by the meltdown of nuclear reactors, Cleon II’s diseases, and the crushing rebellion on Siwenna.

    Much more I can’t think of right now.


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