From Hari Seldon to Hober Mallow, ‘Foundation’ uses many characters to tell its story across different time eras. After the fall of the Galactic Empire, the story of the Foundation begins as the organization starts a complex political tug of war with its neighbors. Because each crisis occurred separately, the novel used new characters for each story.
Hari Seldon is the main character in ‘Foundation.’ As a mathematician and psychologist, Hari invents psychohistory, a field of study that predicts the future using the past. On discovering psychohistory, Hari realized that the Galactic Empire was heading for doom. On hearing about Hari Seldon’s work, the commission for public safety orders his arrest. In the trial for treason, Hari explained that he used psychohistory to determine the Galactic Empire’s future, and his calculations led to the fact that the Empire would fall in 500 years.
Hari tells the commission that he had the solution, but that would require the creation of the Encyclopedia Galactica. Convincing the commission, Hari and his 100,000 followers get banished to Terminus, an isolated planet on the outer periphery of the galaxy. However, Hari reveals to Gaal Dornick that he would not live to see the Foundation reach Terminus because he was terminally ill and had only two years left to live. Hari ensured the time vault got made on Terminus to guide the Foundation through the crisis.
Gaal Dornick is a mathematician and believer of Hari Seldon’s work. Born on Synnax in the year 12,067, Gaal Dornick gets his doctorate. On receiving an invitation to Trantor, Gaal leaves his planet, and on reaching Trantor, he meets Hari Seldon, who introduces him to his work.
After interpreting Hari Seldon’s work, Gaal realizes that the Galactic Empire would fall. He gets arrested alongside Hari, and after proving their case, Hari gets exiled to Terminus. Before leaving for Terminus, Hari reveals to Gaal that he had only two years to live. He then tasks Gaal with leading the Foundation and gives him the crisis tapes. On reaching Terminus, Gaal oversees the development of the time vault, a tool that became crucial for the Foundation in surviving the crisis.
Salvor Hardin is the first mayor of Terminus. After the Foundation reaches Terminus, the Board of Trustees gets formed to oversee the creation of the Encyclopedia Galactica. However, Salvor Hardin, a skilled diplomat, realized that the Foundation was at a political disadvantage as its neighbors had become independent kingdoms. Bringing his concerns before the Board, Hardin gets shrugged off. However, he craftily diverts the Anacreons from taking over Terminus, and after the time vault opens, Hari Seldon tells him he was right. With leverage over the Board of Trustees, Salvor Hardin builds a political system on Terminus.
Thirty years later, Hardin faces opposition from members of a new group called the Actionist Party. With the Foundation holding control over the four kingdoms with its religion of scientism, Hardin discovers a plot by the Anacreon Prince regent, Wienis, to destroy the Foundation. However, Hardin uses his political genius tactics with his ace weapon of scientism to defeat Wienis.
Doctor Lewis Pirenne is the chairman of the Foundation’s Board of trustees and the leader of the Encyclopedists. After Hardin brings up the issue of the Foundation’s political flaws, Lewis shrugs his concerns away, stating that the Foundation should work on the encyclopedia alone. However, after the time vault opens and Hari Seldon reveals that the encyclopedia was a scam, Lewis accepts defeat and his power in the governance of the Foundation wanes into irrelevance. Lewis’s blind faith shows that he was rigid and refused to be open to new ideas. After the time vault, he gives up the leadership of the Foundation to Hardin.
Lord Dorwin is a noble chancellor from Trantor. With artificially long curly hair and speech impairment that makes him replace the Rs in his words, Lord Dorwin delivers the bad news of the Galactic Empire’s gradual demise to Hardin. Dorwin tells Hardin of a nuclear meltdown experienced on Trantor; this made him realize that the Galactic Empire no longer protected the Foundation.
Sef Sermak is the leader of the Actionists Party, a political organization that rivaled Hardin’s rule as mayor. After the Actionists Party gets created, Sef Sermak becomes a rival to Salvor Hardin and begins to propose that the Foundation takes direct action against the four kingdoms instead of Hardin’s subtle method of technology trade and scientism. After Hardin defeats Wienis and saves the Foundation from the crisis, Sef and his accomplices apologize and admit they were wrong for doubting Hardin’s rule. Years after Hardin relinquishes power as mayor, Sef Sermak becomes the mayor and redistributes some of the estates of Hardin’s barons.
Ploy Verisof is a Smyrnian high priest of Anacreon and a representative of the Foundation to the Prince Regent Wienis. After Hardin discovers a plot against him, he employs the help of Poly Verisof, who uses his mass following to instigate a mob against Prince Regent Wienis. Verisof ensures Hardin’s victory against Wienis in ‘Foundation.’
Prince Wienis of Anacreon is the son of the first Anacreonian king. After the death of his older brother, Wienis’s nephew, Lepold I, hands over royal power to him as the prince regent. With his control over the military and foreign affairs, Wienis begins plotting against Hardin and the Foundation. He orders the repair of an abandoned Imperial battlecruiser. However, Hardin’s foresight allows him to order minute modifications to the ship. On the eve of Lepold’s coronation, Wienis invites Hardin and orders his arrest.
On discovering Hardin’s arrest, Poly Verisof incites a mob and tells them about Wienis’s blasphemy against the Foundation; this causes an uprising as the mob march to the palace, demanding Hardin’s release. On the battlecruiser, Hardin’s modifications cause it to shut down. Believing the ship shutting down is a sign from God, Theo Aporat leads a mutiny against the ship’s captain, Admiral Leftkin, Wienis’s son. On discovering his plan to destroy the Foundation has failed, Wienis tries to kill Hardin but fails because of a protective shield Hardin had around him. Realizing his defeat, Wienis commits suicide.
Limmar Ponyets is a master trader for the Foundation. After Eskel Gorov gets arrested on Askone, Limmar gets sent to negotiate his release. On reaching Askone, Limmar realizes that the planet’s strict religious beliefs forbid the use of advanced technology, which is one of the main themes in ‘Foundation.’ However, Limmar meets the Grand Master, leader of the Elders of Askone. While negotiating with him, he discovers that the Grand Master is willing to accept a bribe in gold; this leads Limmar to use a transmuter to convert iron to gold.
On realizing the soft spot Askone had for gold, Limmar meets with Pherl, the Grand Master’s prodigy, and proposes to make him become the Grand Master. On agreeing to Limmar’s deal, Pherl receives the transmuter in his possession. However, Limmar reveals to Pherl that he had recorded their conversations; this leads to Eskel’s freedom. Askone allows the Foundation to get the Tin present on the planet.
Hober Mallow is a character that comes into play 20 years after the events regarding Limmar and Askone. The Foundation tries expanding its border. However, it faces opposition as some of its ships go missing. Mallow gets sent by the Foundation to investigate the ship’s disappearances and negotiate with the Republic of Korell. He discovers that the Republic hated the Foundation’s missionaries.
Mallow gets invited to Korell by Asper Argo, the Commdor, and he discovers that the planet has no heavy industries. Noticing the emblem of the Galactic Empire on Korell’s guards’ weapons, Mallow realized that the Republic was working with the old Galactic Empire. He leaves Korell for Siwenna, where he meets Onum Barr, a former senator. Mallow tours around a power plant in Siwenna and realizes that the Foundation needs to change its strategy from scientism.
One year after returning to Terminus, Mallow gets accused of murder by Jorane Sutt. However, he presents a recording proving his innocence; this makes him gain the people’s support to become mayor. On becoming mayor, Mallow ends the scientism approach used by the Foundation and gradually turns Terminus into a plutocratic empire.
Jorane Sutt is the antagonist in Hober Mallow’s story. As the mayoral secretary, Jorane connives with Publis Manlio to weaken the master traders; this leads them to plant Jaim Twer as a spy on Mallow’s ship. One year after Mallow returns from Siwenna, Jorane accuses him of murder by negligence. However, Mallow provides recordings proving that the missionary aboard his ship was a Korellian spy; this increases Mallow’s popularity. With the people’s support, Mallow engineers Jorane and Publis’s arrest.
Other characters in the novel include Linge Chen, Yohan Lee, Aslem Haut Rodric, Tomaz Sutt, King Lepold I, Les Gorm, Eskel Gorov, Publis Manlio, Jaim Twer, and Onum Barr.
What are some great quotes from ‘Foundation‘ by Isaac Asimov?
“It pays to be obvious, especially if you have a reputation for subtlety.”
“If you’re born into a cubicle and grow up in a corridor, and work in a cell, and vacation in a crowded sun-room, then coming up into the open with nothing but sky over you might just give you a nervous breakdown.”
Does Foundation novel focus on politics alone?
Though its focus primarily lies on politics, ‘Foundation’ by Isaac Asimov also focuses on religion and the lives of its characters. It pays attention to minute details.
Who is Asper Argo in by Isaac Asimov?
Asper Argo is the military leader of the Republic of Korell. As the Commdor, Asper invites Hober Mallow to his palace, where Hober realizes that the Galactic Empire had some hold over Asper.
Who are the antagonists in The Merchant Princes?
The primary antagonists in ‘The Merchant Princes’ are Jorane Sutt and Publis Manlio, the Mayoral and Foreign Secretary.