Glossary of Characters
Last Recording Made by Hari Seldon
I am Hari Seldon. Former First Minister to Emperor Cleon I. Professor Emeritus of Psychohistory at Streeling University on Trantor. Director of the Psychohistory Research Project. Executive Editor of the Encyclopedia Galactica. Creator of the Foundation.
It all sounds quite impressive, I know. I have done a great deal in my eighty-one years and I am tired. Looking back over my life, I wonder if I could have - should have - done certain things differently. For instance: Was I so concerned with the grand sweep of psychohistory that the people and events that intersected my life sometimes seemed inconsequential by comparison?
Perhaps I neglected to make some small incidental adjustments here or there that would have in no way compromised the future of humanity but might have dramatically improved the life of an individual dear to me. - Yugo, Raych ... I can't help but wonder ... Was there something I could have done to save my beloved Dors?
Last month I finished recording the Crisis holograms. My assistant, Gaal Dornick, has taken them to Terminus to oversee their installation in the Seldon Vault. He will make sure that the Vault is sealed and that the proper instructions are left for the eventual openings of the Vault, during the Crises.
I'll be dead by then, of course.
What will they think, those future Foundationers, when they see me (or, more accurately, my hologram) during the First Crisis, almost fifty years from now? Will they comment on how old I look or how weak my voice is or how small I seem, bundled in this wheelchair? Will they understand - appreciate - the message I've left for them? - Ah well, there's really no point in speculating. As the ancients would say: The die is cast.
I heard from Gaal yesterday. All is going well on Terminus. Bor Alurin and the Project members are flourishing in "exile". I shouldn't gloat, but I can't help but chuckle when I recall the self-satisfied look on the face of that pompous idiot Linge Chen when he banished he banished the Project to Terminus two years ago. Although ultimately the exile was couched in terms of an Imperial Charter ("A state-supported scientific institution and part of the personal domain of His August Majesty, the Emperor" - the Chief Commissioner wanted us off Trantor and out of his hair, but he could not bear the thought of giving up complete control), it is still a source of secret delight to know that it was Las Zenow and I who chose Terminus as Foundation's home.
My one regret where Linge Chen is concerned is that we were not able to save Agis. That emperor was a good man and a noble leader, even if he was Imperial in name only. His mistake was to believe in his title and the Commission of Public Safety would not tolerate the burgeoning Imperial independence.
I often wonder what they did to Agis - was he exiled to some remote Outer World or assassinated like Cleon?
The boy-child who sits on the throne today is the perfect puppet Emperor. He obeys every word Linge Chen whispers in his ear and fancies himself a budding statesman. The Palace and trappings of Imperial life are but toys to him in some vast fantastical game.
What will I do know? With Gaal finally gone to join the Terminus group, I am utterly alone. I hear from Wanda occasionally. The work at Star's End continues on course; in the past decade she and Stettin have added dozens of mentalics to their number. They increasingly grow in power. It was the Star's End contingent - my secret Foundation - who pushed Linge Chen into sending the Encyclopedists to Terminus.
I miss Wanda. It has been many years since I've seen her, sat with her quietly, holding her hand. When Wanda left, even though I had asked her to go, I thought I would die of heartbreak. That was, perhaps, the most difficult decision I ever had to make and, although I never told her, I almost decided against it. But for the Foundation to succeed, it was necessary for Wanda and Stettin to go to Star's End. Psychohistory decreed it, - so perhaps it wasn't my decision after all.
I still come here every day, to my office in the Psychohistory Building. I remember when this structure was filled with people, day and night. Sometimes I feel as if it's filled with voices, those of my long-departed family, students, colleagues - but the offices are empty and silent. The hallways echo with the whir of the wheelchair motor.
I suppose I should vacate the building, return it to the University to allocate to another department. But somehow it's hard to let go of this place. There are so many memories ...
All I have now is this, my Prime Radiant. This is the means by which psychohistory can be computed, through which every equation in my Plan may be analysed, all here in this amazing, small black cube. As I sit here, this deceptively simple-looking tool in the palm of my hand, I wish I could show it to R. Daneel Olivaw ...
But I am alone, and need only to close a contact for the office lights to dim. As I settle back in my wheelchair, the Prime Radiant activates, its equations spreading around me in three-dimensional splendor. To the untrained eye, this multicoloured swirl would be merely a jumble of shapes and numbers, but for me - and Yugo, Wanda, Gaal - this is psychohistory, come to life.
What I see before me, around me, is the future of humanity. Thirty thousand years of potential chaos, compressed into a single millennium ...
That patch, glowing more strongly day by day, is the Terminus equation. And there - skewed beyond repair - are the Trantor figures. But I can see ... yes, softly beaming, a steady light of hope ... Star's End!
This - this - was my life's work. My past - humanity's future. Foundation. So beautiful, so alive. And nothing can ...
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