Second Foundation: Storyline, Characters, and How It Leads into the Next Volume of the Foundation Series Books

Second Foundation

A series of political, technological, and economic maneuvers by the Foundation has so far ensured the survival of the galactic civilization. The Foundation is now a superpower, replacing the old regime and practically establishing itself as the leader of a new and better empire. Everything runs by the grand plan of Hari Seldon, but only until the emergence of a psychic mutant, the Mule. At the end of Foundation and Empire, the Mule takes over Terminus City and assumes control of the new empire.

The next part of the story, Second Foundation, concludes the original trilogy of the Foundation Series books. Like the previous volume, there are only two parts in Second Foundation.

Search by the Mule

An obsession with finding the location of the Second Foundation puts the Mule’s advances toward total domination of the galaxy to a grinding halt. For the Mule, the existence of the Second Foundation will always be a threat to his supremacy. While the Second Foundation is now an established existence instead of mere hearsay and rumors, the Mule has no idea about the kind of powers it has.

Fear of the unknown leads him to a series of big mistakes that will ultimately end his reign. He expects resistance from the Second Foundation, so he postpones any attempt to expand the territory and focuses all efforts on uncovering the threat. As it turns out, such a delay gives just enough time for the Second Foundation to devise an effective strategy to defeat the Mule. A big part of the tactic is to deliver misleading information to his search team.

The Mule appoints two individuals to lead the search: Han Pitcher, a former captain of underground resistance who has been converted (mind-controlled) and Bail Channis, a rising star in the Mule’s political ranks. Appointing the “unconverted” Channis is the Mule’s first big mistake. Channis takes Pitcher to Planet Rossem, as he believes that is where the Second Foundation is located. The Mule follows the two to Rossem and destroys the planet.

The Head of the Council (First Speaker) of the Second Foundation appears and tells the Mule the big news. Channis has been implanted with false knowledge to mislead the Mule. In the meantime, agents of the Second Foundation are on their way to the First Foundation to reverse the mind control. The Mule can’t stop the agents as he is too far away from Rossem. The First Speaker can subdue the Mule and force him to make his way to Kalgan to spend his short life in exile.

Search by the Foundation

Taking place 55 years after the Mule’s demise, the First Foundation is still trying to restore order, in terms of political integrity and influence over the galaxy. The vast majority of the population is aware of the events that eventually brought down the Mule’s tyranny, and now they have shifted focus toward the protection and preservation of the Second Foundation. That said, a small minority remains unconvinced. Rumors have it that the Second Foundation is plotting to take control of the First Foundation and plans to establish itself as the ultimate power of the Second Galactic Empire.

For once, rumors are true. One of the biggest parts of the Seldon Plan involves the Second Foundation being the de-facto ruler, while the First Foundation acts as the technological forefront of the galaxy. To neutralize the threat, the Second Foundation resorts to the same tactic as it did when dealing with the Mule. Some agents spread convincing fake news about the destruction of the Second Foundation.

The real location of the Second Foundation remains hidden, and the minority doesn’t care about it any longer. Such obliviousness along with the defeat of the Mule allows the Second Foundation to thrive without meaningful resistance. One thing is certain to this point: the great Seldon Plan has been well executed.

By the end of the trilogy, it becomes clear that Seldon—the man who started it all at Terminus City—only appeared to depend on practical technology when he established the Foundation. His original plan was about shortening the period of chaos following the decline of the Galactic Empire so that the galaxy might return to peace before too long. But Seldon dreamed bigger. The Foundation didn’t work to restore order for the empire; Seldon wanted it to replace the old regime. He also secretly built another Foundation at the end of the galaxy to help establish the Second Galactic Empire.

We think Second Foundation delivers a truly appropriate ending to a story that spans centuries across an entire galaxy. Hundreds of years have passed since Seldon’s exile on Terminus, the start of an elaborate and masterfully executed dispersion of knowledge, science, technology, enlightenment, and of course deception. And the biggest deception of all is the falsehood regarding the destruction of the Second Foundation. While the conclusion might not seem much like a cliffhanger, the very falsehood and the subsequent quest for the truth bring the tale to an open ending. The original trilogy is over with Second Foundation, but not the story.

Have you finished the Foundation Trilogy? Does the conclusion meet or perhaps exceed your expectation? We’d love to hear from you.

Other things you might want to know:

Is there a continuation to the trilogy?

The Foundation was originally intended as a trilogy, but Isaac Asimov was convinced to write the fourth book titled “Foundation’s Edge” in 1982 (Second Foundation was published in 1953). The story came to a close with “Foundation and Earth” published in 1986.

What about prequel books?

The prequel books, consisting of “Prelude to Foundation” and “Forward the Foundation,” published respectively in 1988 and 1993, came after the sequel series.

Did Asimov also write non-fiction books?

His non-fiction literary works are mostly comprised of history books. Some of his most popular non-fiction writings include Asimov’s Chronology of the World (1991), The Egyptians (1967), The Roman Empire (1967), and The Roman Republic (1966).

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