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Home > Forward the Foundation (Foundation 0.2)

Forward the Foundation (Foundation 0.2)
Author: Isaac Asimov

Part I

Eto Demerzel

DEMERZEL, ETO-... While there is no question that Eto Demerzel was the real power in the government during much of the reign of Emperor Cleon I, historians are divided as to the nature of his rule. The classic interpretation is that he was another in the long line of strong and ruthless oppressors in the last century of the undivided Galactic Empire, but there are revisionist views that have surfaced and that insist his was, if a despotism, a benevolent one. Much is made, in this view, of his relationship with Hari Seldon though that remains forever uncertain, particularly during the unusual episode of Laskin Joranum, whose meteoric rise - Encyclopedia Galactica [1]

1

"I think Hari,"** said Yugo Amaryl, "that your friend Demerzel is in deep trouble." He emphasized the word "friend" very lightly and with unmistakable air of distaste.

Hari Seldon detected the sour note and ignored it. He looked up from his tricomputer and said, "I tell you again, Yugo, that that's nonsense." And then-with a trace of annoyance, just a trace-he added, "Why are you taking up my time by insisting?"

"Because I think it's important." Amaryl sat down defiantly. It was a gesture that indicated he was not going to be moved easily. Here he was and here he would stay.

Eight years before, he had been a heatsinker in the Dahl Sector-as low on the social scale as it was possible to be. He had been lifted out of that position by Seldon-**made into a mathematician and an intellectual-more than that, into a psychohistorian.

Never for one minute did he forget what he had been and who he was now and to whom he owed the change. That meant that if he had to speak harshly to Hari Seldon-for Seldon's own good-no consideration of respect and love for the older man and no regard for his own career would stop him. He owed such harshness-and much more-to Seldon.

"Look, Hari," he said, chopping at the air with his left hand, "for some reason that is beyond my understanding, you think highly of this Demerzel, but I don't. No one whose opinion I respect-except you-thinks well of him. I don't care what happens to him personally, Hari, but as long as I think you do, I have no choice but to bring this to your attention."

Seldon smiled, as much at the other's earnestness as at what he considered to be the uselessness of his concern. He was fond of Yugo Amaryl-more than fond. Yugo was one of the four people he had encountered during that short period of his life when he was in flight across the face of the planet Trantor-Eto Demerzel, Dors Venabili, Yugo Amaryl, and Raych-four, the likes of which he had not found since.

In a particular and, in each case, different way, these four were indispensable to him-Yugo Amaryl, because of his quick understanding of the principles of psychohistory and of his imaginative probings into new areas. It was comforting to know that if anything happened to Seldon himself before the mathematics of the field could be completely worked out-and how slowly it proceeded, and how mountainous the obstacles there would at least remain one good mind that would continue the research.

He said, "I'm sorry, Yugo. I don't mean to be impatient with you or to reject out of hand whatever it is you are so anxious to make me understand. It's just this job of mine; it's this business of being a department head-"

Amaryl found it his turn to smile and he repressed a slight chuckle. "I'm sorry, Hari, and I shouldn't laugh, but you have no natural aptitude for the position."

"As well I know, but I'll have to learn. I have to seem to be doing something harmless and there is nothing-nothing-more harmless than being the head of the Mathematics Department at Streeling University. I can fill my day with unimportant tasks, so that no one need know or ask about the course of our psychohistorical research, but the trouble is, I do fill my day with unimportant tasks and I have insufficient time to-" His eyes glanced around his office at the material stored in computers to which only he and Amaryl had the key and which, even if anyone else stumbled upon them, had been carefully phrased in an invented symbology that no one else would understand.

Amaryl said, "Once you work your way further into your duties, you'll begin to delegate and then you'll have more time."

"I hope so," said Seldon dubiously. "But tell me, what is it about Eto Demerzel that is so important?"

"Simply that Eto Demerzel, our great Emperor's First Minister, is busily creating an insurrection."

Seldon frowned. "Why would he want to do that?"

"I didn't say he wants to. He's simply doing it-whether he knows it or not-and with considerable help from some of his political enemies. That's all right with me, you understand. I think that, under ideal conditions, it would be a good thing to have him out of the Palace, off Trantor... beyond the Empire, for that matter. But you think highly of him, as I've said, and so I'm warning you, because I suspect that you are not following the recent political course of events as closely as you should."

"There are more important things to do," said Seldon mildly.

"Like psychohistory. I agree. But how are we going to develop psychohistory with any hope of success if we remain ignorant of politics? I mean, present-day politics. Now-now-is the time when the present is turning into the future. We can't just study the past. We know what happened in the past. It's against the present and the near future that we can check our results."

"It seems to me," said Seldon, "that I have heard this argument before."

"And you'll hear it again. It doesn't seem to do me any good to explain this to you."

Seldon sighed, sat back in his chair, and regarded Amaryl with a smile. The younger man could be abrasive, but he took psychohistory seriously-and that repaid all.

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