by Isaac Asimov
Analysis: What's Up With the Ending?
Just imagine all the responsibility this ending has on its shoulders. Not only must it wrap up the story of "The Merchant Princes," but it ends the entire novel. On top of that, it needs to set up the sequel, Foundation and Empire. Did it manage to live up to that responsibility, or did it flake out to play video games and munch Funyuns all weekend?
We'd say it managed pretty well. Let's consider Mallow's final speech:
What business of mine is the future? No doubt Seldon has foreseen it and prepared against it. There will be other crises in the time to come when money power has become as dead a force as religion is now. Let my successors solve those new problems, as I have solved the one of today. (V.18.86)
His words continue the tradition set forth in the previous stories. Mallow trusted science and Seldon's plan. Through his aversion to violence and promotion of rational thinking, he resolved the third Seldon Crisis. And finally, he trusts that even future generations will be able to solve their unique problems by using reason. Why should Mallow worry? They have the tools they need.
Okay, so this wraps up Foundation. But it also leaves questions unanswered for the sequel. What new problems will Foundation face? Will reason really solve the problems to come? Will the Foundation's successors be wise enough to see Seldon's Plan through? And will the remnants of the Empire in the center of the galaxy prove to be a threat?
To find out, tune in next time—by which we mean, read Foundation and Empire.
Oh, and while we're here, we have a fun fact. Mallow's children Sennett Forell and Bayta Darell both appear in the next novel of the series. So his final words are a bit of a prophecy. It really will be "his successors" who'll have to deal with the next Seldon Crisis.