Study Guide

Foundation Part I, Chapter 4

By Isaac Asimov

Part I, Chapter 4

  • Gaal is flabbergasted at meeting Seldon like this.
  • Seldon admits he wouldn't usually do it this way but desperate times, desperate measure, you know?
  • See, Jerril is an agent for the Commission of Public Safety, and he's been following Gaal cloak-and-dagger style since the space-port.
  • Ha! We knew something was off about the guy.
  • The discussion turns to why Seldon is called Raven Seldon.
  • Using his calculator, Seldon comes up with a figure representing the Empire in its present shape. He then adds to the figure, "the known probability of Imperial assassination, viceregal revolt, the contemporary recurrence of periods of economic depression, the declining rate of planetary explorations, theā€¦" and on and on and on (I.4.22).
  • The new figure shows Trantor undergoing complete and utter destruction. Da-da to the DA-dum.
  • Trantor has become overly specialized and too large a prize for those who desire power to ignore.
  • Gaal does the calculations and discovers that the destruction will come about in three centuries with a probability of about 85%. Seldon confirms the probability is actually 92.5%. Odds, it seems, are in the house's favor. If the house is someone who really has it in for Trantor.
  • Seldon warns Gaal that these figures mean every aspect of his research is under investigation by the aristocracy, with a 1.7% chance of him being executed.
  • Honestly though, those odds aren't too bad. If you've ever driven in L.A. rush hour traffic, your dead odds were significantly more than that.
  • Gaal says he'll meet Seldon at the university tomorrow all the same.
  • Encyclopedia Galactica: This entry should come with a spoiler warning, since it explains that the Commission of Public Safety used their immense power to maintain the status quo in the Empire. That is, until the trial of Hari Seldon, at which point they began to lose their power.
  • Hm, wonder what's going to happen next.