Study Guide

Foundation Part III, Chapter 2

By Isaac Asimov

Part III, Chapter 2

  • The chapter starts with one of Hardin's epigrams: "It pays to be obvious, especially if you have a reputation for subtlety" (III.2.2).
  • Let's just make this a rule: if you see one of Hardin's epigrams floating around, pay attention because it'll be important.
  • Okay, switching gears: Ambassador Poly Verisof arrives on Terminus. We learn that he's the high priest of Anacreon to everybody except the King of Anacreon, who considers him an ambassador to a power he "at once fear[s] and covet[s]" (III.2.5).
  • He meets with Hardin, and the two discuss his trip. Verisof recounts a story of a man who spoke of the miracle of radioactive synthesis—what he called Holy Food—to cure cancer. It's just another example of how science-as-religion has taken hold of the Periphery.
  • Hardin then switches the already switched gears to discuss the situation on Anacreon. Verisof admits that said situation is pretty bad.
  • So, there's this guy named Prince Regent Wienis…actually, why don't we give you a moment to chuckle at the name.
  • You good? All right, moving on.
  • Wienis is the uncle to Anacreon's king, Lepold I. He has a violent temperament and isn't one for subtlety. As Verisof puts it, "[h]is notion of cracking an egg is to shoot a nuclear blast at it" (III.2.30).
  • And it seems this guy is frothing at the mouth to attack the Foundation.
  • It gets worse. His current navy is strong enough to do it, especially now that he's found an old Imperial battle cruiser.
  • Hardin had asked Wienis to turn the cruiser over for study, but hasn't received an answer yet.
  • Oppressive want-to-be dictators really are awful about answering their mail.
  • Verisof says that Wienis won't ever answer. He's trying to get Terminus stuck in a bit of a dilemma. If they refuse to fix the ship, Wienis will see it as an act of war. If they fix the ship, he'll just attack anyway.
  • Verisof says the battle cruiser alone could destroy Terminus, but Hardin says the idea is superficial. Even without the battle cruiser, Wienis's armada could easy whoop the Foundation. Wait, that's the bright side?
  • Verisof switches the gears that were already switched before when the switch…um, anyway, he changes the subject again.
  • He shows Hardin the newspaper and asks just how strong this political opposition (read: Sermak's party) is.
  • They're pretty strong, so Verisof suggests forcing the issue with Anacreon now.
  • Force the issue? It's not really Hardin's style.
  • Another change of subject, ugh. Onto Seldon's Plan. Verisof questions whether or not Seldon could truly have predicted a thousand years of future history.
  • Hardin, having been in the Time Vault, believes he did. As such, he will wait until his "freedom of action [becomes] circumscribed to the point where only one course of action [is] possible" (III.2.68).
  • In short, he's going to let things play out.
  • Hardin is a little worried though. With so many people aware of Seldon's plan, is it possible their foreknowledge will prevent the plan from coming to fruition? After all, Seldon didn't put any psychologists on Terminus, so he clearly wanted the Foundation to be blind to his planning.
  • But there is one thing Hardin is going to do. He's going to make sure he is on Anacreon when the crisis happens.