Study Guide

Foundation Part IV, Chapter 5

By Isaac Asimov

Part IV, Chapter 5

  • A week later, Pherl invites Ponyets for a little chitchat.
  • Pherl accuses Ponyets of a clumsy demonstration. Clumsy? Sure. Why didn't Ponyets just make the gold on the ship and offer it without the stink of detested technology?
  • Pherl smells thing rotten in the planet of Askone. Seems all Ponyets wanted was Pherl's attention. Well, he's got it; now what?
  • First, Ponyets tells us a bit about Pherl that Pherl already knows. Why? Well, we don't know the information, and we've got to get it from somewhere.
  • The councilman is a young member of the council and his family is young too, meaning it wasn't one of Askone's original Five families. So being young and not one of the Five means Pherl probably has many political enemies.
  • Pherl totally sees where this is going: Ponyets gives him the machine to gain power over his political rivals, blah blah blah. He's heard this story before. Blah, blah, blah.
  • But even if he wanted to trade technology, he doesn't want to deal with the baggage of the Foundation religion—i.e., he doesn't want the mob to rise up against him in support of the Foundation. Blah x 4.
  • No, no, Ponyets insists. He's just offering the transmuting machine, nothing more. Pherl can amass gold in secret and use it to gain power over his political rivals.
  • It's settled. Pherl will have the machine and pay Ponyets a bunch of wrought iron (remember, Terminus is notoriously poor in metals).
  • In return, Pherl will arrange payment in one week's time, just in case Ponyets rigged the machine to junk out once he's a safe distance away.
  • Done and done.