The Foundation Series is a series of books created by Isaac Asimov. Originally published in the Astounding Magazine as eight separate stories between 1942 and 1950, later they were published as three books (with a ninth story included); Foundation, Foundation and Empire, and Second Foundation. Later in his life, Asimov wrote several books in the series, tying them to other books he wrote earlier.
The books have influenced numerous later works of science fiction, like the Star Wars movies and the Battletech tabletop game.
The Galactic Empire is dying. A single mathematician, Hari Seldon, who developed the science of psychohistory (a mathematical prediction of the future) realizes that, as well as the fact that a Second Empire won't rise for 30,000 years. He establishes two Foundations in order to reduce the interregnum to 1,000 years.
First Galactic Empire
The First Galactic Empire spanned the entire Milky Way Galaxy for 12,000 years. At its height, it was composed of 25,000,000 worlds, all ruled from the its capital, the ecumenopolis Trantor. The most often used figure for Trantor's population is a ridiculuosly low 40 billion, although the Second Foundation gives the figure of 400 billion administrators, making the population likely to be a slightly more acceptable trillion. It was fed by 20 agricultural worlds.
50 years after the establishing of the Foundations, the Empire withdrew from the galactic Periphery, concentrating in the inner parts of the Galaxy, with the abandoned territories splitting into separate kingdoms. 140 years later, it only controlled the inner third, but that included 75% of the galactic population and resources.
In the final centuries of its existence, the Empire saw endless rebellions and civil wars. Only 10% of the emperors died a natural death.
At least one general intended to flee to the Periphery with his fleet and establish his own Empire there. He was assassinated, but it's possible that other generals did manage to carry out similar plans.
A century later, Trantor was attacked by a rebel and razed. The Emperor and his family fled to the nearby family of Delicass, which they renamed Neotrantor. The last dynasty ruled over that planet (and the 20 worlds formerly feeding Trantor) for a century afterwards.
- A single Imperial battlecruiser was two miles long. One such ship was adrift in space for three hundred years, presumably after a fight, and was quite repairable. It was stated to be capable of "blowing up a planet". However, this was a statement between two politicians, one of them trying to make a point, and as such, is hardly useful; no description of bombardment ever described results beyond "ruins" or "rubble". A ruler of twenty five star systems (on territories abandoned by the Empire) possessing that battlecruiser believed himself invincible so far as his neighbors were concerned. This is reminiscent of the description of a Star Destroyer's effect on a planetary civilization.
- The Empire had ship shields, theatre shields, as well as planetary shields, but no personal shields.
- Bel Riose, a Military Governor of a system had at his disposal ten ships of the line (presumably larger that a battlecruiser) with a full complement of auxiliary vessels (the system was central in a province of 25 first rate planets, but not in a sector, meaning it was less that a sector force). Three of the ships had parts salvaged from the old Imperial fleet, the rest were new, and, reputedly, of lower quality. Indeed, two ships had power generation problems before fighting started, and Riose had no people capable of repairing them (a shortage complained about for over a century by then).
- Reliable navigational computers didn't appear until over 50 years after the Empire's fall. As such, ships depended on known hyperspace routes, making blockade and enclosure effective even on interstellar scale.
- Imperial hand weapons were capable of reducing a man into "a blasted ruin". The prequels have shown a model capable of killing a person without producing any visible damage nor noise, as well as a model capable of phaser like vaporization of a person's internal parts.
- A man stated that former Imperial civilian starships detected him at two parsec distance.
The First Foundation (commonly known simply as Foundation) was established on the remote, poor in resources world of Terminus on the very edge of the Galaxy. For the first fifty years, it existed as a part of the Emperor's personal holdings, dealing with the preparation of Encyclopedia Galactica, with the head scientists being in charge. In the end of the fifth decade, a municipal government was established (due to a large number of people not working on the Encyclopedia). Two years later, on the fiftieth anniversary of the Foundation's establishment, the first Mayor, Salvor Hardin, seized power from the scientists. The Empire, by that time, has withdrawn completely from the Periphery.
That exact day, a prerecorded message by Hari Seldon explained the Foundation's true purpose. He stated that the Foundations are the seeds from which the Second Empire will grow. Along the way, he said, the First Foundation will encounter several crises, each of them forcing it along the one correct path.
After the coup, the Foundation adopted a policy of giving technological aid to the surrounding Four Kingdoms (who lost much of their technological knowledge). Since the technology was viewed as a form of sorcery, a religion was established around the technology, with Foundation as the center, and Foundation educated priests/engineers overseeing the devices.
In year 80 of the Foundation, Anacreon (the strongest of the Kingdoms) attempted to conquer the Foundation, using a recently found Imperial battlecruiser. However, a revolt by the priests, backed up by nearly all the population, made an attack impossible. After that attempt, the Foundation found itself the de facto ruler of the Four Kingdoms.
Due to the spreading rumors of the secular rulers losing their power to the Foundation's church, few other states accepted the religion.
By year 150, a new power started rising - the Traders. The leader of the Church attempted to seize power using his influence in the Kingdoms, but failed. In addition, another state, the Republic of Korell, announced war on the Foundation, while being backed up by an Imperial general. However, Korell still wasn't strong enough for a direct assault on Terminus, and because of the extensive trade between the state, the adopted tactic of blockade affected it far worse than the Foundation. After three years of stalemate, Korell surrendered unconditionally.
In year 195, later, Bel Riose, a genius Imperial general, attempted to conquer the Foundation. However, Cleon II, the last of the Empire's strong emperors, saw his rising popularity as a threat and had him arrested and executed before the campaign could be finished.
In 310, the Foundation was conquered by the Mule, a mutant with powerful telepathic abilities. He established the Union of Worlds, comprising one tenth of the Galaxy, with the capital on the resort world of Kalgan. After his death, the Union collapsed, although a sizable chunk, still ruled by Kalgan, remained until 40 years later, when it attempted to conquer the Foundation. That was the last important battle of the Interregnum.
By the end of the fifth century, the Foundation controlled one third of the Galaxy, influencing the rest. There was an attempt to transfer the capital from Terminus to another, less remote world, but it wasn't carried out.
During the first eighty years of its existence, Terminus had no military to speak of. At the end of that period, it took control of the four kingdoms closest to it, their armed forces including an Imperial battlecruiser.
By year 80, the Foundation has developed a personal energy shield.
At the beginning of the war with Korell, its leader had in its disposal five Imperial capital ships. While each of the ships was stated to be capable of reducing Foundation into rubble, he believed a direct assault on Terminus impossible even with a dozen ships.
During the war with the Empire, the Foundation resisted for over a year. It lost half a million men and five hundred ships. A personal energy shield was standard equipment for every Foundation soldier. It was stated that a single Free Trader ship was capable of resisting the full firepower of an Imperial light cruiser. At the end of the war, the imperial province of Sivenna revolted and joined the Foundation, bringing with it at least five captured Imperial ships of the line.
During the war with the Mule, the Independent Traders, a splinter group of the Foundation, was capable of fielding a thousand ships.
At the same time, a blaster disguised as a film projector was stated to be at gigawatt range. It was easy enough to make a bomb capable of blowing up a large governmental building, yet small enough to be carried under one's tongue.
A fleet of unspecified size bombarded a single planet into ruins. An attempt was made to decentralize the people to reduce the effect, although it was done by relatively technologically inept people, and it is unknown whether this could have had any effect.
The final battle between Kalgan and Foundation included 300 ships of the first side, and 75 from the other. A group of 50 more Foundation ships was able to jump into a precisely calculated spot in the enemy's rear.
In the end of the fifth century, the Foundation used ships with gravitic engines (giving them superior acceleration) and direct neural interface. Due to improved computers, the ships were capable of crossing the entire Galaxy within hours, although jumps within systems were not recommended, and long sublight travel to get away from or into a star's gravity field was still normal. It was stated that a single squadron of such ships was more than a match for the entire navy of the First Galactic Empire.
In the second and third century, a typical Foundation blaster was capable of blasting through a solid metal wall. Another model was shown, a microwave gun, capable of blowing up a person. In addition, neuronic whips were used. They are weapons capable of causing permanent disability or death on maximum settings, but normally known for causing extremely intense pain, often used by police for crowd control.
The Second Foundation was established by Seldon in order to watch over the Plan, guarding it against possible deviations, and, once the Second Empire is established, to take the role of its benevolent dictators.
They were trained in the science of psychohistory, as well as mental abilities, allowing them control over other people's emotions. After the Mule took over the Foundation, they managed, within a few years, to neutralize him. However, this action revealed them to the First Foundation. As a result, a second plan was concocted, which convinced the First Foundation that they destroyed the Second one.
The Second Foundation had little in the way of military might, mainly relying on its ability to control the minds of people, to predict the future, and the secrecy of its location (and even existence), much like the Sith Order since Darth Bane.