So, at the beginning of Prelude to Foundation, Hari meets "Chetter Hummin". He goes traipsing around Trantor with him; meeting Dors, going to the library, working for a while, going to mycogen, getting captured at mycogen, going to the slums of trantor and adopting a son, and then finally meeting the daughter of the mayor of Wye.

Only then, after months to years of being on the planet, does he get tipped off that Chetter is Eto Demerzel, the second most powerful man in the galaxy.

Did he never see a picture of Eto? The news back home never had his face in the holobroadcasts? No poster ever displayed his face?

2 Answers 2


Eto Demerzel

(one of the alter egos of R. Daneel Olivaw)

the first minister of Cleon I, was more like a power behind the emperor, preferring to stay in the background. It wasnt his style to appear in the galactic news. Harry Sheldon, a provincial, never even heard the name until after he arrived to Trantor and Hummin

(another alter ego of Daneel)

mentioned him:

Seldon said stiffly, "I don't intend to discuss the matter." Hummin shrugged slightly. "Eto Demerzel was there, I suppose. " "Who?" "You've never heard of Eto Demerzel?" "Never. " (Prelude to Foundation, ch5)

  • Emperors are jealous of their power as well. It would be a very confident Emperor to allow the public to know that one person was influencing him to any great degree - and in general any person who publicly claimed great influence (true or not) might soon find himself without a head.
    – Andrew
    Commented Sep 23, 2022 at 0:04

To put a different spin on this, how many Americans would recognize Denis McDonough if they ran into him on the street. He's in approximately the same position in Obama's White House staff. Yet, until I just mentioned him, you hadn't heard that name, let alone have any idea what he looks like.

  • That's a good point.
    – 0xDBFB7
    Commented Jul 24, 2016 at 16:22
  • It's analogous (perhaps deliberately on Asimov's part) to how ignorant Gaal Dornick was of the Commission on Public Safety in "The Psychohistorians"; that organization was apparently ruling the Empire in the child Emperor's name, but Dornick was initially dismissive of them (almost if he hadn't heard of them).
    – Andrew
    Commented Mar 2, 2022 at 0:17

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