I'm currently on the third Foundation book ("Second Foundation") by Isaac Asimov, and I'm beginning to wonder when does this series take place. I know 1FE is 12069GE, but what would that be in AD/CE? Is there any indication as to when the series takes place?

This Amazon review claims it is "allegedly 50,000 years" in the future. Is there any basis for this or would stating the year be pure speculation?

  • I guess that the 50,000 years idea comes from the early Asimov Timeline that appeared in Thrilling Wonder Stories, Winter 1955, pp. 62-63. Where the Second Galactic Empire is established in 48,000. Mar 30, 2016 at 0:20

4 Answers 4


It's more like 25,000. Have a look at this handy timeline. The high points are that the Robots universe and the Foundation universe are one and the same. Additionally, there are 3 different eras that passed. The early US robotics stories basically take place in what is now modern day and the rest of the timeline is built from there. Please note that some of these dates may be off on the era transitions, since those are the hardest to pin down. Also, spoilers are scattered throughout.

  • 1
    Sweet, I won't read too much into it as I'm likely to read the robot books after this and don't want to spoil anything, but according to this 1FE is the same as 24567AD/CE.
    – Jeff
    Feb 15, 2013 at 22:54
  • @jeff I rounded it off because the change from AD to GE is somewhere in a five century span and this timeline sticks it at the earliest moment. Feb 16, 2013 at 2:07
  • 4
    I'm sure Asimov didn't have any great plan in mind when he started writing, but the nerd in me loves the way that his novels have been gradually tied together, even though I suspect some of the connections are due more to fans' enthiusiasm than Asimov's intent. Feb 16, 2013 at 8:45
  • @JohnRennie Hari Seldon had a great plan in mind, so why not Asimov himself?
    – Mr Lister
    Feb 16, 2013 at 15:36
  • 1
    @MrLister he wrote himself in one edition (don't have my library with me here) how he had over time developed the idea to link all his work together, and provided a timeline complete with holes where there was room for another novel to bridge gaps.
    – jwenting
    Feb 18, 2013 at 11:46

According to Johnny Pez's Insanely Complete Fiction List hosted on my site, with permission, Second Foundation started at 316 FE / 12384 GE / 23968 AD. I'm not sure why Johnny and Attila (link posted by sarge_smith) determined different dates. The advantage to Johnny's list is that he lists all the plot points he used at the bottom of the timeline, so there is really no danger of major spoilers. Also, Johnny's list includes all of the expanded universe (Robot City, Robots & Aliens, Caliban, etc) authorized by Asimov and written by other authors shortly before his death.

Asimov states clearly in one of his introductions that he did not originally plan for the Robot & Foundation Universes to be together. I was looking for the reference, but was unable to find it. This Wikipedia article suggests the universes were tied together in Foundation's Edge.

I'd like to note that that the bottom of the repost of Attila's list is the mention of a book called "Psychohistorical Crisis" which does not fit into the Robot & Foundation canon. The book appears to have some good reviews, so I might check it out sometime.


Long ago in the mid or late 70s there was a Terminus in 23,309 Worldcon (Galacticon?) bid announced with an opposing bid from Trantor. I'm not sure exactly how the date was arrived at, but I suspect that Asimov was consulted. If not, dates like that were certainly part of the common lore of fandom at the time.


It probably comes from Pebble In the Sky, where Schwartz' English is described as a prehistoric language found "in fifty thousand year old strata" on worlds in the Sirius Sector.

However I'm not so sure if the later books are consistent on this, as PitS also speaks of two hundred million planets" in the GE, whereas in Foundation there are only twenty million. They might disagree about the calendar also.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.