I've been reading Isaac Asimov's Robot/Empire/Foundation series recently as I hadn't read all of the books Asimov wrote within the series (I've been reading them chronologically starting with The Complete Robot). While searching to ensure that I read them all on this Asimov binge, I was doing a little research about the series on a few different websites. I noticed that some people seem to include two of the Good Doctor's other novels, The End of Eternity and Nemesis. Are they linked to the Foundation Universe? I've never read those two, and I was wondering what the links and/or contradictions are between Asimov's Robot/Empire/Foundation series and those two novels? I'd like to know why people think they are or aren't connected.

  • Off the top of my head, The End of Eternity ties in at least slightly with R. Daneel; as I recall he engineered a bit of the world/tech of EofE, to.. (trying to avoid spoilers) keep things ending up the way that they did. – K-H-W Jan 20 '14 at 22:20
up vote 15 down vote accepted

In Chapter 17 of 'Foundation's Edge', one of the Gaians ("Dom") tells a fable to Trevize and Pelorat. Here's an abridged version:

We have a tale about that — a fable, perhaps. I cannot vouch for its authenticity. In fact, on the face of it, it sounds like fiction. [...] I was about to tell our guests the story of Eternity. [...] the fable states that there were those who could step out of time and examine the endless strands of potential reality. These people were called the Eternals and when they were out of time they were said to be in Eternity. It was their task to choose a Reality that would be most suitable to humanity. They modified endlessly—and the story goes into great detail, for I must tell you that it has been written in the form of an epic of inordinate length. Eventually they found (so it is said) a Universe in which Earth was the only planet in the entire Galaxy on which could be found a complex ecological system, together with the development of an intelligent species capable of working out a high technology. That, they decided, was the situation in which humanity could be most secure. They froze that strand of events as Reality and then ceased operations.

So, Asimov himself implied that the Eternals from 'The End of Eternity' had "created" the universe which contained his Galactic Empire and the subsequent Foundations.

Later (in the real world), in 'Forward the Foundation', Hari Seldon was doing some investigations about mental powers, and he tells Raych:

There is a curious story, about twenty thousand years old and therefore back to the misty origins of hyperspatial travel. It's about a young woman, not much more than Wanda's age, who could communicate with an entire planet that circled a sun called Nemesis.

Again, Asimov himself implied that the events of 'Nemesis' happened in the same universe as the Empire and the Foundations.

That's why so many people think they're connected.

However... there are contradictions between those other two works and the Robots / Empire / Foundation series.

  • It's explicitly stated in 'The End of Eternity' that the extinction of humanity in the far-distant future is caused by their discouragement when they finally reach the stars and discover that the stars are already populated by the many other star-faring species who achieved interstellar travel thousands of centuries before humanity. (The reason for the delay in humanity reaching the stars is the existence of Eternity, which chooses the safe path for humanity - which does not lead to interstellar travel.) However, even after Eternity is destroyed, allowing humans to develop interstellar travel earlier, the other species would still exist. Even if humans get to space thousands of centuries earlier, they should still discover at least some of those other intelligent species - even if they're still planet-bound. However, the Galactic Empire and the subsequent Foundations have never discovered any non-human intelligent species. Ever.

  • When Trevize and Pelorat finally reach Earth's solar system in 'Foundation and Earth', they do not detect a companion star for Sol, such as described in 'Nemesis'.

  • There are no robots in 'Nemesis'. There were robots when humans had not left Earth, and robots accompanied the first Earth colonists (Spacers) to the first interstellar colonies. The expedition to the Nemesis system is supposedly the first time humans have left the solar system, which places it firmly between the time of Earth-bound humans and the time of 50 Spacer worlds... yet there are no robots in 'Nemesis'.

  • 1
    Never found any non-human intelligent species except for that one time in Blind Alley. Don't forget Blind Alley. As for the companion star, didn't Nemesis have a really large speed relative to the Sun, so it would have moved far away by the time of Foundation and Earth? – b_jonas Jan 27 '14 at 9:23
  • Ah, yes, 'Blind Alley'. I do remember the story (it's quite fun!), but I always forget it's set in the Trantorian Empire. Although that is only one species when 'The End of Eternity' mentions many more. Anyway, here's a quote from it: "By the time we organize a pursuit, they'll be out of the Galaxy and halfway to the Magellanic Clouds." So, it's only one species and they leave anyway. But, you're right - it is one more than no species at all. – Algernon_Asimov Jan 27 '14 at 12:08
  • As for Nemesis, it was in orbit around Sol - or, more correctly, "it and the Sun are revolving about a mutual center of gravity very slowly in a period of millions of years." So, no, it hasn't left the vicinity of Sol twenty thousand years later. – Algernon_Asimov Jan 27 '14 at 12:08
  • I haven't read EoE, but your descriptions here seem contradictory. The first one makes it sound like they specifically chose a universe where humans were the only sentient species, and then later you say that they get to the stars and find other species. – DCShannon Apr 27 '17 at 16:49
  • "Ever"? SPOILER: I haven't read them in a while, but I thought the virus was engineered by a species which was wiped out by the robots terraforming machines, which were used to prepare planets in advance ahead of human arrival. The robots had to make us dislike dirt so we wouldn't figure out the existence of the terraformers, but... – Wayne Apr 7 at 14:44

Nemesis can't be made to fit without significant contradictions with the rest of the Robot/Foundation universe.

There's no reason The End of Eternity couldn't fit in with the Foundation universe (or many other fictional universes!), given the events of that novel. The themes of the Robot/Foundation universe towards the end really tie in well to the themes of End of Eternity, especially if you include the Second Foundation Trilogy. In my fanfic sequel I posit them being linked as a potential explanation for certain other events, but there's no real possibility of evidence one way or another.

As for why? Well, Asimov himself references both stories somewhat obliquely as legends within the Foundation universe. There's an off-hand reference to the Eternals in Foundation's Edge, and one to Nemesis in Forward the Foundation. But neither of these really makes much sense as being historical fact within that fictional universe. Even if they existed, there's no way the Eternals would be known to history. And there's no way Nemesis happened as written either. But it's really impressive that Asimov wrote such a large consistent universe, and he liked to tie his stories together after the fact. So sometimes fans take those off-hand comments and interpret them as full-on shared-world connections, even if it defies internal consistency.

  • I'm curious as to what contradictions are being introduced by including Nemesis to the Foundation timeline? – System Down Jan 21 '14 at 16:13
  • 1
    For one, Nemesis doesn't have robots, at all. Robots were plentiful and ubiquitous in Asimov's timeline well before the events of Nemesis would have taken place. Second, the development of hyperdrive is presented completely differently in the Robot stories, as is the development of off-earth colonies. – Stephen Collings Jan 21 '14 at 16:21
  • That's true! Very good points. – System Down Jan 21 '14 at 16:23
  • 2
    That makes sense. And as I recall, the spacer worlds especially were full of robots. So Nemesis is a far stretch whereas End of Eternity is easier to place in the timeline (or out of the timeline really)? – Ozymandias Jan 21 '14 at 22:34
  • "Because it's really impressive that Asimov wrote such a large consistent universe, and he liked to tie his stories together after the fact. So sometimes fans do it for him." This isn't the answer at all. Asimov himself wrote references to 'The End of Eternity' and 'Nemesis' into 'Foundation's Edge' and 'Forward the Foundation' respectively. – Algernon_Asimov Jan 26 '14 at 13:49

The Wikipedia article on Nemesis has this to say:

In the foreword of the novel, Asimov stated that Nemesis is not a part of the millieu that consists of the Foundation, Robot, or Empire series. He also stated that he may change his mind on the matter as nothing in the story appears to rule out or contradict any of the later stories. Some have suspected that the radiation from the star Nemesis may have been intended to be another possible reason for the radiation on Earth forcing emigration. However, Nemesis is referred to in Forward the Foundation, where Hari Seldon refers to a twenty-thousand-year-old story of "a young woman that could communicate with an entire planet that circled a sun named Nemesis."

... which is either an amazing coincidence or a direct reference to events in the novel.

  • I saw that section on Wikipedia, and that was one of the reason's I thought I'd ask here. Because of Seldon's reference in Forward, would that contradict Asimov's statement? Or just Seldon describing a similar event? Are there other possible reasons why Nemesis (and End of Eternity) COULD be part of the R/E/F Series? – Ozymandias Jan 20 '14 at 23:15
  • 1
    Seldon does refer to it the story, but in the Foundation universe that is just a legend and very likely untrue. I for one believe Daneel might have specifically spread a version of End of Eternity as a legend to cover his own machinations. – b_jonas Jan 20 '14 at 23:46
  • @b_jonas Daneel is also the stuff of legends by the time of Hari Seldon. Yet Daneel is very much real. – System Down Jan 21 '14 at 16:13

My guess about 'Nemesis' was that it's a half-remembered Settler myth that conveniently removes all robots and spacers from the mix and is a myth for the invention of the hyperdrive. Note that there is no evidence for this conclusion aside from the fact that the events in Nemesis totally contradict events in the Robot Series - but only in such a way as to remove Spacers/Robots.

Note that in Nemesis there are numerous 'colonies' in the Solar System who are more powerful/technologically advanced than, look down upon, and economically oppress earth. This is very similar to the Space/Earth Relationship.

So, like most myths, it has some thematic elements of truth to it, but in this case it removes all those pesky spacers and robots that the Settlers (and more importantly Daneel) want to forget.

One would think that in the Foundation Era myths about how hyperspace travel was invented are probably as common as flood myths are to us, each with similar themes that vaguely echo an actual historical event - and Nemesis is just one of them. Though you'd think that such a thing would be mentioned.

At any rate reading the book with the belief that it's a totally rewritten version of history/myth makes the obvious similarities to the Robot series far more interesting in my opinion.

As for End of Eternity I have no idea. It's technically possible that EoE could have occurred in Asimov's Future history or any universe which is a history of our own, because EoE set up our history. The problem is how anybody would know about it - or even get enough information to form the basis of a 'myth' like my hypothesized Nemesis story.

At the conclusion of 'End of Eternity' the whole Eternity thing was made to never happen . I doubt the two main characters who survived it would have gone around spreading the word about a future that didn't exist due to their efforts.

My only conclusions are that 1) it's a coincidence that there is a myth about Eternity, and it happens to relate to one that we know out of universe as a separate Asimov Story. or 2) It's an Easter-Egg. Note that in the forward Asimov doesn't directly say that EoE took place in this universe, he only points to that story to indicate that he wrote a similar book about that subject.

It's maybe important to note that authors reuse ideas all the bloody time, nothing wrong with that. Perhaps he just made the point in the forward for any reader who thinks the whole Eternity thing is an awesome idea and might want to read a whole book about it.

TLDR?

Nemesis: Settler myth/history about the invention of the hyperdrive that bears a uncanny but de-robotized version of early human history.

End of Eternity: Coincidence? Drugs? Plug for other book? Asimov is the King, he can reuse whatever he wants.

  • And no, I have no sources and I'm not going to go digging through my box of books to type any, lol. But I think that this is all fairly logical speculation. – BubbleRobble Oct 7 '14 at 18:20

There ARE robots in Nemesis, but just barely. There are several references: we're told that the settler worlds have robots, but usually keep them unobtrusively out of sight; we're told that nonhumanoid robots were working on the hyperdrive; and we're told that the first hyperdrive test was conducted by a robot out ion the asteroids. The latter seems like an attempt to reconcile Nemesis's account of the development of hyperdrive with the account in the trilogy of robot stories "Little Lost Robot", "Risk", and "Escape" though they're still not quite consistent.

  • Does the existence of roots suggest they're in the same universe? – Edlothiad Apr 27 '17 at 2:05

Your Answer

 
discard

By clicking "Post Your Answer", you acknowledge that you have read our updated terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy, and that your continued use of the website is subject to these policies.

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