This article is from the Isaac Asimov FAQ, by Edward J. Seiler email@example.com and John H. Jenkins firstname.lastname@example.org with numerous contributions by others.
Asimov's original intention was to write a series of longer stories to
complement the series of short stories he was writing about robots. He
started the Foundation series as a saga of the collapse of the First
Galactic Empire and rise of the Second, using Edward Gibbon's Decline and
Fall of the Roman Empire as a model.
It wasn't long before he got bored with the series. Since the
Foundation's ultimate success was guaranteed by psychohistory, there was a
considerable lack of dramatic tension, and it was hard keeping the stories
from contradicting each other. He therefore wrote "Now You See It--" as a
way to end the series, but John Campbell, the editor of *Astounding*,
would have none of it and insisted that Asimov alter the ending so that
the series could continue. By the time he wrote the next Foundation
story, "--And Now You Don't," Asimov had come to hate the series so much
that Campbell didn't even attempt to convince him to continue.
(Ironically, "--And Now You Don't" is among the strongest stories in the
Over the course of the writing of the original Foundation stories, the
focus shifted slightly. The "tiny bit of cribbin' from the works of
Edward Gibbon" faded into the background. Mentalics were introduced at
Campbell's insistence as a means of throwing a monkey wrench into the Plan
with "The Mule" -- superhumans with psychic powers were a favorite theme
of Campbell's. The existence of the Second Foundation had been a part of
the series from the beginning, as was its location at "Star's End," but
its exact nature wasn't clearly defined until it acquired its role as the
With these last two stories written, he considered himself forever
finished with the Foundation series, even though there were still over 500
years of the Plan to run. They would simply be century upon century of
the Foundation's growth and triumph under the direction of the Second
Foundation, and really rather dull. Asimov did write one more Foundation
story to open Foundation and nothing more for over thirty years.
In the 1980s, Asimov was persuaded by Doubleday to write a new Foundation
book. The result was Foundation's Edge . Again, he decided to create a
more interesting story by making up a new threat to the Seldon Plan.
Foundation's Edge was so successful that Asimov was persuaded to finally
write the third Elijah Baley novel, The Robots of Dawn , which created
the first (implicit) connection between the Foundation and Robot books.
This connection, which was not anticipated when Asimov started writing
robot and Foundation stories in the 1940s, was finally made explicit in
the next two books written, Robots and Empire and
Foundation and Earth .
Finally, because he wasn't sure what to do next, Asimov wrote
Prelude to Foundation and Forward the Foundation to tell the story of
Hari Seldon's life and the beginnings of psychohistory.