Innumerable as the Starrs of Night,
Or Starrs of Morning,
Dew-drops, which the Sun
on every leaf and every flouer
NGC3132 ©
Beauty is truth, truth beauty,
— that is all
Ye know on earth, and all
ye need to know.

E = M

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Impearls: 2006-07-02 Archive

Earthdate 2006-07-04

Isaac Asimov’s Fourth of July

Many people having a nodding acquaintance with the science fiction genre are aware of the late (14 years ago this last April 6) science fiction author Isaac Asimov’s science fiction “trilogy” (it’s actually now many more books than that) called the “Foundation” series, about a far future when a Galactic Empire — a single State encompassing all the stars in this our Milky Way Galaxy — is coming to its historical end, while another scientific-rationalistic society, known as the Foundation, arises on its ashes.  What I believe most such persons probably aren’t aware of, however, is that the very first story (in my judgment, though others disagree) in that series — the prelude one might say, telling the tale as folks are first expanding through space, founding human world after world (which on an interstellar stage thereafter largely recapitulate Earth’s tyrannical historical past) — deals with the influence of America on that far future.

Asimov’s novel The Stars, Like Dust (1951) comes to an end like this: 1

“But, Director, there are factors you may not be aware of.  There is the matter of the document ——”

“For which your father was searching?”


“Your father, my boy, did not know all there was to know.  It is not safe to have anyone in possession of all the facts.  The old Rancher discovered the existence of the document independently in the references to it in my library.  I’ll give him credit.  He recognized its significance.  But if he had consulted me, I would have told him it was no longer on Earth.”

“That’s exactly it, sir.  I am certain the Tyranni have it.”

“But of course not.  I have it.  I’ve had it for twenty years.  It was what started the rebellion world, for it was only when I had it that I knew we could hold our winnings once we had won.”

“It is a weapon, then?”

“It is the strongest weapon in the universe.  It will destroy the Tyranni and us alike, but will save the Nebular Kingdoms.  Without it, we could perhaps defeat the Tyranni, but we would only have exchanged one feudal despotism for another, and as the Tyranni are plotted against, we would be plotted against.  We and they must both be delivered into the ashcan of outmoded political systems.  The time for maturity has come as it once came on the planet Earth, and there will be a new kind of government, a kind that has never yet been tried in the Galaxy.  There will be no Khans, no Autarchs, Directors, or Ranchers.”

“In the name of Space,” roared Rizzett suddenly, “what will there be?”


“People?  How can they govern?  There must be some one person to make decisions.”

“There is a way.  The blueprint I have, dealt with a small section of one planet, but it can be adapted to all the Galaxy.”

The Director smiled.  “Come, children, I may as well marry you.  It can do little more harm now.”

Biron’s hand tightly enclosed Artemisia’s and she was smiling at him.  They felt the queer inward twinge as the Remorseless made its single pre-calculated Jump.  Biron said, “Before you start, sir, will you tell me something about the blueprint you mention, so that my curiosity will be satisfied and I can keep my mind on Arta?”

Artemisia laughed and said, “You had better do it, Father.  I couldn’t bear an abstracted groom.”

Hinrik smiled.  “I know the document by heart.  Listen.”

And with Rhodia’s sun bright on the visiplate, Hinrik began with those words that were older — far older — than any of the planets in the Galaxy save one:

“ ‘We, the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquillity, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America….’ ”


1 Isaac Asimov, The Stars, Like Dust, Doubleday & Company, Inc., Garden City, New York, 1951, pp. 217-218.  See available editions here.


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