Isaac Asimov on visiting Trantor

At last count, Isaac Asimov had written 322 books. Best known as a writer of science fiction, he is also a historian and biochemist who writes science nonfiction for laymen. His nonfiction books include ``Isaac Asimov's Guide to The Bible,'' ``Asimov's Guide to Shakespeare,'' and ``Asimov's Guide to Science.'' We excerpt from ``Foundation'' (1951), the first book of a trilogy voted all-time best series by the World Science Fiction Convention. TRANTOR - ...At the beginning of the thirteenth millenium, this tendency reached its climax. As the center of the Imperial Government for unbroken hundreds of generations and located, as it was, in the central regions of the Galaxy among the most densely populated and industrially advanced worlds of the system, it could scarcely help being the densest and richest clot of humanity the Race had ever seen.

Its urbanization, progressing steadily, had finally reached the ultimate. All the land surface of Trantor, 75,000,000 square miles in extent, was a single city. The population, at its height, was well in excess of forty billions. This enormous population was devoted almost entirely to the administrative necessities of Empire, and found themselves all too few for the complications of the task. (It is to be remembered that the impossibility of proper administration of the Galactic Empire under the unin-spired leadership of the later Emperors was a considerable factor in the Fall.) Daily, fleets of ships in the tens of thousands brought the produce of twenty agricultural worlds to the dinner tables of Trantor....

Its dependence upon the outer worlds for food and, indeed, for all necessities of life, made Trantor increasingly vulnerable to conquest by siege. In the last millennium of the Empire, the monotonously numerous revolts made Emperor after Emperor conscious of this, and Imperial policy became little more than the protection of Trantor's delicate jugular vein.... Encyclopedia Galactica

Gaal was not certain whether the sun shone, or, for that matter, whether it was day or night. He was ashamed to ask. All the planet seemed to live beneath metal. The meal of which he had just partaken had been labelled luncheon, but there were many planets which lived a standard timescale that took no account of the perhaps inconvenient alternation of day and night. The rate of planetary turnings differed, and he did not know that of Trantor.

From the book ``Foundation,'' by Isaac Asimov, copyright 1951 by Isaac Asimov, published by Doubleday & Co., Inc.

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