Trevize and Fallom - An Etymological Interpretation of the End of Asimov's Foundation Series

The ending of the Asimov’s Foundation series in “ Foundation and Earth “ (abbr. as”F&E” in following) is really a anticlimax. Asimov have lost his standard in his most important, even the most important science fiction epic in history.

It’s weird that Asimov, a world-famous, half-century-experienced, genius writer have made such a mistake. As we have known that Asimov do not have any plan in mind when he was writing the Foundation series. These work have been written from 1951 ~ 1992.

During such a long time, it is reasonable to doubt that there are some event which deeply influenced author that he started to doubt some basic principles in Foundation series such as “Psychohistory”.<span class=”hint–top-right hint–error hint–large” aria-label=”Actually, in “Foundation’s Edge” and “F&E”, Asimov have already expressed doubt on “Psychohistory”.”>[1]

The Official Interpretation

Firstly, let’s see the official interpretation. The following is the answer of What is the significance of the ending of Foundation and Earth? in Asimov’s official site.

Foundation and Earth ends with a “hook” for a sequel – the main problem of the novel itself has been solved, but a new problem is introduced in the last few pages which threatens the future of mankind.

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Asimov fully intended to write a sequel to Foundation and Earth, continuing the story chronologically. He had, however, no specific plans for how he would develop the problem with which Foundation and Earth ends, let alone how to resolve it. His next (and final) two Foundation books were stories of the life of Hari Seldon, written largely because he couldn’t figure out what would happen after Foundation and Earth.

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He died before he had any specific plans for what would happen next.

What happens in 1985 ~ 1986

According to Asimov’s Chronological table. “F&E” is published in 1986, directly after “Robots and Empire” in 1985. Major news event in that time have must influenced Asimov, especially which relate to Soviet-US relationship and human space exploration due to his own background.

  • Jan 21st 1985 – President Ronald Reagan is elected for a second term of 40th President of the US

  • Mar 11th 1985 - Mikhail Gorbachev become General Secretary of the Soviet Communist Party and de facto leader of the Soviet Union

  • Nov 19th 1985 - U.S. President Ronald Reagan and Soviet Union leader Mikhail Gorbachev meet for the first time in Geneva

  • Jan 24th 1986 – The Voyager 2 space probe make its first encounter with Uranus

  • Jan 28th 1986 – Space Shuttle Challenger disintegrate 73 seconds after launch, killing the crew of 7 astronauts

  • Feb 19th 1986 - The “Mir” space station launches which is the first continuously inhabited long-term research station in orbit

  • Feb 25th 1986 - Mikhail Gorbachev introduces the keywords of his mandate “Glasnost” and “Perestroika” in the 27th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union

  • Apr 26th 1986 – Chernobyl disaster killed at least 4056 people and damaged almost $7 billion of property. Radioactive fallout from the accident is concentrated near Belarus, Ukraine and Russia and at least 350,000 people are forcibly resettled away from these areas.

  • Oct 11th 1986 – Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev meet in Reykjavík, Iceland, to continue discussions about scaling back their intermediate missile arsenals in Europe, which end in failure.

Mutation from Radioactivity

During 1985 ~ 1986, nuclear have became a very serious problem in the earth [2], from Cuban nuclear crisis Chernobyl, Homo sapiens may be extinct firstly in history. Asimov himself also anxious a lot about it. He have warned many time in the “Foundation’s Edge” and “F&E” if things are still going on like that the earth will become “radioactivity” and become a myth in the galaxy

Let’s think more carefully about “Psychohistory”. It’s essentially the final form of Communism’s “Central Planned Economy” - “Preset Central Planned Civilization”. Even Soviet have launched “Mir” Space Station, the whole Soviet’s economy already cannot hold it up anymore at that time thus Gorbachev’s reform have started. In “F&E”, Asimov’s ideal future of mankind have changed from Soviet-like Second Foundation to Swiss-like Gaia.

The “Real” Ending

The following is the ending of “F&E”. Since “F&E” is the last book of Foundation series, it is also the ending of the whole series.

… And he did not look down to meet the brooding eyes of Fallom - hermaphroditic, transductive, different - as they rested, unfathomably, on him.

However, it is not even like an ending of a novel. The story is still going on.

What is the “real” ending of Foundation series. The name of heroes’ name have already given us clue - a etymological clue.

Trevize = Trivial

Fallom = Fall + Boom

No matter how Asimov emphasise how critical Trevize’s decision is - it is still a trivial decision. The empire and foundation will fall and boom as history is going on.

As we all knows that the Foundation series is a tribute to Edward Gibbon’s “The Decline and Fall of Roman Empire”. We may regard the Foundation series as “The Rise and Fall of Galaxy Empire”. The human beings, will unit, expand, separate, re-unit, from one continent to one planet, from one planet to one galaxy, repeat.


  1. 1.Actually, in "Foundation’s Edge" and "F&E", Asimov have already expressed doubt on "Psychohistory".
  2. 2.The bad news is that today it is still a very serious problem …… such as DPRK.