“WHY DID I do it?” asked Golan Trevize.
It wasn’t a new question. Since he had arrived at Gaia, he had asked it of himself frequently. He would wake up from a sound sleep in the pleasant coolness of the night and find the question sounding noiselessly in his mind, like a tiny drumbeat: Why did I do it? Why did I do it?
Now, though, for the first time, he managed to ask it of Dom, the ancient of Gaia.
Dom was well aware of Trevize’s tension for he could sense the fabric of the Councilman’s mind. He did not respond to it. Gaia must in no way ever touch Trevize’s mind, and the best way of remaining immune to the temptation was to painstakingly ignore what he sensed.
“Do what, Trev?” he asked. He found it difficult to use more than one syllable in addressing a person, and it didn’t matter. Trevize was growing somewhat used to that.
“The decision I made,” said Trevize. “Choosing Gaia as the future.”
“You were right to do so,” said Dom, seated, his aged deep-set eyes looking earnestly up at the man of the Foundation, who was standing.
“You say I am right,” said Trevize impatiently.
“I/we/Gaia know you are. That’s your worth to us. You have the capacity for making the right decision on incomplete data, and you have made the decision. You chose Gaia! You rejected the anarchy of a Galactic Empire built on the technology of the First Foundation, as well as the anarchy of a Galactic Empire built on the mentalics of the Second Foundation. You decided that neither could be long stable. So you chose Gaia.”
“Yes,” said Trevize. “Exactly! I chose Gaia, a superorganism; a whole planet with a mind and personality in common, so that one has to say ‘I/we/ Gaia’ as an invented pronoun to express the inexpressible.” He paced the floor restlessly. “And it will become eventually Galaxia, a super-superorganism embracing all the swarm of the Milky Way.”
He stopped, turned almost savagely on Dom, and said, “I feel I’m right, as you feel it, but you want the coming of Galaxia, and so are satisfied with the Id on. There’s something in me, however, that doesn’t want it, and for that reason I’m not satisfied to accept the rightness so easily. I want to know why I made the decision, I want to weigh and judge the rightness and be satisfied with it. Merely feeling right isn’t enough. How can I know I am right? What be the device that makes me right?”
“I/we/Gaia do not know how it is that you come to the right decision. Is it important to know that as long as we have the decision?”
“You speak for the whole planet, do you? For the common consciousness of every dewdrop, of every pebble, of even the liquid central core of the planet?”
“I do, and so can any portion of the planet in which the intensity of the common consciousness is great enough.”
“And is all this common consciousness satisfied to use me as a black box? Since the black box works, is it unimportant to know what is inside?-That doesn’t suit me. I don’t enjoy being a black box. I want to know what’s inside. I want to know how and why I chose Gaia and Galaxia as the future, so that I can rest and be at peace.”
“But why do you dislike or distrust your decision so?”
Trevize drew a deep breath and said slowly, in a low and forceful voice, “Because I don’t want to be part of a superorganism. I don’t want to be a dispensable part to be done away with whenever the superorganism judges that doing away would be for the good of the whole.”
Dom looked at Trevize thoughtfully. “Do you want to change your decision, then, Trev? You can, you know.”
“I long to change the decision, but I can’t do that merely because I dislike it. To do something now, I have to know whether the decision is wrong or right. It’s not enough merely to feel it’s right.”
“If you feel you are right, you are right.” Always that slow, gentle voice that somehow made Trevize feel wilder by its very contrast with his own inner turmoil.
Then Trevize said, in half a whisper, breaking out of the insoluble oscillation between feeling and knowing, “I must find Earth.”
“Because it has something to do with this passionate need of yours to know?”
“Because it is another problem that troubles me unbearably and because I feel there is a connection between the two. Am I not a black box? I feel there is a connection. Isn’t that enough to make you accept it as a fact?”
“Perhaps,” said Dom, with equanimity.
“Granted it is now thousands of years -twenty thousand perhaps- since the people of the Galaxy have concerned themselves with Earth, how is it possible that we have all forgotten our planet of origin?”
“Twenty thousand years is a longer time than you realize. There are many aspects of the early Empire we know little of; many legends that are almost surely fictitious but that we keep repeating, and even believing, because of lack of anything to substitute. And Earth is older than the Empire.”
“But surely there are some records. My good friend, Pelorat, collects myths and legends of early Earth; anything he can scrape up from any source. It is his profession and, more important, his hobby. Those myths and legends are all there are. There are no actual records, no documents.”
“Documents twenty thousand years old? Things decay, perish, are destroyed through inefficiency or war.”
“But there should be records of the records; copies, copies of the copies, and copies of the copies of the copies; useful material much younger than twenty millennia. They have been removed. The Galactic Library at Trantor must have had documents concerning Earth. Those documents are referred to in known historical records, but the documents no longer exist in the Galactic Library. The references to them may exist, but any quotations from them do not exist.”
“Remember that Trantor was sacked a few centuries ago,”
“The Library was left untouched. It was protected by the personnel of the Second Foundation. And it was those personnel who recently discovered that material related to Earth no longer exists. The material was deliberately removed in recent times. Why?” Trevize ceased his pacing and looked intently at Dom. “If I find Earth, I will find out what it is hiding-”
“Hiding or being hidden. Once I find that out, I have the feeling I will know why I have chosen Gaia and Galaxia over our individuality. Then, I presume, I will know, not feel, that I am correct, and if l am correct” -he lifted his shoulders hopelessly- “then so be it.”
“If you feel that is so,” said Dom, “and if you feel you must hunt for Earth, then, of course, we will help you do as much as we can. That help, however, is limited. For instance, I/we/Gaia do not know where Earth may be located among the immense wilderness of worlds that make up the Galaxy.”
“Even so,” said Trevize, “I must search. -Even if the endless powdering of stars in the Galaxy makes the quest seem hopeless, and even if I must do it alone.
TREVIZE WAS surrounded by the tameness of Gaia. The temperature, as always, was comfortable, and the air moved pleasantly, refreshing but not chilling. Clouds drifted across the sky, interrupting the sunlight now and then, and, no doubt, if the water vapor level per meter of open land surface dropped sufficiently in this place or that, there would be enough rain to restore it.
The trees grew in regular spacings, like an orchard, and did so, no doubt, all over the world. The land and sea were stocked with plant and animal life in proper numbers and in the proper variety to provide an appropriate ecological balance, and all of them, no doubt, increased and decreased in numbers in a slow sway about the recognized optimum. -As did the number of human beings, too.
Of all the objects within the purview of Trevize’s vision, the only wild card in the deck was his ship, the Far Star.
The ship had been cleaned and refurbished efficiently and well by a number of the human components of Gaia. It had been restocked with food and drink, its furnishings had been renewed or replaced, its mechanical workings rechecked. Trevize himself had checked the ship’s computer carefully.
Nor did the ship need refueling, for it was one of the few gravitic ships of the Foundation, running on the energy of the general gravitational field of the Galaxy, and that was enough to supply all the possible fleets of humanity for all the eons of their likely existence without measurable decrease of intensity.
Three months ago, Trevize had been a Councilman of Terminus. He had, in other words, been a member of the Legislature of the Foundation and, ex officio, a great one of the Galaxy. Was it only three months ago? It seemed it was half his thirty-two year old lifetime since that had been his post and his only concern had been whether the great Seldon Plan had been valid or not; whether the smooth rise of the Foundation from planetary village to Galactic greatness had been properly charted in advance, or not.
Yet in some ways, there was no change. He was still a Councilman. His status and his privileges remained unchanged, except that he didn’t expect he would ever return to Terminus to claim that status and those privileges. He would no more fit into the huge chaos of the Foundation than into the small orderliness of Gaia. He was at home nowhere, an orphan everywhere.
His jaw tightened and he pushed his fingers angrily through his black hair. Before he wasted time bemoaning his fate, he must find Earth. If he survived the search, there would then be time enough to sit down and weep. He might have even better reason then.
With determined stolidity, then, he thought back-
Three months before, he and Janov Pelorat, that able, naive scholar, had left Terminus. Pelorat had been driven by his antiquarian enthusiasms to discover the site of long-lost Earth, and Trevize had gone along, using Pelorat’s goal as a cover for what he thought his own real aim was. They did not find Earth, but they did find Gaia, and Trevize had then found himself forced to make his fateful decision.
Now it was he, Trevize, who had turned half-circle-about-face-and was searching for Earth.
As for Pelorat, he, too, had found something he didn’t expect. He had found the black-haired, dark-eyed Bliss, the young woman who was Gaia, even as Dom was and as the nearest grain of sand or blade of grass was. Pelorat, with the peculiar ardor of late middle age, had fallen in love with a woman less than half his years, and the young woman, oddly enough, seemed content with that.
It was odd-but Pelorat was surely happy and Trevize thought resignedly that each person must find happiness in his or her own manner. That was the point of individuality-the individuality that Trevize, by his choice, was abolishing (given time) over all the Galaxy.
The pain returned. That decision he had made, and had had to make, continued to excoriate him at every moment and was -
The voice intruded on Trevize’s thoughts and he looked up in the direction of the sun, blinking his eyes.
“Ah, Janov,” he said heartily-the more heartily because he did not want Pelorat guessing at the sourness of his thoughts. He even managed a jovial, “You’ve managed to tear yourself away from Bliss, I see.”
Pelorat shook his head. The gentle breeze stirred his silky white hair, and his long solemn face retained its length and solemnity in full. “Actually, old chap, it was she that suggested I see you-about-about what I want to discuss. Not that I wouldn’t have wanted to see you on my own, of course, but she seems to think more quickly than I do.”
Trevize smiled. “It’s all right, Janov. You’re here to say good-bye, I take it.
“Well, no, not exactly. In fact, more nearly the reverse. Golan, when we left Terminus, you and I, I was intent on finding Earth. I’ve spent virtually my entire adult life at that task.”
“And I will carry on, Janov. The task is mine now.”
“Yes, but it’s mine, also; mine, still.”
“But-” Trevize lifted an arm in a vague all-inclusive gesture of the world about them.
Pelorat said, in a sudden urgent gasp, “I want to go with you.”
Trevize felt astonished. “You can’t mean that, Janov. You have Gaia now.”
“I’ll come back to Gaia someday, but I cannot let you go alone.”
“Certainly you can. I can take care of myself.”
“No offense, Golan, but you don’t know enough. It is I who know the myths and legends. I can direct you.”
“And you’ll leave Bliss? Come, now.”
A faint pink colored Pelorat’s cheeks. “I don’t exactly want to do that, old chap, but she said-”
Trevize frowned. “Is it that she’s trying to get rid of you, Janov. She promised me-”
“No, you don’t understand. Please listen to me, Golan. You do have this uncomfortable explosive way of jumping to conclusions before you hear one out. It’s your specialty, I know, and I seem to have a certain difficulty in expressing myself concisely, but-”
“Well,” said Trevize gently, “suppose you tell me exactly what it is that Bliss has on her mind in just any way you please, and I promise to be very patient.”
“Thank you, and as long as you’re going to be patient, I think I can come out with it right away. You see, Bliss wants to come, too.”
“Bliss wants to come?” said Trevize. “No, I’m exploding again. I won’t explode. Tell me, Janov, why would Bliss want to come along? I’m asking it quietly.”
“She didn’t say. She said she wants to talk to you.”
“Then why isn’t she here, eh?”
Pelorat said, “I think-I say I think-that she is rather of the opinion that you are not fond of her, Golan, and she rather hesitates to approach you. I have done my best, old man, to assure her that you have nothing against her. I cannot believe anyone would think anything but highly of her. Still, she wanted me to broach the subject with you, so to speak. May I tell her that you’ll be willing to see her, Golan?”
“Of course, I’ll see her right now.”
“And you’ll be reasonable? You see, old man, she’s rather intense about it. She said the matter was vital and she must go with you.”
“She didn’t tell you why, did she?”
“No, but if she thinks she must go, so must Gaia. “
“Which means I mustn’t refuse. Is that right, Janov?”
“Yes, I think you mustn’t, Golan.”
FOR THE FIRST time during his brief stay on Gaia, Trevize entered Bliss’s house which now sheltered Pelorat as well.
Trevize looked about briefly. On Gaia, houses tended to be simple. With the all-but-complete absence of violent weather of any kind, with the temperature mild at all times in this particular latitude, with even the tectonic plates slipping smoothly when they had to slip, there was no point in building houses designed for elaborate protection, or for maintaining a comfortable environment within an uncomfortable one. The whole planet was a house, so to speak, designed to shelter its inhabitants.
Bliss’s house within that planetary house was small, the windows screened ether than glassed, the furniture sparse and gracefully utilitarian. There were holographic images on the walls; one of them of Pelorat looking rather astonished and self-conscious. Trevize’s lips twitched but he tried not to let his amusement show, and he fell to adjusting his waist sash meticulously.
Bliss watched him. She wasn’t smiling in her usual fashion. Rather, she looked serious, her fine dark eyes wide, her hair tumbling to her shoulders in a gentle black wave. Only her full lips, touched with red, lent a bit of color to her face.
“Thank you for coming to see me, Trev.”
“Janov was very urgent in his request, Blissenobiarella.”
Bliss smiled briefly. “Well returned. If you will call me Bliss, a decent monosyllable, I will try to say your name in full, Trevize.” She stumbled, almost unnoticeably, over the second syllable.
Trevize held up his right hand. “That would be a good arrangement. I recognize the Gaian habit of using one-syllable name-portions in the common interchange of thoughts, so if you should happen to call me Trev now and then I will not be offended. Still, I will be more comfortable if you try to say Trevize as often as you can, and I shall say Bliss.”
Trevize studied her, as he always did when he encountered her. As an individual, she was a young woman in her early twenties. As part of Gaia, however, she was thousands of years old. It made no difference in her appearance, but it made a difference in the way she spoke sometimes, and in the atmosphere that inevitably surrounded her. Did he want it this way for everyone who existed? No! Surely, no, and yet-
Bliss said, “I will get to the point. You stressed your desire to find Earth-”
“I spoke to Dom,” said Trevize, determined not to give in to Gaia without a perpetual insistence on his own point of view.
“Yes, but in speaking to Dom, you spoke to Gaia and to every part of it, so that you spoke to me, for instance.”
“Did you hear me as I spoke?”
“No, for I wasn’t listening, but if, thereafter, I paid attention, I could remember what you said. Please accept that and let us go on. You stressed your desire to find Earth and insisted on its importance. I do not see that importance but you have the knack of being right so I/we/Gaia must accept what you say. If the mission is crucial to your decision concerning Gaia, It is of crucial importance to Gaia, and so Gaia must go with you, if only to try to protect you.”
“When you say Gaia must go with me, you mean you must go with me. Am I correct?”
“I am Gaia,” said Bliss simply.
“But so is everything else on and in this planet. Why, then, you? Why not some other portion of Gaia?”
“Because Pel wishes to go with you, and if he goes with you, he would not be happy with any other portion of Gaia than myself.”
Pelorat, who sat rather unobtrusively on a chair in another corner (with his back, Trevize noted, to his own image) said softly, “That’s true, Golan. Bliss is my portion of Gaia.”
Bliss smiled suddenly. “It seems rather exciting to be thought of in that way. It’s very alien, of course.”
“Well, let’s see.” Trevize put his hands behind his head and began to lean backward in his chair. The thin legs creaked as he did so, so that he quickly decided the chair was not sturdy enough to endure that game and brought it down to all four feet. “Will you still be part of Gaia if you leave her?”
“I need not be. I can isolate myself, for instance, if I seem in danger of serious harm, so that harm will not necessarily spill over into Gaia, or if there is any other overriding reason for it. That, however, is a matter of emergency only. Generally, I will remain part of Gaia.”
“Even if we Jump through hyperspace?”
“Even then, though that will complicate matters somewhat.”
“Somehow I don’t find that comforting.”
Trevize wrinkled his nose in the usual metaphoric response to a bad smell. “It means that anything that is said and done on my ship that you hear and see will be heard and seen by all of Gaia.”
“I am Gaia so what I see, hear, and sense, Gaia will see, hear, and sense.”
“Exactly. Even that wall will see, hear, and sense.”
Bliss looked at the wall he pointed to and shrugged. “Yes, that wall, too. It has only an infinitesimal consciousness so that it senses and understands only infinitesimally, but I presume there are some subatomic shifts in response to what we are saying right now, for instance, that enable it to fit into Gaia with more purposeful intent for the good of the whole.”
“But what if I wish privacy? I may not want the wall to be aware of what I say or do.”
Bliss looked exasperated and Pelorat broke in suddenly. “You know, Golan, I don’t want to interfere, since I obviously don’t know much about Gaia. Still, I’ve been with Bliss and I’ve gathered somehow some of what it’s all about. If you walk through a crowd on Terminus, you see and hear a great many things, and you may remember some of it. You might even be able to recall all of it under the proper cerebral stimulation, but mostly you don’t care. You let it go. Even if you watch some emotional scene between strangers and even if you’re interested; still, if it’s of no great concern to you-you let it go-you forget. It must be so on Gaia, too. Even if all of Gaia knows your business intimately, that doesn’t mean that Gaia necessarily cares. Isn’t that so, Bliss dear?”
“I’ve never thought of it that way, Pel, but there is something in what you say. Still, this privacy Trev talks about-I mean, Trevize-is nothing we value at all. In fact, I/we/Gaia find it incomprehensible. To want to be not part-to have your voice unheard-your deeds unwitnessed-your thoughts unsensed-” Bliss shook her head vigorously. “I said that we can block ourselves off in emergencies, but who would want to live that way, even for an hour?”
“I would,” said Trevize. “That is why I must find Earth to find out the overriding reason, if any, that drove me to choose this dreadful fate for humanity.”
“It is not a dreadful fate, but let us not debate the matter. I will be with you, not as a spy, but as a friend and helper. Gaia will be with you not as a spy, but as a friend and helper.”
Trevize said, somberly, “Gaia could help me best by directing me to Earth.”
Slowly, Bliss shook her head. “Gaia doesn’t know the location of Earth. Dom has already told you that.”
“I don’t quite believe that. After all, you must have records. Why have I never been able to see those records during my stay here? Even if Gaia honestly doesn’t know where Earth might be located, I might gain some knowledge from the records. I know the Galaxy in considerable detail, undoubtedly much better than Gaia does. I might be able to understand and follow hints in your records that Gaia, perhaps, doesn’t quite catch.”
“But what records are these you talk of, Trevize?”
“Any records. Books, films, recordings, holographs, artifacts, whatever it is you have. In the time I’ve been here I haven’t seen one item that I would consider in any way a record.-Have you, Janov?”
“No,” said Pelorat hesitantly, “but I haven’t really looked.”
“Yet I have, in my quiet way,” said Trevize, “and I’ve seen nothing. Nothing! I can only suppose they’re being hidden from me. Why, I wonder? Would you tell me that?”
Bliss’s smooth young forehead wrinkled into a puzzled frown. “Why didn’t you ask before this? I/we/Gaia hide nothing, and we tell no lies. An Isolate-an individual in isolation-might tell lies. He is limited, and is fearful because he is limited. Gaia, however, is a planetary organism of great mental ability and has no fear. For Gaia to tell lies, to create descriptions that are at variance with reality, is totally unnecessary.”
Trevize snorted. “Then why have I carefully been kept from seeing any records? Give me a reason that makes sense.”
“Of course.” She held out both hands, palms up before her. “We don’t have any records.”
PELORAT recovered first, seeming the less astonished of the two.
“My dear,” he said gently, “that is quite impossible. You cannot have a reasonable civilization without records of some kind.”
Bliss raised her eyebrows. “I understand that. I merely mean we have no records of the type that Trev-Trevize-is talking about, or was at all likely to come across. I/we/Gala have no writings, no printings, no films, no computer data banks, nothing. We have no carvings on stone, for that matter. That’s all I’m saying. Naturally, since we have none of these, Trevize found none of these.”
Trevize said, “What do you have, then, if you don’t have any records that I would recognize as records?”
Bliss said, enunciating carefully, as though she were speaking to a child. “I/we/Gala have a memory. I remember.”
“What do you remember?” asked Trevize.
“You remember all reference data?”
“For how long? For how many years back?”
“For indefinite lengths of time.”
“You could give me historical data, biographical, geographical, scientific? Even local gossip?”
“All in that little head.” Trevize pointed sardonically at Bliss’s right temple.
“No,” she said. “Gala’s memories are not limited to the contents of my particular skull. See here”-for the moment she grew formal and even a little stern, as she ceased being Bliss solely and took on an amalgam of other units “there must have been a time before the beginning of history when human beings were so primitive that, although they could remember events, they could not speak. Speech was invented and served to express memories and to transfer them from person to person. Writing was eventually invented in order to record memories and transfer them across time from generation to generation. All technological advance since then has served to make more room for the transfer and storage of memories and to make the recall of desired items easier. However, once individuals joined to form Gaia, all that became obsolete. We can return to memory, the basic system of record-keeping on which all else is built. Do you see that?”
Trevize said, “Are you saying that the sum total of all brains on Gaia can remember far more data than a single brain can?”
“But if Gaia has all the records spread through the planetary memory, what good is that to you as an individual portion of Gaia?”
“All the good you can wish. Whatever I might want to know is in an individual mind somewhere, maybe in many of them. If it is very fundamental, such as the meaning of the word ‘chair,’ it is in every mind. But even if it is something esoteric that is in only one small portion of Gala’s mind, I can call it up if I need it, though such recall may take a bit longer than if the memory is more widespread.-Look, Trevize, if you want to know some. thing that isn’t in your mind, you look at some appropriate book-film, or make use of a computer’s data banks. I scan Gala’s total mind.”
Trevize said, “How do you keep all that information from pouring into your mind and bursting your cranium?”
“Are you indulging in sarcasm, Trevize?”
Pelorat said, “Come, Golan, don’t be unpleasant.”
Trevize looked from one to the other and, with a visible effort, allowed tightness about his face to relax. “I’m sorry. I’m borne down by a responsibility I don’t want and don’t know how to get rid of. That may make me sound unpleasant when I don’t intend to be. Bliss, I really wish to know. How do you draw upon the contents of the brains of others without then storing it in your own brain and quickly overloading its capacity?”
Bliss said, “I don’t know, Trevize; any more than you know the detailed workings of your single brain. I presume you know the distance from your sun to a neighboring star, but you are not always conscious of it. You store it somewhere and can retrieve the figure at any time if asked. If not asked, you , may with time forget it, but you can then always retrieve it from some data bank. If you consider Gala’s brain a vast data bank, it is one I can call on, but there is no need for me to remember consciously any particular item I have made use of. Once I have made use of a fact or memory, I can allow it to pass out of memory. For that matter, I can deliberately put it back, so to speak, in the place I got it from.”
“How many people on Gaia, Bliss? How many human beings?”
“About a billion. Do you want the exact figure as of now?”
Trevize smiled ruefully. “I quite see you can call up the exact figure if you wish, but I’ll take the approximation.”
“Actually,” said Bliss, “the population is stable and oscillates about a particular number that is slightly in excess of a billion. I can tell by how much the number exceeds or falls short of the mean by extending my consciousness and-well-feeling the boundaries. I can’t explain it better than that to some one who has never shared the experience.”
“It seems to me, however, that a billion human minds-a number of them being those of children-are surely not enough to hold in memory all the data needed by a complex society.”
“But human beings are not the only living things on Gaia, Trev.”
“Do you mean that animals remember, too?”
“Nonhuman brains can’t store memories with the same density human brains can, and much of the room in all brains, human and nonhuman alike, must be given over to personal memories which are scarcely useful except to the particular component of the planetary consciousness that harbors them. However, significant quantities of advanced data can be, and are, stored in animal brains, also in plant tissue, and in the mineral structure of the planet.”
“In the mineral structure? The rocks and mountain range, you mean?”
“And, for some kinds of data, the ocean and atmosphere. All that is Gaia, too.”
“But what can nonliving systems hold?”
“A great deal. The intensity is low but the volume is so great that a large majority of Gaia’s total memory is in its rocks. It takes a little longer to retrieve and replace rock memories so that it is the preferred place for storing dead data, so to speak, items that, in the normal course of events, would rarely be called upon.”
“What happens when someone dies whose brain stores data of considerable value?”
“The data is not lost. It is slowly crowded out as the brain disorganizes after death, but there is ample time to distribute the memories into other parts of Gaia. And as new brains appear in babies and become more organized with growth, they not only develop their personal memories and thoughts but are fed appropriate knowledge from other sources. What you would call education is entirely automatic with me/us/Gaia.”
Pelorat said, “Frankly, Golan, it seems to me that this notion of a living world has a great deal to be said for it.”
Trevize gave his fellow-Foundationer a brief, sidelong glance. “I’m sure of that, Janov, but I’m not impressed. The planet, however big and however diverse, represents one brain. One! Every new brain that arises is melted into the whole. Where’s the opportunity for opposition, for disagreement? When you think of human history, you think of the occasional human being whose minority view may be condemned by society but who wins out in the end and changes the world. What chance is there on Gaia for the great rebels of history?”
“There is internal conflict,” said Bliss. “Not every aspect of Gaia necessarily accepts the common view.”
“It must be limited,” said Trevize. “You cannot have too much turmoil within a single organism, or it would not work properly. If progress and development are not stopped altogether, they must certainly be slowed. Can we take the chance of inflicting that on the entire Galaxy? On all of humanity?”
Bliss said, without open emotion, “Are you now questioning your own decision? Are you changing your mind and are you now saying that Gaia is an undesirable future for humanity?”
Trevize tightened his lips and hesitated. Then, he said, slowly, “I would like to, but not yet. I made my decision on some basis.-some unconscious basis-and until I find out what that basis was, I cannot truly decide whether I am to maintain or change my decision. Let us therefore return to the matter of Earth.”
“Where you feel you will learn the nature of the basis on which you made your decision. Is that it, Trevize?”
“That is the feeling I have.-Now Dom says Gaia does not know the location of Earth. And you agree with him, I believe.”
“Of course I agree with him. I am no less Gaia than he is.”
“And do you withhold knowledge from me? Consciously, I mean?”
“Of course not. Even if it were possible for Gaia to lie, it would not lie to you. Above all, we depend upon your conclusions, and we need them to be accurate, and that requires that they be based on reality.”
“In that case,” said Trevize, “let’s make use of your world-memory. Probe backward and tell me how far you can remember.”
There was a small hesitation. Bliss looked blankly at Trevize, as though, for a moment, she was in a trance. Then she said, “Fifteen thousand years.”
“Why did you hesitate?”
“It took time. Old memories-really old-are almost all in the mountain roots where it takes time to dig them out.”
“Fifteen thousand years ago, then? Is that when Gaia was settled?”
“No, to the best of our knowledge that took place some three thousand years before that.”
“Why are you uncertain? Don’t you-or Gaia-remember?”
Bliss said, “That was before Gaia had developed to the point where memory became a global phenomenon.”
“Yet before you could rely on your collective memory, Gaia must have kept records, Bliss. Records in the usual sense recorded, written, filmed, and so on.”
“I imagine so, but they could scarcely endure all this time.”
“They could have been copied or, better yet, transferred into the global memory, once that was developed.”
Bliss frowned. There was another hesitation, longer this time. “I find no sign of these earlier records you speak of.”
“Why is that?”
“I don’t know, Trevize. I presume that they proved of no great importance. I imagine that by the time it was understood that the early nonmemory records were decaying, it was decided that they had grown archaic and wore not needed.”
“You don’t know that. You presume and you imagine, but you don’t know that. Gaia doesn’t know that.”
Bliss’s eyes fell. “It must be so.”
“Must be? I am not a part of Gaia and therefore I need not presume what Gaia presumes-which gives you an example of the importance of isolation. I, as an Isolate, presume something else.”
“What do you presume?”
“First, there is something I am sure of. A civilization in being is not likely to destroy its early records. Far from judging them to be archaic and unnecessary, they are likely to treat them with exaggerated reverence and would labor to preserve them. If Gaia’s preglobal records were destroyed, Bliss, that destruction is not likely to have been voluntary.”
“How would you explain it, then?”
“In the Library at Trantor, all references to Earth were removed by someone or some force other than that of the Trantorian Second Foundationers themselves. Isn’t it possible, then, that on Gaia, too, all references to Earth were removed by something other than Gaia itself?”
“How do you know the early records involved Earth?”
“According to you, Gaia was founded at least eighteen thousand years ago. That brings us back to the period before the establishment of the Galactic Empire, to the period when the Galaxy was being settled and the prime source of Settlers was Earth. Pelorat will confirm that.”
Pelorat, caught a little by surprise by suddenly being called on, cleared his throat. “So go the legends, my dear. I take those legends seriously and I think, as Golan Trevize does, that the human species was originally confined to a single planet and that planet was Earth. The earliest Settlers came from Earth.”
“If, then,” said Trevize, “Gaia was founded in the early days of hyperspatial travel, then it is very likely to have been colonized by Earthmen, or possibly by natives of a not very old world that had not long before been colonized by Earthmen. For that reason, the records of Gaia’s settlement and of the first few millennia thereafter must clearly have involved Earth and Earthmen and those records are gone. Something seems to be seeing to it that Earth is not mentioned anywhere in the records of the Galaxy. And if so, there must be some reason for it.”
Bliss said indignantly, “This is conjecture, Trevize. You have no evidence for this.”
“But it is Gaia that insists that my special talent is that of coming to correct conclusions on the basis of insufficient evidence. If, then, I come to a firm conclusion, don’t tell me I lack evidence.”
Bliss was silent.
Trevize went on, “All the more reason then for finding Earth. I intend to leave as soon as the Far Star is ready. Do you two still want to come?”
“Yes,” said Bliss at once, and “Yes,” said Pelorat.