THE LEAVING was a blur. Trevize had gathered up his futile weapons, had opened the airlock, and they had tumbled in. Trevize didn’t notice until they were off the surface that Fallom had been brought in as well.
They probably would not have made it in time if the Solarian use of airflight had not been so comparatively unsophisticated. It took the approaching Solarian vessel an unconscionable time to descend and land. On the other hand, it took virtually no time for the computer of the Far Star to take the gravitic ship vertically upward.
And although the cut-off of the gravitational interaction and, therefore, of inertia wiped out the otherwise unbearable effects of acceleration that would have accompanied so speedy a takeoff, it did not wipe out the effects of air resistance. The outer hull temperature rose at a distinctly more rapid rate than navy regulations (or ship specifications, for that matter) would have considered suitable.
As they rose, they could see the second Solarian ship land and several more approaching. Trevize wondered how many robots Bliss could have handled, and decided they would have been overwhelmed if they had remained on the surface fifteen minutes longer.
Once out in space (or space enough, with only tenuous wisps of the planetary exosphere around them), Trevize made for the nightside of the planet. It was a hop away, since they had left the surface as sunset was approaching. In the dark, the Far Star would have a chance to cool more rapidly, and there the ship could continue to recede from the surface in a slow spiral.
Pelorat came out of the room he shared with Bliss. He said, “The child is sleeping normally now. We’ve showed it how to use the toilet and it had no trouble understanding.”
“That’s not surprising. It must have had similar facilities in the mansion.”
“I didn’t see any there and I was looking,” said Pelorat feelingly. “We didn’t get back on the ship a moment too soon for me.”
“Or any of us. But why did we bring that child on board?”
Pelorat shrugged apologetically. “Bliss wouldn’t let go. It was like saving a life in return for the one she took. She can’t bear-”
“I know,” said Trevize.
Pelorat said, “It’s a very oddly shaped child.”
“Being hermaphroditic, it would have to be,” said Trevize.
“It has testicles, you know.”
“It could scarcely do without them.”
“And what I can only describe as a very small vagina.”
Trevize made a face. “Disgusting.”
“Not really, Golan,” said Pelorat, protesting. “It’s adapted to its needs. It only delivers a fertilized egg-cell, or a very tiny embryo, which is then developed under laboratory conditions, tended, I dare say, by robots.”
“And what happens if their robot-system breaks down? If that happens, they would no longer be able to produce viable young.”
“Any world would be in serious trouble if its social structure broke down completely.”
“Not that I would weep uncontrollably over the Solarians.”
“Well,” said Pelorat, “I admit it doesn’t seem a very attractive world-to us, I mean. But that’s only the people and the social structure, which are not our type at all, dear chap. But subtract the people and the robots, and you have a world which otherwise-”
“Might fall apart as Aurora is beginning to do,” said Trevize. “How’s Bliss, Janov?”
“Worn out, I’m afraid. She’s sleeping now. She had a very bad time, Golan.”
“I didn’t exactly enjoy myself either.”
Trevize closed his eyes, and decided he could use some sleep himself and would indulge in that relief as soon as he was reasonably certain the Solarians had no space capability-and so far the computer had reported nothing of artifactitious nature in space.
He thought bitterly of the two Spacer planets they had visited-hostile wild dogs on one-hostile hermaphroditic loners on the other-and in neither place the tiniest hint as to the location of Earth. All they had to show for the double visit was Fallom.
He opened his eyes. Pelorat was still sitting in place at the other side of the computer, watching him solemnly.
Trevize said, with sudden conviction, “We should have left that Solarian child behind.”
Pelorat said, “The poor thing. They would have killed it.”
“Even so,” said Trevize, “it belonged there. It’s part of that society. Being put to death because of being superfluous is the sort of thing it’s born to.”
“Oh, my dear fellow, that’s a hardhearted way to look at it.”
“It’s a rational way. We don’t know how to care for it, and it may suffer more lingeringly with us and die anyway. What does it eat?”
“Whatever we do, I suppose, old man. Actually, the problem is what do we eat? How much do we have in the way of supplies?”
“Plenty. Plenty. Even allowing for our new passenger.”
Pelorat didn’t look overwhelmed with happiness at this remark. He said, “It’s become a pretty monotonous diet. We should have taken some items on board on Comporellon-not that their cooking was excellent.”
“We couldn’t. We left, if you remember, rather hurriedly, as we left Aurora, and as we left, in particular, Solaria.-But what’s a little monotony? It spoils one’s pleasure, but it keeps one alive.”
“Would it be possible to pick up fresh supplies if we need to?”
“Anytime, Janov. With a gravitic ship and hyperspatial engines, the Galaxy is a small place. In days, we can be anywhere. It’s just that half the worlds in the Galaxy are alerted to watch for our ship and I would rather stay out of the way for a time.”
“I suppose that’s so.-Bander didn’t seem interested in the ship.”
“It probably wasn’t even consciously aware of it. I suspect that the Solarians long ago gave up space flight. Their prime desire is to be left completely alone and they can scarcely enjoy the security of isolation if they are forever moving about in space and advertising their presence.”
“What are we going to do next, Golan?”
Trevize said, “We have a third world to visit.”
Pelorat shook his head. “Judging from the first two, I don’t expect much from that.”
“Nor do I at the moment, but just as soon as I get a little sleep, I’m going to get the computer to plot our course to that third world.”
TREVIZE slept considerably longer than he had expected to, but that scarcely mattered. There was neither day nor night, in any natural-sense, on board ship, and the circadian rhythm never worked absolutely perfectly. The hours were what they were made to be, and it wasn’t uncommon for Trevize and Pelorat (and particularly Bliss) to be somewhat out-of-sync as far as the natural rhythms of eating and sleeping were concerned.
Trevize even speculated, in the course of his scrapedown (the importance of conserving water made it advisable to scrape off the suds rather than rinse them off), about sleeping another hour or two, when he turned and found himself staring at Fallom, who was as undressed as he was.
He could not help jumping back, which, in the restricted area of the Personal, was bound to bring part of his body against something hard. He grunted-
Fallom was staring curiously at him and was pointing at Trevize’s penis. What it said was incomprehensible but the whole bearing of the child seemed to bespeak a sense of disbelief. For his own peace of mind, Trevize had no choice but to put his hands over his penis.
Then Fallom said, in its high-pitched voice, “Greetings.”
Trevize started slightly at the child’s unexpected use of Galactic, but the word had the sound of having been memorized.
Fallom continued, a painstaking word at a time, “Bliss-say-you-wash-me.
“Yes?” said Trevize. He put his hands on Fallom’s shoulders. “You-stay-here.”
He pointed downward at the floor and Fallom, of course, looked instantly at the place to which the finger pointed. It showed no comprehension of the phrase at all.
“Don’t move,” said Trevize, holding the child tightly by both arms, pressing them toward the body as though to symbolize immobility. He hastily dried himself and put on his shorts, and over them his trousers.
He stepped out and roared, “Bliss!”
It was difficult for anyone to be more than four meters from any one else on the ship and Bliss came to the door of her room at once. She said, smiling, “Are you calling me, Trevize; or was that the soft breeze sighing through the waving grass?”
“Let’s not be funny, Bliss. What is that?” He jerked his thumb over his shoulder.
Bliss looked past him and said, “Well, it looks like the young Solarian we brought on board yesterday.”
“You brought on board. Why do you want me to wash it?”
“I should think you’d want to. It’s a very bright creature. It’s picking up Galactic words quickly. It never forgets once I explain something. Of course, I’m helping it do so.”
“Yes. I keep it calm. I kept it in a daze during most of the disturbing events on the planet. I saw to it that it slept on board ship and I’m trying to divert its mind just a little bit from its lost robot, Jemby, that, apparently, it loved very much.”
“So that it ends up liking it here, I suppose.”
“I hope so. It’s adaptable because it’s young, and I encourage that by as much as I dare influence its mind. I’m going to teach it to speak Galactic.”
“Then you wash it. Understood?”
Bliss shrugged. “I will, if you insist, but I would want it to feel friendly with each of us. It would be useful to have each of us perform functions. Surely you can co-operate in that.”
“Not to this extent. And when you finish washing it, get rid of it. I want to talk to you.”
Bliss said, with a sudden edge of hostility, “How do you mean, get rid of it?”
“I don’t mean dump it through the airlock. I mean, put it in your room. Sit it down in a corner. I want to talk at you.”
“I’ll be at your service,” she said coldly.
He stared after her, nursing his wrath for the moment, then moved into the pilot-room, and activated the viewscreen.
Solaria was a dark circle with a curving crescent of light at the left. Trevize placed his hands on the desk to make contact with the computer and found his anger cooling at once. One had to be calm to link mind and computer effectively and, eventually, conditioned reflex linked handhold and serenity.
There were no artifactitious objects about the ship in any direction, out as far as the planet itself. The Solarians (or their robots, most likely) could not, or would not, follow.
Good enough. He might as well get out of the night-shadow, then. If he continued to recede, it would, in any case, vanish as Solaria’s disc grew smaller than that of the more distant, but much larger, sun that it circled.
He set the computer to move the ship out of the planetary plane as well, since that would make it possible to accelerate with greater safety. They would then more quickly reach a region where space curvature would be low enough to make the Jump secure.
And, as often on such occasions, he fell to studying the stars. They were almost hypnotic in their quiet changelessness. All their turbulence and instability were wiped out by the distance that left them only dots of light.
One of those dots might well be the sun about which Earth revolved-the original sun, under whose radiation life began, and under whose beneficence humanity evolved.
Surely, if the Spacer worlds circled stars that were bright and prominent members of the stellar family, and that were nevertheless unlisted in the computer’s Galactic map, the same might be true of the sun.
Or was it only the suns of the Spacer worlds that were omitted because of some primeval treaty agreement that left them to themselves? Would Earth’s sun be included in the Galactic map, but not marked off from the myriads of stars that were sun-like, yet had no habitable planet in orbit about itself?
There were after all, some thirty billion sun-like stars in the Galaxy, and only about one in a thousand had habitable planets in orbits about them. There might be a thousand such habitable planets within a few hundred parsecs of his present position. Should he sift through the sun-like stars one by one, searching for them?
Or was the original sun not even in this region of the Galaxy? How many other regions were convinced the sun was one of their neighbors, that they were primeval Settlers-?
He needed information, and so far he had none.
He doubted strongly whether even the closest examination of the millennial ruins on Aurora would give information concerning Earth’s location. He doubted even more strongly that the Solarians could be made to yield information.
Then, too, if all information about Earth had vanished out of the great Library at Trantor; if no information about Earth remained in the great Collective Memory of Gaia; there seemed little chance that any information that might have existed on the lost worlds of the Spacers would have been overlooked.
And if he found Earth’s sun and, then, Earth itself, by the sheerest good fortune-would something force him to be unaware of the fact? Was Earth’s defense absolute? Was its determination to remain in hiding unbreakable?
What was he looking for anyway?
Was it Earth? .Or was it the flaw in Seldon’s Plan that he thought (for no clear reason) he might find on Earth?
Seldon’s Plan had been working for five centuries now, and would bring the human species (so it was said) to safe harbor-at last in the womb of a Second Galactic Empire, greater than the First, a nobler and a freer one-and yet he, Trevize, had voted against it, and for Galaxia.
Galaxia would be one large organism, while the Second Galactic Empire would, however great in size and variety, be a mere union of individual organisms of microscopic size in comparison with itself. The Second Galactic Empire would be another example of the kind of union of individuals that humanity had set up ever since it became humanity. The Second Galactic Empire might be the largest and best of the species, but it would still be but one more member of that species.
For Galaxia, a member of an entirely different species of organization, to be better than the Second Galactic Empire, there must be a flaw in the Plan, something the great Hari Seldon had himself overlooked.
But if it were something Seldon had overlooked, how could Trevize correct the matter? He was not a mathematician; knew nothing, absolutely nothing, about the details of the Plan; would understand nothing, furthermore, even if it were explained to him.
All he knew were the assumptions-that a great number of human beings be involved and that they not be aware of the conclusions reached. The first assumption was self-evidently true, considering the vast population of the Galaxy, and the second had to be true since only the Second Foundationers knew the details of the Plan, and they kept it to themselves securely enough.
That left an added unacknowledged assumption, a taken-for-granted assumption, one so taken for granted it was never mentioned nor thought of-and yet one that might be false. An assumption that, if it were false, would alter the grand conclusion of the Plan and make Galaxia preferable to Empire.
But if the assumption was so obvious and so taken for granted that it was never even expressed, how could it be false? And if no one ever mentioned it, or thought of it, how could Trevize know it was there, or have any idea of its nature even if he guessed its existence?
Was he truly Trevize, the man with the flawless intuition-as Gaia insisted? Did he know the right thing to do even when he didn’t know why he. was doing it?
Now he was visiting every Spacer world he knew about.-Was that the right thing to do? Did the Spacer worlds hold the answer? Or at least the beginning of the answer?
What was there on Aurora but ruins and wild dogs? (And, presumably, other feral creatures. Raging bulls? Overgrown rats? Stalking green-eyed cats?) Solaria was alive, but what was there on it but robots and energy-transducing human beings? What had either world to do with Seldon’s Plan unless they contained the secret of the location of the Earth?
And if they did, what had Earth to do with Seldon’s Plan? Was this all madness? Had he listened too long and too seriously to the fantasy of his own infallibility?
An overwhelming weight of shame came over him and seemed to press upon him to the point where he could barely breathe. He looked at the stars-remote, uncaring-and thought: I must be the Great Fool of the Galaxy.
BLISS’S voice broke in on him. “Well, Trevize, why do you want to see-Is anything wrong?” Her voice had twisted into sudden concern.
Trevize looked up and, for a moment, found it momentarily difficult to brush away his mood. He stared at her, then said, “No, no. Nothing’s wrong. I-I was merely lost in thought. Every once in a while, after all, I find myself thinking.”
He was uneasily aware that Bliss could read his emotions. He had only her word that she was voluntarily abstaining from any oversight of his mind.
She seemed to accept his statement, however. She said, “Pelorat is with Fallom, teaching it Galactic phrases. The child seems to eat what we do without undue objection.-But what do you want to see me about?”
“Well, not here,”, said Trevize. “The computer doesn’t need me at the moment. If you want to come into my room, the bed’s made and you can sit on it while 1 sit on the chair. Or vice versa, if you prefer.”
“It doesn’t matter.” They walked the short distance to Trevize’s room. She eyed him narrowly. “You don’t seem furious anymore.”
“Checking my mind?”
“Not at all. Checking your face.”
“I’m not furious. I may lose my temper momentarily, now and then, but that’s not the same as furious. If you don’t mind, though, there are questions I must ask you.”
Bliss sat down on Trevize’s bed, holding herself erect, and with a solemn expression on her wide-cheeked face and in her dark brown eyes. Her shoulder-length black hair was neatly arranged and her slim hands were clasped loosely in her lap. There was a faint trace of perfume about her.
Trevize smiled. “You’ve dolled yourself up. I suspect you think I won’t yell quite so hard at a young and pretty girl.”
“You can yell and scream all you wish if it will make you feel better. I just don’t want you yelling and screaming at Fallom.”
“I don’t intend to. In fact, I don’t intend to yell and scream at you. Haven’t we decided to be friends?”
“Gaia has never had anything but feelings of friendship toward you, Trevize.”
“I’m not talking about Gaia. I know you’re part of Gaia and that you are Gaia. Still there’s part of you that’s an individual, at least after a fashion. I’m talking to the individual. I’m talking to someone named Bliss without regard-or with as little regard as possible-to Gaia. Haven’t we decided to be friends, Bliss?”
“Then how is it you delayed dealing with the robots on Solaria after we had left the mansion and reached the ship? I was humiliated and physically hurt, yet you did nothing. Even though every moment might bring additional robots to the scene and the number might overwhelm us, you did nothing.”
Bliss looked at him seriously, and spoke as though she were intent on explaining her actions rather than defending them. “I was not doing nothing, Trevize. I was studying the Guardian Robots’ minds, and trying to learn how to handle them.”
“I know that’s what you were doing. At least you said you were at the time. I just don’t see the sense of it. Why handle the minds when you were perfectly capable of destroying them-as you finally did?”
“Do you think it so easy to destroy an intelligent being?”
Trevize’s lips twisted into an expression of distaste. “Come, Bliss. An intelligent being? It was just a robot.”
“Just a robot?” A little passion entered her voice. “That’s the argument always. Just. Just! Why should the Solarian, Bander, have hesitated to kill us? We were just human beings without transducers. Why should there be any hesitation about leaving Fallom to its fate? It was just a Solarian, and an immature specimen at that. If you start dismissing anyone or anything you want to do away with as just a this or just a that, you can destroy anything you wish. There are always categories you can find for them.”
Trevize said, “Don’t carry a perfectly legitimate remark to extremes just to make it seem ridiculous. The robot was just a robot. You can’t deny that. It was not human. It was not intelligent in our sense. It was a machine mimicking an appearance of intelligence.”
Bliss said, “How easily you can talk when you know nothing about it. I am Gaia. Yes, I am Bliss, too, but I am Gaia. I am a world that finds every atom of itself precious and meaningful, and every organization of atoms even more precious and meaningful. I/we/Gaia would not lightly break down an organization, though we would gladly build it into something still more complex, provided always that that would not harm the whole.
“The highest form of organization we know produces intelligence, and to be willing to destroy intelligence requires the sorest need. Whether it is machine intelligence or biochemical intelligence scarcely matters. In fact, the Guardian Robot represented a kind of intelligence I/we/Gaia had never encountered. To study it was wonderful. To destroy it, unthinkable-except in a moment of crowning emergency.”
Trevize said dryly, “There were three greater intelligences at stake: your own, that of Pelorat, the human being you love, and, if you don’t mind my mentioning it, mine.”
“Four! You still keep forgetting to include Fallom.-They were not yet at stake. So I judged. See here-Suppose you were faced with a painting, a great artistic masterpiece, the existence of which meant death to you. All you had to do was to bring a wide brush of paint slam-bang, and at random, across the face of that painting and it would be destroyed forever, and you would be safe. But suppose, instead, that if you studied the painting carefully, and added just a touch of paint here, a speck there, scraped off a minute portion in a third place, and so on, you would alter the painting enough to avoid death, and yet leave it a masterpiece. Naturally, the revision couldn’t be done except with the most painstaking care. It would take time, but surely, if that time existed, you would try to save the painting as well as your life.”
Trevize said, “Perhaps. But in the end you destroyed the painting past redemption. The wide paintbrush came down and wiped out-all the wonderful little touches of color and subtleties of form and shape. And you did that instantly when a little hermaphrodite was at risk, where our danger and your own had not moved you.”
“We Outworlders were still not at immediate risk, while Fallom, it seemed to me, suddenly was. I had to choose between the Guardian Robots and Fallom, and, with no time to lose, I had to choose Fallom.”
“Is that what it was, Bliss? A quick calculation weighing one mind against another, a quick judging of the greater complexity and the greater worth?”
Trevize said, “Suppose I tell you, it was just a child that was standing before you, a child threatened with death. An instinctive maternalism gripped you then, and you saved it where earlier you were all calculation when only three adult lives were at stake.”
Bliss reddened slightly. “There might have been something like that in it; but it was not after the fashion of the mocking way in which you say it. It had rational thought behind it, too.”
“I wonder. If there had been rational thought behind it, you might have considered that the child was meeting the common fate inevitable in its own society. Who knows how many thousands of children had been cut down to maintain the low number these Solarians think suitable to their world?”
“There’s more to it than that, Trevize. The child would be killed because it was too young to be a Successor, and that was because it had a parent who had died prematurely, and that was because I had killed that parent.”
“At a time when it was kill or be killed.”
“Not important. I killed the parent. I could not stand by and allow the child to be killed for my deed.-Besides, it offers for study a brain of a kind that has never been studied by Gaia.”
“A child’s brain.”
“It will not remain a child’s brain. It will further develop the two transducer-lobes on either side of the brain. Those lobes give a Solarian abilities that all of Gaia cannot match. Simply to keep a few lights lit, just to activate a device to open a door, wore me out. Bander could have kept all the power going over an estate as great in complexity and greater in size than that city we saw on Comporellon-and do it even while sleeping.”
Trevize said, “Then you see the child as an important bit of fundamental brain research.”
“In a way, yes.”
“That’s not the way I feel. To me, it seems we have taken danger aboard. Great danger.”
“Danger in what way? It will adapt perfectly-with my help. It is highly intelligent, and already shows signs of feeling affection for us. It will eat what we eat, go where we go, and I/we/Gala will gain invaluable knowledge concerning its brain.”
“What if it produces young? It doesn’t need a mate. It is its own mate.”
“It won’t be of child-bearing age for many years. The Spacers lived for centuries and the Solarians had no desire to increase their numbers. Delayed reproduction is probably bred into the population. Fallom will have no children for a long time.”
“How do you know this?”
“I don’t know it. I’m merely being logical.”
“And I tell you Fallom will prove dangerous.”
“You don’t know that. And you’re not being logical, either.”
“I feel it Bliss, without reason.-At the moment. And it is you, not I, who insists my intuition is infallible.”
And Bliss frowned and looked uneasy.
PELORAT paused at the door to the pilot-room and looked inside in a rather ill-at-ease manner. It was as though he were trying to decide whether Trevize was hard at work or not.
Trevize had his hands on the table, as he always did when he made himself part of the computer, and his eyes were on the viewscreen. Pelorat judged, therefore, he was at work, and he waited patiently, trying not to move or, in any way, disturb the other.
Eventually, Trevize looked up at Pelorat. It was not a matter of total awareness. Trevize’s eyes always seemed a bit glazed and unfocused when he was in computer-communion, as though he were looking, thinking, living in some other way than a person usually did.
But he nodded slowly at Pelorat, as though the sight, penetrating with difficulty, did, at last, sluggishly impress itself on the optic lobes. Then, after a while, he lifted his hands and smiled and was himself again.
Pelorat said apologetically, “I’m afraid I’m getting in your way, Golan.” “Not seriously, Janov. I was just testing to see if we were ready for the Jump. We are, just about, but I think I’ll give it a few more hours, just for luck.”
“Does luck-or random factors-have anything to do with it?”
“An expression only,” said Trevize, smiling, “but random factors do have something to do with it, in theory.-What’s on your mind?”
“May I sit down?”
“Surely, but let’s go into my room. How’s Bliss?”
“Very well.” He cleared his throat. “She’s sleeping again. She must have her sleep, you understand.”
“I understand perfectly. It’s the hyperspatial separation.”
“Exactly, old chap.”
“And Fallom?” Trevize reclined on the bed, leaving Pelorat the chair.
“Those books out of my library that you had your computer print up for me? The folk tales? It’s reading them. Of course, it understands very little Galactic, but it seems to enjoy sounding out the words. He’s-I keep wanting to use the masculine pronoun for it. Why do you suppose that is, old fellow?”
Trevize shrugged. “Perhaps because you’re masculine yourself.”
“Perhaps. It’s fearfully intelligent, you know.”
Pelorat hesitated. “I gather you’re not very fond of Fallom.”
“Nothing against it personally, Janov. I’ve never had children and I’ve never been particularly fond of them generally. You’ve had children, I seem to remember.”
“One son.-It was a pleasure, I recall, having my son when he was a little boy. Maybe that’s why I want to use the masculine pronoun for Fallom. It takes me back a quarter of a century or so.”
“I’ve no objection to your liking it, Janov.”
“You’d like him, too, if you gave yourself a chance.”
“I’m sure I would, Janov, and maybe someday I will give myself a chance to do so.”
Pelorat hesitated again. “I also know that you must get tired of arguing with Bliss.”
“Actually, I don’t think we’ll be arguing much, Janov. She and I are actually getting along quite well. We even had a reasonable discussion just the other day-no shouting, no recrimination-about her delay in inactivating the Guardian Robots. She keeps saving our lives, after all, so I can’t very well offer her less than friendship, can I?”
“Yes, I see that, but I don’t mean arguing, in the sense of quarreling. I mean this constant wrangle about Galaxia as opposed to individuality.”
“Oh, that! I suppose that will continue-politely.”
“Would you mind, Golan, if I took up the argument on her behalf?”
“Perfectly all right. Do you accept the idea of Galaxia on your own, or is it that you simply feel happier when you agree with Bliss?”
“Honestly, on my own. I think that Galaxia is what should be forthcoming. You yourself chose that course of action and I am constantly becoming more convinced that that is correct.”
“Because I chose it? That’s no argument. Whatever Gaia says, I may be wrong, you know. So don’t let Bliss persuade you into Galaxia on that basis.”
“I don’t think you are wrong. Solaria showed me that, not Bliss.”
“Well, to begin with, we are Isolates, you and I.”
“Her term, Janov. I prefer to think of us as individuals.”
“A matter of semantics, old chap. Call it what you will, we are enclosed in our private skins surrounding our private thoughts, and we think first and foremost of ourselves. Self-defense is our first law of nature, even if that means harming everyone else in existence.”
“People have been known to give their lives for others.”
“A rare phenomenon. Many more people have been known to sacrifice the dearest needs of others to some foolish whim of their own.”
“And what has that to do with Solaria?”
“Why, on Solaria, we see what Isolates-or individuals, if you prefer-can become. The Solarians can hardly bear to divide a whole world among themselves. They consider living a life of complete isolation to be perfect liberty. They have no yearning for even their own offspring, but kill them if there are too many. They surround themselves with robot slaves to which they supply the power, so that if they die, their whole huge estate symbolically dies as well. Is this admirable, Golan? Can you compare it in decency, kindness, and mutual concern with Gaia?-Bliss has not discussed this with me at all. It is my own feeling.”
Trevize said, “And it is like you to have that feeling, Janov. I share it. I think Solarian society is horrible, but it wasn’t always like that. They are descended from Earthmen, and, more immediately, from Spacers who lived a much more normal life. The Solarians chose a path, for one reason or another, which led to an extreme, but you can’t judge by extremes. In all the Galaxy, with its millions of inhabited worlds, is there one you know that now, or in the past, has had a society like that of Solaria, or even remotely like that of Solaria? And would even Solaria have such a society if it were not riddled with robots? Is it conceivable that a society of individuals could evolve to such a pitch of Solarian horror without robots?”
Pelorat’s face twitched a little. “You punch holes in everything, Golan or at least I mean you don’t ever seem to be at a loss in defending the type of Galaxy you voted against.”
“I won’t knock down everything. There is a rationale for Galaxia and when I find it, I’ll know it, and I’ll give in. Or perhaps, more accurately, if I find it.
“Do you think you might not?”
Trevize shrugged. “How can I say?-Do you know why I’m waiting a few hours to make the Jump, and why I’m in danger of talking myself into waiting a few days?”
“You said it would be safer if we waited.”
“Yes, that’s what I said, but we’d be safe enough now. What I really fear is that those Spacer worlds for which we have the co-ordinates will fail us altogether. We have only three, and we’ve already used up two, narrowly escaping death each time. In doing so, we have still not gained any hint as to Earth’s location, or even, in actual fact, Earth’s existence. Now I face the third and last chance, and what if it, too, fails us?”
Pelorat sighed. “You know there are old folk tales-one, in-fact, exists among those I gave Fallom to practice upon-in which someone is allowed three wishes, but only three. Three seems to be a significant number in these things, perhaps because it is the first odd number so that it is the smallest decisive number. You know, two out of three wins.-The point is that in these stories, the wishes are of no use. No one ever wishes correctly, which, I have always supposed, is ancient wisdom to the effect that the satisfaction of your wants must be earned, and not-”
He fell suddenly silent and abashed. “I’m sorry, old man, but I’m wasting your time. I do tend to rattle on when I get started on my hobby.”
“I find you always interesting, Janov. I am willing to see the analogy. We have been given three wishes, and we have had two and they have done us no good. Now only one is left. Somehow, I am sure of failure again and so I wish to postpone it. That is why I am putting off the Jump as long as possible.”
“What will you do if you do fail again? Go back to Gaia? To Terminus?”
“Oh no,” said Trevize in a whisper, shaking his head. “The search must continue-if I only knew how.”