|First Appearance||Foundation's Friends|
Isaac Asimov &|
"Trantor Falls" is Harry Turtledove's contribution to the 1989 anthology Foundation's Friends: Stories in Honor of Isaac Asimov, edited by Isaac Asimov and Martin Greenberg. It is a piece of fan fiction set in the universe of Asimov's famous Foundation series and recounts the story of the fall of Trantor, the capital world of the Galactic Empire, as observed by citizens of the Second Foundation: an event not depicted in Asimov's Foundation stories, but periodically offhandedly referenced as having happened between the two halves of Foundation and Empire.
Specifically, the story discusses the interplay between Gilmer, the warlord who commands the sack, and Yokim Sarns, the Dean of the Galactic University, the only commander (of a militia made up of students and faculty) to hold off Gilmer's forces, and, unbeknownst to Gilmer or any outsider, First Speaker of the Second Foundation. Most of the story's 20 pages show negotiations between the two leaders for a ceasefire that will leave the University (and the Second Foundation) free of interference by Gilmer's rule of the city-planet in exchange for political neutrality on the university's part. The negotiations take place as Sarns and another Speaker, Maryan Drabel, give Gilmer a tour of their campus and of the Imperial Library. The story alternates between Gilmer's and Sarns's POVs, with the former feeling amazed and increasingly intimidated by the academics and the latter using this fact to his, and the Second Foundation's, advantage.
Asimov did not depict the fall of Trantor. Early in the Foundation series, Asimov made the location of the Second Foundation a mystery. The characters discounted the inhabitants of post-Trantor as no more than country bumpkins, which is eventually revealed to be the disguise adopted by the Second Foundation. Turtledove was writing for readers familiar with the Foundation saga as a whole, and for whom the information that the Second Foundation was hiding out on Trantor would be no surprise.