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The Speaker is the effective leader of the Second Foundation. At meetings of the executive council of the Second Foundation, he/she always speaks first. The council (known informally as the "Table") consists of twelve Speakers. Each Speaker begins as a student, as at an institute of higher learning, and is expected to have made an original contribution to the Seldon Plan which has been scrutinised and accepted by the existing Board. Speakers frequently communicate via telepathy and generalised hand gestures, which can communicate a concept more clearly and directly than actual speech.
Whilst the title implies that the First Speaker is merely one of the twelve, in effect he/she is primus inter pares, and therefore in practice, the position holds more power than indicated. The position became more important through the history of the Foundation.
Notable first speakers include:
- in Asimov's works:
- Hari Seldon (1st)
- Wanda Seldon - not described as such, but presumed to have served as 2nd First Speaker.
- Unnamed First Speaker who (with the help of Bail Channis) defeated the Mule (18th)
- Preem Palver (19th)
- Kol Benjoam (21st)
- Quindor Shandess (25th); served during the period chronicled in Foundation's Edge.
- Other Authors: