Pelorat is a professor of ancient history who has spent his entire life on his obsession of finding Earth, the mythical planet of human origin. He has a particular interest in myths and folklore. Janov's interest in Earth began when, at age fifteen during some indisposition, he was given a book of legends about the origin of humanity. On Terminus, Janov has collected a massive amount of data regarding the Origin Question, and is Terminus' foremost expert regarding Earth.
Janov Pelorat first appears in Foundation's Edge. He is described as white-haired, of average height and weight, and moves without haste and speaks with deliberation. He is 52 years of age but appears considerably older. He has been married in the past, and has a housekeeper named Kloda.
Unusual for a historian of the futuristic society he belongs to, at the time he is first mentioned, he has never left the planet Terminus. Therefore, in addition to the resources available to him from the Terminus University Library, he makes use of interlibrary loans. Such loans can make use of "hyper-radiational signals", which are not described in the stories but appear to refer to a method of transmitting information over vast distances at speeds faster than light.
When he is first described, he is beginning his first sabbatical and hoping to travel off planet for the first time. His goal is the planet Trantor, which was capital of the First Galactic Empire and the home of the Galactic Library (also known as the Library of Trantor, the Imperial Library, and the University of Trantor Library), which during the heights of the First Galactic Empire was the largest repository of reference material in the galaxy. No member of the Foundation has been to Trantor in 120 years.
In the beginning of Foundation's Edge the Mayor of the Foundation notices Pelorat's existence for the first time and promises him that she will arrange for him to travel to Trantor. The Mayor informs him that he will travel to Trantor with the exiled councilman Golan Trevize.
Upon leaving Terminus on the small space ship Far Star, he and Golan Trevize begin their search for Earth. With only the two of them on board, Golan Trevize informs Pelorat that, as pilot and the person in control of the ship, he has decided they will not to go to Trantor but instead to seek out Earth directly with the information they already have.
Instead of finding Earth, by way of the planet Sayshell, they find Gaia, a world which has developed a group consciousness, and is rumored to have destroyed any ships that have been sent to it. While on Gaia, Janov falls in love with a member of Gaia, Bliss. It is these three characters, Golan, Janov, and Bliss, with the addition of Fallom that continue the search for Earth in Foundation and Earth.
- Asimov, Isaac (1982). "Chapter Three, Historian". Foundation's Edge. Foundation Series. United States: Doubleday & Company. p. 33. ISBN 0-385-17725-9.
- Asimov, Isaac (1982). "Chapter Three, Historian". Foundation's Edge. Foundation Series. United States: Doubleday & Company. pp. 33–35. ISBN 0-385-17725-9.
- Asimov, Isaac (1982). "Chapter Three, Historian". Foundation's Edge. Foundation Series. United States: Doubleday & Company. p. 35. ISBN 0-385-17725-9.
- Asimov, Isaac (1982). "Chapter Six, Earth". Foundation's Edge. Foundation Series. United States: Doubleday & Company. p. 95. ISBN 0-385-17725-9.