The Mule

For S.F. (“Science Fiction”?)

You were right — Asimov’s mind-controlling galactic conqueror was called “the Mule” because he was sterile. I guess that Asimov wrote this in so that the character couldn’t have progeny with the same mental powers (and thus perpetuate the threat).

The Mule reminds me of Larry Niven’s Thrintun race, with the power to control other creatures’ minds. Don’t play with the Sea Statue! Like Asimov’s Mule, this was a unique threat — the last surviving member of a now-extinct slaver race.

Also reminds me of the story about King Croesus (as in “rich as Croesus”) asking the Delphic Oracle whether his reign would last long. The Oracle’s answer was that he should beware the day when a mule was king of the Medes. Since it seemed unlikely that such a thing would come to pass, Croesus took this as a green light to attack the Persians. Unfortunately, Cyrus, King of the Persians, was half-Mede and half-Persian, and thus could be considered a “mule” (though not sterile). Cyrus defeated Croesus!

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