Hober Mallow (b. 19,590, Smyrno; d. 19,697, Terminus City) was a master trader of Smyrnian birth who was known for putting an end to the policy of using Salvor Hardin's cult of Scientism to support the Foundation's expansion, as well as his several successful terms as mayor of Terminus City.
In the incident that sparked his entrance into politics, Mallow was sent to Korell to investigate the disappearance of several Foundation ships. Upon his arrival to the main planet, a priest of Scientism took refuge in his ship, followed soon after by a large mob. After interrogating the priest, Mallow had him sent out, receiving an invitation to meet with the Commdor of Korell, Asper Argo soon after. During his talk with Argo, Mallow manages to strike up a trade deal, selling him nucleic objects without bothering to establish a priesthood, discovering at the same time that the Galactic Empire was still alive and capable of expanding. After a short visit to the world of Siwenna, Mallow returned to Terminus.
Several months later, Jorane Sutt, the Mayor's secretary, accused him of murder for his abandonment of the priest (which, while technically legal, will wreck Mallow's reputation), but during the trial Mallow reveals the priest was actually a Korellian secret police agent: the man was not in any real danger, as he was just bait to see if the Foundation ships would break the law. The resulting popular support allowed him to have Sutt sent to prison and, eventually, become the Mayor.
During his stint as the Mayor, Asper Argo decides to declare war on the Foundation. However, much to everyone's surprise, Mallow has the Navy retreat without presenting battle, and does not do anything beyond stopping trade with Korell. As he explains later to a friend of his, though, there are good reasons behind this policy:
- While the Foundation's ships and fleet are possibly more powerful than that of Korell's, Korell is in contact with the Empire, and should the Foundation defeat Korell by force of arms, the Empire might decide to attack the Foundation before the Foundation can defend itself from the Empire.
- Korell's economy has been retooled to work pretty much with the Foundation's technology. While this has brought a lot of money to the Commdor's and the main industrialists' pockets, it also leaves them dangerously dependent on the Foundation's help for maintenance - which, because of the war, is now unavailable. As household appliances and industrial machine breaks down, Argo begins to lose support, which he cannot recoup with a patriotism surge because war has not come to Korell, and industries cannot re-engineer themselves to work with the old methods because of the great costs involved.
- Finally, the Empire cannot supply Korell with machinery as good as the Foundation's due to their loss of scientific knowledge.
Eventually, Mallow's analysis proves true and Korell surrenders bloodlessly to the Foundation, allowing them to start a new phase of expansion at the cost of slowly turning the Foundation into a plutocracy ruled by Merchant Princes.