Joseph Schwartz is the main character in Isaac Asimov's Pebble in the Sky.


Joseph Schwartz was born in 1887. He has a wife, two daughters and a grandchild.

In 1949, he has started his retirement. He lives in Chicago until he is accidentally transferred into the Year 12.411 (827 G. E.). He lands a day's walk away from the town Chica (former Chicago). After his arrival, he stumbles upon the farm of Loa and Arbin Maren, who are living with Loa's disabled father Grew.

Since the language has changed in over ten thousand years, he is unable to make anyone understand him and is taken for mentally deficient.

Loa and Arbin decide to bring him to the Institute for Nuclear Research where Dr. Shek submits him to a experimental treatment with his synapsifyer. Over time, Schwartz develops higher learning abilities, enabling him to learn the language within days. Also he develops the ability of telepathy, not very different from those of the Mule but less strong.

After he fled the Institute, he learned about "The Sixty", Earth's practice of euthanasia of people over sixty and anyone unable to contribute to society, from Grew back at the Marens farm. Since he is 62 at that time he decides to leave for Chica in hope for an alternative.

Since Balkis, the Secretary to the High Minister, already suspects him being part of a conspiracy by the Empire together with Dr. Shekt and Dr. Arvardan, he is captured and incarcerated with them, and Dr. Shekt's daughter Pola in the Chica Hall of Correction. Being incarcerated with them, he learns from the Zealots plan of wiping out the population of the rest of the universe with a virus created by the Zealots.

Making use of his new powers, they escape with Balkis as their hostage to Fort Dibburn. Since they are unable to convince either the Colonel or the Procurator Ennies of the treasonous acts, he manages to escape making use of his powers while the other stay in captivity. He learns of the location of the launch site from Balkis' mind, then makes use of Luitenant Claudys' hatred for Earthers. He makes him mount one of the bombers of the Fort and bombard the launch site at Senloo Temple just three hours before the launch.

Since Balkis has no knowledge of what happens outside of Fort Dibburn, he begins to brag about Earth having brought down the Empire with their biological weapon, revealing his conspiracy against the Empire. Everyone being certain of the apparent destruction until Schwartz reveals his a few hours before.

For his act, he receives the Ribbon of the Order of the Spaceship and Sun, First Class, which only two others had ever received non-posthumously.