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Jonathan Nolan Bringing Asimov's 'Foundation' to HBO

By Steven Lloyd Wilson | Industry | November 12, 2014 |

By Steven Lloyd Wilson | Industry | November 12, 2014 |

I would really be willing to pay have some people brutally killed if that’s what it took to get a quality science fiction sort working on putting an adaptation of Asimov’s Foundation series onto the screen. Luckily, the Nolan clan has got us covered on both angles.

Foundation and its sequels tell the story of a distant future, when humanity is in a golden age of vast and powerful empire. One scientist (Harry Seldon) uses social science to predict with mathematical certainty that the unbelievable will happen: the empire will fall and with it will follow tens of thousands of years of dark ages. The answer is not to prevent the fall, but to set the seeds of brilliant people maintaining the light of knowledge in order to help pull humanity out of its downfall over the course of a mere thousand years. The story of course ends up being more complicated than that, since the rise of unpredictable anomalies and singularly great individuals throws the entire plan into question. It’s gorgeous and full of ideas, and while Asimov’s strong suit was never characters, the scale of the story and ideas are fantastic.

Two years ago, Roland Emmerich started to work on a film adaptation. This was very sad news because Emmerich makes science fiction out of the tears of people who actually like science fiction. The good news is that project died quietly and ingloriously. The better news is that now HBO is making a series and they’ve put Jonathan Nolan in charge.

Says Jonathan Nolan:

“Well, I fucking love the ‘Foundation’ novels by Isaac Asimov. They’re certainly not [unknown], but that’s a set of books I think everyone would benefit from reading. That’s a set of books where the influence they have is just fucking massive. They have many imitators and many have been inspired by them, but go back and read those, and there are some ideas in those that’ll set your fucking hair on fire.”

Sir, can I just say, that I fucking love everything about your enthusiasm, and can’t fucking wait to see it on screen.

And just as a nitpick to all the trade news sites that are picking this up and calling it the ‘Foundation Trilogy’. Just stop. It’s not a trilogy. Asmiov originally wrote three books in the sixties and then added four more during the eighties. They’re all part of the main storyline, not a spin off or anything. It’s been longer since the last entry in the series than it was between the third and fourth novels. Calling it a trilogy means that you have no fucking clue whatsoever about these novels and are just skimming the first line of the wikipedia entry in order to write your post.

(source: Indiewire and a hat tip to that Joanna Robinson person.)

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Steven Lloyd Wilson is the sci-fi and history editor. You can email him here or follow him on Twitter.