Asimov’s ‘Foundation’ series


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Apple moves forward with its adaption of Isaac Asimov’s ‘Foundation’

Scarab Sages

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Hope it comes to fruition.
I still remember Anne McCaffrey's Dragonriders of Pern all but started filming and cancelled at last minute.


It's an odd choice. The books aren't very well-written and have aged badly, the characterisation is poor, the central SF idea turned out to be so BS that the author abandons it halfway through the series (chaos theory pretty much put paid to psychohistory as even a vaguely plausible concept, as Asimov realised between Books 3 and 4), there are no female characters of note in the first three books, and almost no female characters of note who are not treated as sex objects in the latter four, and the story is so fragmented and broken up across different time periods you could never forge a coherent story out of it. Plus Asimov never finished it (the Galaxia storyline got so weird that he gave up and wrote prequels instead).

So I suspect this is going to borrow the Foundation name and a few concepts and character names but otherwise be a completely new storyline.


Werthead wrote:

It's an odd choice. The books aren't very well-written and have aged badly, the characterisation is poor, the central SF idea turned out to be so BS that the author abandons it halfway through the series (chaos theory pretty much put paid to psychohistory as even a vaguely plausible concept, as Asimov realised between Books 3 and 4), there are no female characters of note in the first three books, and almost no female characters of note who are not treated as sex objects in the latter four, and the story is so fragmented and broken up across different time periods you could never forge a coherent story out of it. Plus Asimov never finished it (the Galaxia storyline got so weird that he gave up and wrote prequels instead).

So I suspect this is going to borrow the Foundation name and a few concepts and character names but otherwise be a completely new storyline.

That's a very odd take on a long acknowledged classic of SF.

Possibly because you're kind of overlooking the 30 years between Second Foundation and Foundation's Edge. "Halfway through the series" doesn't really make any sense in the context of "when his published persuaded him to come back to the best selling series decades later."

The Foundation trilogy is a classic. The others, not so much. Yeah, they're products of their time. They're very much science fiction of ideas, not really focused on either characters or action.

That's why I'm surprised at them being adapted and doubt it'll be at all faithful. How do you adapt a story to big budget TV where the climax is one councillor persuading the others to sit around and do nothing? Or where the obvious hero's desperate ploy falls through and the threat fizzles out anyway?


thejeff wrote:
That's a very odd take on a long acknowledged classic of SF.

Well, they're certainly old and influential, which may indicate they are "classics" by some metrics, but I don't feel that's enough. The LENSMAN series is also old and influential, but, like FOUNDATION, it's also badly written with poor characters (and a questionable line in eugenics). Just because something is old does not mean it's good.

For my metric a true "classic" has to stand up as a good read with interesting insights and good characters decades later. From the same time period or just after, THE DYING EARTH, DUNE, A CANTICLE FOR LEIBOWITZ, THE STARS MY DESTINATION, CHILDHOOD'S END etc all still stand up across the board quite well today. FOUNDATION does not, in my opinion.


Werthead wrote:
thejeff wrote:
That's a very odd take on a long acknowledged classic of SF.

Well, they're certainly old and influential, which may indicate they are "classics" by some metrics, but I don't feel that's enough. The LENSMAN series is also old and influential, but, like FOUNDATION, it's also badly written with poor characters (and a questionable line in eugenics). Just because something is old does not mean it's good.

For my metric a true "classic" has to stand up as a good read with interesting insights and good characters decades later. From the same time period or just after, THE DYING EARTH, DUNE, A CANTICLE FOR LEIBOWITZ, THE STARS MY DESTINATION, CHILDHOOD'S END etc all still stand up across the board quite well today. FOUNDATION does not, in my opinion.

Tastes vary. Foundation (the first short story) won a Retro Hugo this year. The series still routinely places near the top of Best SF lists.

It seems to have staying power.

Doesn't mean you have to like it, of course.


My thoughts on the problems with adaptating the series.

They are significant and I'm not sure how an adaptation will overcome them. Aside from levels of sexism that are unacceptable today, there other big issues are structural problems (unless this is going to be an SF version of FARGO, you can't refresh the entire cast every 3 episodes), technological issues (no AIs or robots 22,000 years in the future?), it doesn't have an ending and there's that massive cross-over with the ROBOTS and EMPIRE series later on which will come out of left-field massively since those stories aren't being adapted as well.

Another issue is that a lot of the ideas that FOUNDATION originated, including the modern idea of hyperspace, planets with cities covering the entire surface, galactic empires, space battles etc are now very standard tropes (STAR WARS borrowed a huge chunk of its worldbuilding from FOUNDATION, in particular) that may risk end up looking a little stale.

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Syfy did an adaptation of Childhood's End a few years ago (it wasn't that great).


Werthead wrote:

My thoughts on the problems with adaptating the series.

They are significant and I'm not sure how an adaptation will overcome them. Aside from levels of sexism that are unacceptable today, there other big issues are structural problems (unless this is going to be an SF version of FARGO, you can't refresh the entire cast every 3 episodes), technological issues (no AIs or robots 22,000 years in the future?), it doesn't have an ending and there's that massive cross-over with the ROBOTS and EMPIRE series later on which will come out of left-field massively since those stories aren't being adapted as well.

Another issue is that a lot of the ideas that FOUNDATION originated, including the modern idea of hyperspace, planets with cities covering the entire surface, galactic empires, space battles etc are now very standard tropes (STAR WARS borrowed a huge chunk of its worldbuilding from FOUNDATION, in particular) that may risk end up looking a little stale.

Now, most of that I can agree with. It's a weird series, especially the original short stories and I don't think it'll adapt well to TV.


The sexism problem is easily overcome. Just replace some of the male characters in the original series with female ones.

(I especially think that Jord Parma, that missionary, should be a beautiful woman. Then when Hober Mallow turns her in to the Korellian authorities it will seem all the more shocking.)

But I agree that the Foundation saga - much as I love it - wouldn't translate well to TV.

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