Isaac Asimov's classic Foundation series gets picked up by Apple

Contributed by
Apr 10, 2018

One of the cornerstone works of classic sci-fi literature may be coming to the screen at last.

Deadline reports that Apple has picked up a TV series based on Isaac Asimov’s Foundation trilogy, to be produced by Skydance Television with David S. Goyer (the Dark Knight trilogy) and Josh Friedman (Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles) on board as showrunners. Skydance grabbed the rights to the project last year from the Asimov estate and put Goyer and Friedman to work adapting Foundation, Foundation and Empire, and Second Foundation, the three core novels in the canon (Asimov wrote another four — two sequels and two prequels — decades after the first three).

The books, which were first published as short stories between 1942 and 1950 before being organized into three volumes, revolve around a mathematician named Hari Seldon, who creates a new science called psychohistory which predicts the imminent collapse of the Galactic Empire that rules over humanity throughout the Milky Way.

Seldon calculates that the collapse will lead to a 30,000-year galactic Dark Ages, so he sets up a community of engineers, artisans, and thinkers in a remote corner of the galaxy — a "foundation" that will end humanity's suffering after just 1,000 years and restore civilization.

Cerebral, mind-bending, and highly influential, the Foundation books have never been considered cinematic. But that has not stopped Hollywood from trying to crack them for years, with Fox, Warner Bros., and Sony all putting the property into development as a film project at different stages. The last iteration, under the guidance of Roland Emmerich (Independence Day), morphed into a TV project that Emmerich and Jonathan Nolan (Westworld) toiled on for HBO — again, with no results.

Apple's streaming TV service is hungry to get into the same business as other outlets like HBO (Game of Thrones), Hulu (The Handmaid's Tale), Amazon (The Lord of the Rings), and AMC (The Terror) that are adapting major sci-fi, horror, and fantasy works to the screen, so Foundation certainly makes sense from that perspective. (The tech titan is also rebooting Amazing Stories and is also developing a sci-fi series with Ronald D. Moore and a "world-building drama" called See.)

Will this attempt at Foundation finally be the one that makes it work for the screen? Perhaps not even Hari Seldon himself can predict that.