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Foundation: What to know about Apple TV+’s adaptation of Isaac Asimov's groundbreaking sci-fi novels

By Vanessa Armstrong
Foundation: What to Know About AppleTV+'s Adaptation of Isaac Asimov's Groundbreaking Sci-Fi Novels

Apple TV+’s adaptation of Foundation, the seminal, award-winning sci-fi book series by Isaac Asimov, is set to stream in a few short weeks. Asimov’s story is a sprawling one that spans over a thousand years, and based on breathtaking scenes from the trailers, it looks like Apple has invested heavily in bringing the epic tale to the screen.

Here’s what you need to know about Foundation before the show premieres on Apple’s streaming platform.


How to watch

Foundation is an Apple Original and as such will only be available to Apple TV+ subscribers. The current price is $4.99 a month, though if you happen to buy an eligible Apple device, you may be able to score three months for free.

The first two episodes — the first of which is appropriately called “Foundation” — are set to drop Sept. 24 on Apple TV+. The streamer will release the remaining seven episodes one at a time, every Friday.

Apple TV+ Foundation Still

What Foundation is all about

Apple TV+'s Foundation is based on Isaac Asimov's iconic sci-fi series, a work so foundational (see what we did there?) that it has the honor of receiving the one-time Hugo Award for "Best All-Time Series" in 1966. The books started out as a series of short stories published between 1942-1950. Due to their popularity, these stories were made into three books  — Foundation, Foundation and Empire, and Second Foundation  — and published from 1951-1953. 

The premise of Foundation is that the mighty Galactic Empire, which has ruled over thousands of planets over thousands of years is — according to one man, Dr. Hari Seldon (Jared Harris) — set to collapse. Seldon knows this because he developed a practice called psychohistory, a science that allows him to predict the future using probabilistic terms.

The Empire is unsurprisingly not too happy about the doctor's conclusions, but Seldon works to put events in motion that will reduce the time that civilization is in the dark ages. One of his disciples is Gaal Dornick (Lou Llobell), another psychohistorian that helps put Seldon’s plan in motion by establishing the first “Foundation” on the planet, Terminus. This Foundation is ostensibly a repository of knowledge, a collection to preserve the Empire’s technology when things go bad. In the books, Seldon had additional intent behind creating the Foundation on Terminus, but to delve into that will likely get us into spoiler territory.

In addition to Harris and Llobell, Apple TV+’s Foundation stars Lee Pace as Emperor Brother Day. Cassian Bilton and Terrence Mann play other family members of the Empire, Brother Dawn and Brother Dusk respectively. Leah Harvey is also on board as Salvor Hardin, the mayor of Terminus. Laura Birn plays Demerzel, the First Minister to the Emperor. Writer David S. Goyer (Batman Begins, The Dark Knight) is the showrunner.

While we haven’t seen the show yet, the diversity of the cast alone reveals that Goyer and Apple have changed some of the dated aspects of the source material.

Apple TV+ Foundation Still

The potential future of Foundation

Apple hasn’t officially confirmed yet that it has greenlit the show for subsequent seasons. If they do, however, there is plenty more story to tell, as the Asimov series spans five books as well as two prequels.

Goyer, at least, certainly hopes there will be more than one season. “With Foundation, we can tell the story hopefully over the course of 80 episodes, 80 hours, as opposed to trying to condense it all into two or three hours for a single film,” he said in an interview with Lovin Malta in Feb. 2021.

We would need our own degrees in psychohistory to know whether Foundation will make it to 80 episodes or not. In the meantime, we can start watching the first 10 episodes of the series on Apple TV+ starting Sept. 24.