Jonathan Nolan developing Isaac Asimov's Foundation as high-concept HBO series

Contributed by
Nov 10, 2014

Isaac Asimov's landmark saga of future history is coming to cable TV.

The Wrap has revealed that Interstellar screenwriter Jonathan Nolan will pen and produce a series for HBO based on Asimov's legendary original trilogy, which encompasses Foundation, Foundation and Empire and Second Foundation.

Last we heard, Roland Emmerich (Independence Day) was trying unsuccessfully to have the books adapted for the big screen and was making noise about a TV version as well. But when the rights lapsed, HBO snatched them up this past summer. 

The books follow mathematician Hari Seldon, who develops a science called psychohistory that can predict large-scale future events. Seldon is able to foresee the fall of the current Galactic Empire and sees two alternative dark ages, one lasting 30,000 years and the other extending only a single millennium, that could come to pass before a second empire arises. 

To help create the second, shorter outcome, Seldon assembles a "foundation" of engineers, thinkers and artisans and hides them at the far end of the galaxy to protect and expand on humanity's knowledge and sow the seeds of the new civilization.

Nolan dropped a major hint about the new project in a recent interview with Indiewire. Asked to name one piece of sci-fi that he really loved that not enough people knew about, he responded:

“Well, I f**king love the Foundation novels by Isaac Asimov. They're certainly not well-known, 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 f**king 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 f**king hair on fire."

He certainly seems passionate about it, doesn't he? Of course, diehard science fiction fans know all about Asimov's Hugo-winning trilogy (along with the four later books he wrote in the series) or should anyway, but mainstream audiences are probably not nearly as aware of them. If anything can put Asimov's writing back in the public eye, a bells-and-whistles HBO series can almost definitely do it.

Jonathan Nolan, meanwhile, is becoming as major a player as his big brother Christopher. In addition to co-writing Interstellar and the Dark Knight trilogy, he's the creator of CBS' Person of Interest and a new series based on Westworld, which is also in production at HBO.

Can you envision Foundation as an HBO series? Sound off below!

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