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Foundation (2021) | TV Review

By A.M. Kalus

It’s finally here! More than seventy years after publication of the Hugo-Award winning Foundation trilogy, penned by the world-renowned science fiction writer, Isaac Asimov, it has its own TV show at last. The American science fiction drama was created by David S. Goyer and Josh Friedman for Apple TV+ and has already delivered three episodes.

The show offers opulence of colorful costumes, stunning visual effects and a variety of settings - all pleasing to the eye. The story follows the complicated saga of a group of people who are chosen and exiled on the faraway planet, Terminus, with the sole purpose of preserving the entire civilization into a single Encyclopedia. This is the only measure humans can take to curtail thousands of years of barbarism and darkness, and then rebuild their world. Dr Hari Sheldon (starring the brilliant Jared Harris) proposes the idea and uses math to predict humanity's overall future. He calls this mathematical clairvoyance ‘psychohistory’.

Now, taking up Asimov’s Foundation series and turning it into a coherent sequence of cinematic episodes is a daunting task itself as even director James Cameron has admitted it to be a “hard one”. There are many reasons why the attempts to adapt the series so far are without success, but certainly one of them is Asimov’s own reluctance throughout the years.

courtesy of imdb

In his Hollywood and I essay from 1979, Asimov writes about how his affinity for words and his lacking skill in writing for the big screen are not the only reasons he’s resisted the lure of Hollywood. His faith laid in the fact that his fiction will appear the way he’s written it, word by word. Whereas, “anything I write for the visual media…” he writes, “I am certain will be tampered with by producers, directors, actors, office boys and the relatives of any or all of these.” Asimov also shared that he had grown to dislike science fiction cinema for its tendency to impress with guns, exploding ships and buildings, and adding noise for the sake of noise.

Would Asimov like this adaptation? I am not quite sure, but the attempt to put an entire universe into a reel is bold and ambitious. I, for one, am curious to see how it’s going to go.


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