Jonathan Nolan Developing Isaac Asimov’s Foundation Series for HBO

HBO continues to move into the science fiction sphere with an exciting new adaptation: The Wrap reports that Interstellar co-writer Jonathan Nolan is developing Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series for the cable network. HBO nabbed the rights after an adaptation from Sony Pictures, with Roland Emmerich then attached to direct, never materialized.

This will be HBO’s second big sci-fi undertaking: They’re also collaborating with Nolan (and wife Lisa Joy Nolan) on a Westworld TV series (based on the 1973 film). But according to The Wrap, he’s been quietly working on the Asimov project as well for the last few months.

Or maybe not so quietly. In a recent interview with Indiewire, when asked what sci-fi work he thought more people should know about, Nolan very clearly expressed his admiration for Asimov’s series:

Well, I fucking love the Foundation novels by Isaac Asimov—they’re certainly not unknown, 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 fucking 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 fucking hair on fire.

One of those ideas is psychohistory—a field created by mathematician Hari Seldon, in which he uses algorithms and societal indicators to predict the future of civilizations. Believing that the Galactic Empire is about to crumble, Seldon sets up the titular Foundation, a colony of artisans and engineers intended to preserve humanity’s collective knowledge. It is Seldon’s hope that the Foundation can shrink the predicted Dark Ages from 30,000 years to a mere thousand. Of course, he doesn’t take into account the chaos of human nature, especially the actions of a mutant called The Mule.

The notion of algorithms predicting the future is not unlike the premise of Nolan’s TV series Person of Interest, so it’s no surprise that he was drawn to the project. The Foundation books will also find a good home in television (as opposed to film), because they’re a series of linked stories that jump around in decades and centuries, creating a huge cast of characters.

No release date has been announced for the Foundation series. In the meantime, check out our Science of Future Past column, where we analyze the science and predictions (including Wikipedia?) in the Foundation books.


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