Thursday, April 3, 2014

Best book never made into a film series or mini-series -- or, even a TV series?

Isaac Asimov's "Foundation series". New Line Cinema was supposed to do a film trilogy in the late 1990s, but abandoned it to do The Lord of the Rings instead. New Line tried to resurrect the idea in the mid 2000s, but their rights to the novels expired. New Line bid against Sony for the rights in 2008, and lost. Sony assigned the picture to Roland Emmerich (Godzilla, The Day After Tomorrow, 10,000 BC, White House Down), but he's done nothing with them.

The books are based on the idea that "mathematical psychohistorian" Hari Seldon has discovered a way of predicting the future using the social sciences. Despite all the superficial chaos, Seldon discovers, humanity is pretty much a creature of habit. The same cycles repeat, and Seldon can predict when things (depressions, revolutions, social collapse, etc.) will occur. Seldon realizes that the Galactic Empire is pretty much on the verge collapse, despite its wealth and power. This will lead to a 10,000-year dark age, in which billions of people will die. To lessen the impact of the collapse and shorten the time to recovery, Seldon creates "the Foundation" -- a means not only of preserving knowledge but also helping to take over the empire after the collapse occurs and get things improving again. Realizing that the Foundation will be discovered and that powerful politicians and generals will try to seize its knowledge to advance their own personal goals, Seldon creates a secret Second Foundation that is the real object of his attention.

The Foundation series consists of seven books. They were not written in order, so timeline inconsistencies do crop up.
1) Prelude to Foundation (1988)
2) Forward the Foundation (1993)
3) Foundation (1951)
4) Foundation and Empire (1952)
5) Second Foundation (1953)
6) Foundation's Edge (1982)
7) Foundation and Earth (1986)

Three companion novels by Gregory Benford and David Brin, and approved by the Asimov estate, have also been written. The Foundation Series ties into Asimov's I, Robot and other novels in the "Robot Series". The Asimov estate has also approved a bunch of "Robot Series" novels as well, all of which (by default) tie in to the Foundation Series.

This is the cover art from the Foundation novel, and depicts Hari Seldon on the galactic capital "world-city" of Trantor. (The idea was notably ripped off by George Lucas for his Imperial city-planet of Coruscant.)

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