November 12, 2014

Asimov adaptation coming to HBO


FoundationFresh off the premiere of his new movie Interstellar, screenwriter Jonah Nolan has been tapped to create an adaptation of Isaac Asimov’s Foundation trilogy. In an exclusive for The Wrap, Jeff Sneider reports that Nolan will write and produce the series for HBO and Warner Brothers TV, to air on the former.

Nolan is apparently HBO’s sci-fi-adapter-in-residence these days, as he’s already working on a series based on Michael Crichton’s Westworld books, and has been working on Foundation under wraps for several months now. He’s a big fan of the material, too—typically a good sign for how an adaptation will go. Earlier this month, speaking with IndieWire about science fiction properties that are too often overlooked, he said (in rather colorful language):

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.

Asimov’s classic trilogy is set thousands of years in the future, in the Galactic Empire, when mathematician Hari Seldon discovers that he can use psychohistory (an imagined branch of mathematics) to predict the future, and sees two paths for the declining empire: one with an interregnum of 30,000 years before it begins to thrive again, and another with only a thousand years. In order to bring about the latter, Seldon establishes a group of skilled engineers and artisans at the end of the galaxy, so that they might form the foundation (title alert!) for a new empire.

The original Foundation trilogy—Foundation, Foundation and Empire, and Second Foundation—were published by Gnome Press in the early 1950s, and Asimov continued to add to the series with four more books (two prequels and two sequels) written between 1982-1993. The trilogy won the one-time Hugo Award for Best All-Time Series in 1966. Sony Pictures acquired the rights to the series in 2009, but when the project failed to get off the ground, HBO swooped in to buy the rights for “big bucks” when they became available this summer.


Nick Davies is a publicist at Melville House.