I first read Foundation when I was about 12. After I’d discovered Star Wars and then Star Trek, my parents got me hooked on Asimov’s novels which I read voraciously. I re-read them multiple times in high school and several more times since.
There was talk for decades about an adaptation of some kind, but it never happened. Foundation is in some ways bigger in scope than Dune… because at least Dune is focused on specific characters in the crucible of Arrakis. Asimov’s short stories span the whole galaxy and jump across centuries.
And as a fan of the books, I think this adaptation is a resounding success. I was always expecting to see notable changes in the story and characters. There are absolutely changes that surprise me, but there are also many notable elements that are kept the same. It’s definitely close enough to the original premise and plot that it deserves to keep the original title.
Jared Harris as Hari is excellent, the magnetic combination of charisma, coldly calculating, and showing the burden of what he knows.
Lou Llobell as Gaal is the most developed character in the first two episodes. They take the key plot points of the original story where they were just a plot point to let Hari exposit on psychohistory, and they give her relevant background, personality, hopes and fears.
I really wondered what they were thinking when the previews described multiple emperors as “Brother Day” etc. But there’s a fascinating logic to that. And having cloned emperors (named Cleon ) is both a means of stability in the empire and a sign of stagnation and decay.
The biggest changes—or not? I was REALLY not expecting the writers to bring in any robots, even though we knew from the casting that there was a character named Demerzel. But yep, we get a Daneel-equivalent, along with a passing mention to Robot Wars. (THAT sounds un-Asimov, how could there be a war with the Three Laws in effect? … I imagine we’ll find out something.)
It’s a bit depressing but Foundation is being made at almost the perfect time. When society starts to feel (or at least become aware of) the onrush of historical change and events that they themselves unknowingly caused. But there’s the strong element of hope and the possibility of change, or at least softening the blow. And with more focus on all the people who are going to colonize Terminus, this show puts far more emphasis on people and agency than Asimov’s books, where many of his characters were very cookie-cutter and lacked depth.
And the bonk-bonk-on-the-head cherry on top? Gaal’s home planet is suffering from rising oceans and no one there was doing anything to stop it.
I think this is going to be an amazing show. A bit slower-paced than some people might have hoped for, but for a story that may end up spanning a thousand years, it’s not going to dive in to Star Wars-paced action. I can’t wait for more!
Posted by Lee (Member # 393) on :
It doesn’t feel like Asimov at all. It looks great but I’m not sure. And how can they expand the creation of the Foundation but not mention the Second Foundation at all?
Unless there is more going on than we realise; after all, why have Raych kill Seldon? And then make Dornick escape but not himself?
Here’s what I think is going on. Seldon knew he had to die because the whole point is, the Foundation itself doesn’t know the Plan. In the books, those exiled to Terminus didn’t include anybody who did, or could even hope to follow or recreate Seldon’s work; that was for the Second Foundation.
In the book it’s also unclear what happened to Gaal Dornick. I think I always assumed “he” became part of the 2F, but that makes no sense, he was part of the “conspiracy” so should have been exiled. This resolves that, albeit clumsily; Raych knew he had to pay for his crime as part of Seldon’s small-P plan, but his relationship with Gaal complicated things: there’s no way they wouldn’t believe she wasn’t in on it. And as the only person who understand the big-p Plan (as demonstrated by the way she schooled the committee on the significance of base numbers), she can’t be part of the Foundation.