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Author Topic: Isaac Asimov's "Foundation" (2021 - Apple TV)  (Read 616 times)
Lucas
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Further proof that Italians have suspect taste in games.


on: June 23, 2020, 03:56:47 PM

Teaser:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xgbPSA94Rqg
------

I wasn't aware this was in the making: I know that, over the years, some writers and directors juggled around the idea of finally adapting it to the small/big screen but to no avail.

"Foundation" for me is so much more than a series of books: it's definitely one of the more significant reading experiences of my life (maybe the MOST significant when it comes to novels, at least). From Hari Seldon (perfect casting choice, there, IMO) to Hober Mallow, Bel Riose, the Mule, Daneel Olivaw....they're all so imprinted and dear to my heart that I already find it difficult to digest how "clean" everything look versus the "raw" style of Asimov work, which is obviously rooted in that pre-moon landing, golden age era of sci-fi novels.

" He's so impatient, it's like watching a teenager fuck a glorious older woman." - Ironwood on J.J. Abrams
Reg
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Reply #1 on: June 23, 2020, 05:12:26 PM

I won't miss this one. Foundation was one of the first science fiction books I ever read (if not the first). I think it'd be best if they stopped the series at the third book (Second Foundation). After that they could do a Caves of Steel series to introduce R Daneel Olivaw. Then they'd have all the right parts to do the more modern Foundation sequels if they want.
Khaldun
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Reply #2 on: June 23, 2020, 05:25:34 PM

I will watch it. I'm not sure if I can think of a book series that more thrilled me as a teenager and more disappointed me on a reread as an adult. There's a fundamental storytelling problem that is hard to overcome and Asimov himself knew it (hence the Mule and the Second Foundation and then the really weak later books).

Edit:

Never mind, David Goyer is the principal. I'm out.
« Last Edit: June 23, 2020, 07:22:28 PM by Khaldun »
Soln
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the opportunity for evil is just delicious


Reply #3 on: June 24, 2020, 12:39:02 AM

But Jared Harris
Surlyboi
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eat a bag of dicks


Reply #4 on: June 24, 2020, 03:11:03 AM

While you're subscribed to AppleTV+ for this, catch For All Mankind, See and Little America as well.

No, I'm not getting paid for the plugs outside of my stock options.

Tuned in, immediately get to watch cringey Ubisoft talking head offering her deepest sympathies to the families impacted by the Orlando shooting while flanked by a man in a giraffe suit and some sort of "horrifically garish neon costumes through the ages" exhibit or something.  We need to stop this fucking planet right now and sort some shit out. -Kail
slog
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Reply #5 on: June 24, 2020, 06:38:30 AM

This looks pretty awful.  The Foundation series just doesn't translate to TV unless you completely tear up the original story and just keep the title for marketing like they did for World War Z.

"Die of flaming ass cancer you schmuck. No really, die."

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Reg
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Reply #6 on: June 24, 2020, 07:22:18 AM

I'm assuming all of that trailer was scenes from Trantor. If the later stories look like that then they've definitely fucked up.
Teleku
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Reply #7 on: June 24, 2020, 09:09:30 AM

This looks pretty awful.  The Foundation series just doesn't translate to TV unless you completely tear up the original story and just keep the title for marketing like they did for World War Z.
Err, why would you say that?  I can easily see them translating the first few books into good stuff.  Going too far away from the original story is actually the thing I worry most about them fucking up.
I'm assuming all of that trailer was scenes from Trantor. If the later stories look like that then they've definitely fucked up.
It seemed pretty obvious to me all the city shots and major buildings were meant to be Trantor, and the wild outdoor stuff likely Terminus.  It was just a lot of short little clips though, so not much to go on, but I didn't see anything that seemed out of place in all that.

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slog
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Reply #8 on: June 25, 2020, 02:26:18 PM

This looks pretty awful.  The Foundation series just doesn't translate to TV unless you completely tear up the original story and just keep the title for marketing like they did for World War Z.
Err, why would you say that?  I can easily see them translating the first few books into good stuff.  Going too far away from the original story is actually the thing I worry most about them fucking up.


Granted it's been 30 years since I've read the books, but the Foundation short stories were not a great setting for an action movie or TV Show.  They were about how inaction was key. 

"Die of flaming ass cancer you schmuck. No really, die."

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Khaldun
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Reply #9 on: June 25, 2020, 05:09:13 PM

I think that's kind of right and why it's really not a very good series in retrospect, especially for adaptation in another medium.

In a funny way, it's an anti-tragedy. In a Shakespearean tragedy, you go in knowing: everything is going to turn out the worse for nearly everybody and it will be because the protagonist has a fundamental flaw that he just cannot overcome even if we are in tension hoping he will. In a Greek tragedy, even worse: the protagonist will know what the tragic outcome is and struggle to avoid it, to no avail.

In Foundation, the prime mover of the overall story sees a tragedy coming, envisions a way to shorten the suffering involved, sets a clockwork plan in motion, and succeeds by the end of the first section of the first book. By the middle of the first book, we have affirmation that he has in fact succeeded--that the likeable, talented character we get to know wins out not because he is likeable and talented but because he is the beneficiary of a plan set in motion before he ever showed up. By the end of the first part of the second book, we learn that even a talented and rather sympathetic antagonist has no chance against the plan. It's all set.

Then the Mule shows up and contingency re-enters the story. It's like the third act of a tragedy: maybe Oedipus will beat the prediction! He seems pretty happy in his new marriage! Maybe Macbeth will actually win out! He's a pretty good king, fuck that Macduff guy. Maybe Hamlet will stop whining and rip his uncle a new asshole!

Here it's "maybe the Plan can be beaten!" I kind of suspect most people are really rooting for the Mule, honestly--both because he actually has some sympathetic pathos to him (he's like an incel, almost) and because at least he adds some dramatic tension back into a story that has lost it. But the Mule also reveals that the only actual protagonist of the whole trilogy is the Seldon Plan. Not Seldon, not any character, but the Plan. It's like rooting for a blueprint or for a Soviet ministry to meet its five-year quota on wheat production. When the Second Foundation wins it's really kind of depressing. It's not even clear what kind of future stable empire Seldon hoped they'd make such that it's something we should root for--an empire controlled by a hidden cabal of telepaths who crush any threat to stability? Wow, sign me up, I hope they win.

Asimov tried to walk some of this back in the later books--he tried to make an actual moral debate about the Plan, he tried to explain why the galaxy is devoid of any other intelligent life, and eventually he tried to make Seldon himself a more conflicted figure with a connection to his Baley and Olivaw books. (I assume this series is not going to even try to make Seldon influenced by an ancient telepathic robot, but we'll see.)
Khaldun
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Reply #10 on: June 25, 2020, 06:46:06 PM

Huh, they are actually going to have R. Daneel Olivaw as a character (in his guise as Demerzel). That seems like a big mistake, but who knows.
Typhon
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Reply #11 on: June 25, 2020, 07:11:23 PM

Everyone Many here are saying they are excited for this story, but my vague memory was that the original protagonist comes up with magic science that he uses to create an unstoppable plan and tedium ensues.  I found it unbelievable, joyless and, well, tedious.

I thought maybe I read it too young, or maybe reading it after all the Niven stuff, which I really liked, made me an unsympathetic audience.

Reading your synopsis makes me laugh and realize, "nope!, I'm just not a fan".  Can't hold a candle to Childhood's End, but I guess that is just too strange to make a movie about?  Or maybe all the Rapture cults make that untouchable.
Khaldun
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Reply #12 on: June 25, 2020, 07:23:23 PM

There is actually a pretty decent adaptation of Childhood's End that aired on SYFY in the US that tries to deal with some of the challenges the original content presents

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt4146128/
« Last Edit: June 25, 2020, 10:11:57 PM by Khaldun »
Surlyboi
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Reply #13 on: June 25, 2020, 11:34:34 PM

That Childhood's End adaption was indeed solid.

Tuned in, immediately get to watch cringey Ubisoft talking head offering her deepest sympathies to the families impacted by the Orlando shooting while flanked by a man in a giraffe suit and some sort of "horrifically garish neon costumes through the ages" exhibit or something.  We need to stop this fucking planet right now and sort some shit out. -Kail
Abagadro
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Reply #14 on: June 26, 2020, 12:11:32 AM

Never a big Asimov fan, but it is definitely time for a Bester-sance.

"As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.

-H.L. Mencken
Teleku
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Reply #15 on: June 26, 2020, 01:18:51 AM

Interesting!  I guess maybe I'm in the minority here.  I loved the entire plan aspect of the story, and enjoyed watching it unfold story by story.  Each individual story itself (Beyond the very first 1 or 2) basically played out like a Star Wars space adventure.  The super advanced foundation running into issues as they try to stay hidden and guide a collapsing civilization behind the scenes like the Illuminati.  I liked following how the empire collapsed, the stages it went through, and the ways foundation interacted with it.  The Mule was actually the part I hated the most.  I didn't want somebody fucking up the plan and making random pointless story shit, I wanted to see the clean evolution of galactic civilization from collapse to rebirth!

Mind you, I never actually read the last book or two (And I recall being told they weren't great), but it's not hard for me to imagine they could make a fun TV show about space Illuminati manipulating an empire as it goes through epic changes.

"My great-grandfather did not travel across four thousand miles of the Atlantic Ocean to see this nation overrun by immigrants.  He did it because he killed a man back in Ireland. That's the rumor."
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lamaros
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Reply #16 on: June 26, 2020, 01:35:24 AM

I stopped watched the trailer after it turned into sucking Apple's dick about 10 seconds in. I'm sure it's really relevant to the show and the show will be amazing, though.

I have nothing to contribute here.

Expect poison from the standing water.
Khaldun
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Reply #17 on: June 26, 2020, 11:03:11 AM

I think at a minimum to increase some sense of dramatic tension, they've got to have the Second Foundation in view from the beginning.

You'd think maybe the Mule too but the problem with introducing him from the outset is then you completely wreck the big surprise about who he actually is, plus of course this is a story that takes place over centuries, so you really can't have him in the early years of Terminus.
Reg
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Reply #18 on: June 26, 2020, 11:49:10 AM

Doing any of those things would stray so far from the books that I'd hate it. I mean Terminus existed for hundreds of years before the Mule or Second Foundation even became issues. And the Second Foundation didn't have mind control powers at the very beginning either.
Khaldun
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Reply #19 on: June 26, 2020, 12:37:32 PM

Well, they sort of did, if you've read the sequels Asimov wrote much later that were intended to deal with the weakness of the original trilogy and to unite Asimov's Robot books with the Foundation books--we end up finding out that the Second Foundation's purpose from the beginning was to learn and reproduce Olivaw's ability to read and influence thoughts, and that Seldon saw from the outset that psychohistory would absolutely have to have some mechanism to provide adjustments and course corrections to the Seldon Plan and that only some form of secret and telepathic group could really do that.

I do think that even when the dust settles after those books, Asimov (and through him Seldon) never really supply any vision of a *good society* other than a good society is politically stable and at the largest scales possible. It's not at all clear that the First Galactic Empire even at its height is a particularly "good" society for many of its members--indeed for some worlds, it's always been a cruel kind of tyrannical overlord. Seldon never really imagines that he's improving on that, just reproducing it. It's as if a philosopher in the reign of Claudius or Nero looked ahead and said, "Rome will last 400 years or so and then the Western Empire will fall, and it will be a thousand years after that before the West rises to power again, I want that to happen faster" without paying much attention to whether the Roman Empire is a particularly good society or without addressing whether the rise of Western Europe whenever it is will be a good thing either.

I think that's all down to Asimov's basic weaknesses as a writer--his stuff lacks a kind of emotional richness, for the most part. Over time the most sophisticated thing he did in that way was the relationship between Elijah Baley and Gladia. His characters are sometimes memorable; the formalism of his plots and his plotting concepts are often really good. But there's a soul missing in a lot of it.
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Reply #20 on: June 26, 2020, 04:42:16 PM

Interesting!  I guess maybe I'm in the minority here.  I loved the entire plan aspect of the story, and enjoyed watching it unfold story by story.  Each individual story itself (Beyond the very first 1 or 2) basically played out like a Star Wars space adventure.  The super advanced foundation running into issues as they try to stay hidden and guide a collapsing civilization behind the scenes like the Illuminati.  I liked following how the empire collapsed, the stages it went through, and the ways foundation interacted with it.  The Mule was actually the part I hated the most.  I didn't want somebody fucking up the plan and making random pointless story shit, I wanted to see the clean evolution of galactic civilization from collapse to rebirth!

Mind you, I never actually read the last book or two (And I recall being told they weren't great), but it's not hard for me to imagine they could make a fun TV show about space Illuminati manipulating an empire as it goes through epic changes.

There's a reason you work for the government dude. Just saying.

I felt the same, I hated the Mule but I also got pretty bored pretty quickly at an age where I was reading things so fast it was hard to get bored probably for some of the reasons Khaldun is saying.

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Khaldun
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Reply #21 on: June 26, 2020, 06:34:04 PM

Yeah, once the Mule v. several sets of antagonists starts rolling along I was like, "I have no side in this", because again, the only real character is Seldon's Plan and it's hard to see why it would be better if the Plan wins vs. the Mule ruling the Galaxy as a warlord.
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Reply #22 on: June 27, 2020, 07:52:51 AM

I think at a minimum to increase some sense of dramatic tension, they've got to have the Second Foundation in view from the beginning.

You'd think maybe the Mule too but the problem with introducing him from the outset is then you completely wreck the big surprise about who he actually is, plus of course this is a story that takes place over centuries, so you really can't have him in the early years of Terminus.
Ehhh, this would ruin a lot of the potential dramatic arcs I think.  You have two major oh shit moments in the first books.  The mule wrecking "the plan", and then "oh shit, another foundation out there doing its thing."  Those are two things they can reorder and use for dramatic effect very effectively in the series.  Second Foundation being a thing should be held back as a season ending cliffhanger/reveal as 'First' Foundation gets fucked.  They should actually work to keep the overall plot as isolated as possible, each episode opening up an other layer, as both the viewers and the characters of the era desperately try to figure out whats going on.

And while I'm loath to ever encourage heavy adaptation of a book, it may be needed in this case.  A lot of the complaints you guys mention can again be mitigated by playing up the aspect of a secret advanced civilization trying to manipulate space barbarians though the ages.  It's sort of like taking all the Star Trek Prime Directive episodes, and tweaking them.  You absolutely are fucking with civilizations, but you still want to hide the fact you're doing it at all costs, and it's for their own good.  Lots of room for space adventure and pew pew instead of just dry theoretical plotting.  That alone is a fun basis for any sci-fi series, let alone one with so many books to draw from like Foundation.

But as Hoax says, I work for the man, so maybe I'm more sympathetic to a group of smart people smacking dumber people until they get better.   why so serious?

"My great-grandfather did not travel across four thousand miles of the Atlantic Ocean to see this nation overrun by immigrants.  He did it because he killed a man back in Ireland. That's the rumor."
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Khaldun
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Reply #23 on: June 27, 2020, 08:36:13 AM

Except ultimately the secret advanced civilization fucking over the barbarians is doing it because of a plan they can't control and aren't responsible for. There is a fun scene, I admit, in the first book where Seldon's holoimage appears for the first time and the Foundation folks find out that they are destined to always win, and then that plays out a few more times where it's on the edge of the Foundation being basically a kind of religious civilization that just so happens to actually have God on its side. But it also means that the likeable Foundation leaders we meet who are protagonists in some sense are by their own admission completely unimportant and have nothing to do with how events unfold. It's as if the Enterprise shows up, Kirk does some Shatner-speaking and bangs a green-skinned lady, and then Spock informs the locals on the planet below that will be joining the Federation no matter what because it's been predicted and it turns out Spock is completely right and it doesn't really matter what the Enterprise does or doesn't do. It doesn't even matter if people know there IS a Plan, they can't stop it. Funny or interesting once, but not for very long. Even Asimov knew that, hence the introduction of the Mule and the reintroduction of the possibility that the Plan can be defeated.
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Reply #24 on: June 30, 2020, 06:22:27 PM

Based on the trailer, this looks to me like it's is adapting Prelude to Foundation first.
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Reply #25 on: June 30, 2020, 06:23:38 PM

Seems like they're going to use some of it, since they've cast Demerzel/Olivaw.
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