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(Gizmodo)   For the longest time they said Isaac Asimov's "Foundation" couldn't be filmed. They're still right   (gizmodo.com) divider line
    More: Fail, Hugo Award, Isaac Asimov, Foundation series, Second Foundation, Foundation and Earth, Robots and Empire, Yugo Amaryl, The Caves of Steel  
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2641 clicks; posted to Entertainment » on 24 Sep 2021 at 9:05 AM (10 weeks ago)   |   Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook



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2021-09-24 8:58:12 AM  
Well, it could be filmed, but not in a way that would stay true to the actual story while, at the same time, making it appealing to a larger, mainstream audience that's never read (or possibly even heard of) the story. So, no, it really can't be filmed. It's got a similar problem to Dune, just bigger.
 
2021-09-24 9:04:43 AM  
The "problem" with the entire Foundation series is that nothing really happens. All the major conflicts are either averted through psychohistory or utterly disrupted by The Mule. It's a brilliant series, but doesn't translate well to visuals and action sequences.
 
2021-09-24 9:16:48 AM  
Having never read the books, I wonder if I will enjoy the series because I won't be constantly comparing it to source material.

I'll watch Jared Harris in anything, even the silly TV movie where he was John Lennon to Aiden Quinn's Paul McCartney.
 
2021-09-24 9:21:22 AM  
Books rarely translate well into live action formats.  You have to expect that changes will be made to allow for time and budget limitations.  We'll have to see how the final product turns out, the initial trailers seem promising.
 
2021-09-24 9:25:21 AM  

Pocket Ninja: Well, it could be filmed, but not in a way that would stay true to the actual story while, at the same time, making it appealing to a larger, mainstream audience that's never read (or possibly even heard of) the story. So, no, it really can't be filmed. It's got a similar problem to Dune, just bigger.


I think Dune can be filmed. It just can't be condensed into movies. It needs to be a TV production on par with Game of Thrones.
 
2021-09-24 9:28:43 AM  
I always wanted to take a crack at reading the Foundation series, but there were so many spinoffs and stories that I didn't know which order I should read them in.  In the order they were published?  In the order that the books take place?  Does it matter?  Then I get confused and depressed.
 
2021-09-24 9:32:05 AM  

CarnySaur: I always wanted to take a crack at reading the Foundation series, but there were so many spinoffs and stories that I didn't know which order I should read them in.  In the order they were published?  In the order that the books take place?  Does it matter?  Then I get confused and depressed.


I tried to read it when I was young and then found out my county library didn't even have all the books.

Also, why is anyone trusting the Suicide Squad guy with anything ever?
 
2021-09-24 9:33:33 AM  
The Earth is becoming Trantor in very real ways.
Large-scale greenhouse complexes are covering more and more orchards, croplands, and even grazing fields.
Global garbage is almost at the point where it could actually be hauled away by space barges.
 
2021-09-24 9:33:41 AM  
Yeah, Fark predicted this.
 
2021-09-24 9:34:11 AM  

NeoCortex42: I think Dune can be filmed. It just can't be condensed into movies. It needs to be a TV production on par with Game of Thrones.


I'd agree with that in general -- an extended television series is really the only possible way to accurately film something of that scope. But I still think capturing the immensity of the story would be a challenge. There would be a lot of temptation to take shortcuts. But the instinct always seems to be "movie" for stuff like this, even when a movie's format is woefully inadequate to the task. World War Z was a good example of this, an utterly failed attempt to capture a complex, multi-faceted story into a movie's restricted format that ended up being completely incapable of holding it in any way that was coherent/faithful to the original story. That could have been a spectacular series. It was a travesty of a film.
 
2021-09-24 9:41:09 AM  
It has Jared Harris, therefore I will watch it.
 
2021-09-24 9:41:36 AM  
Yeah, I knew it was going to be crap just seeing the trailer.
 
2021-09-24 9:43:09 AM  

CarnySaur: I always wanted to take a crack at reading the Foundation series, but there were so many spinoffs and stories that I didn't know which order I should read them in.  In the order they were published?  In the order that the books take place?  Does it matter?  Then I get confused and depressed.


Just read the 1st 3 books by Asimov.
 
2021-09-24 9:45:59 AM  
I had planned to re-read the Foundation series (haven't read it since high school) so as to be ready for this show. I guess now I'll just revisit the books and let them play out in my head.
 
2021-09-24 9:46:58 AM  

CarnySaur: I always wanted to take a crack at reading the Foundation series, but there were so many spinoffs and stories that I didn't know which order I should read them in.  In the order they were published?  In the order that the books take place?  Does it matter?  Then I get confused and depressed.


If you read the original trilogy (Foundation, Foundation and Empire, Second Foundation) in that order, you get the basic story. Any of the other books and spinoffs can be read in any order after that.

Warning: the original 3 books mainly consist of people sitting around talking about what happened, rather than Asimov actually showing what happens. It does get a bit better as the story goes on.
 
2021-09-24 9:49:53 AM  

Tyrone Slothrop: CarnySaur: I always wanted to take a crack at reading the Foundation series, but there were so many spinoffs and stories that I didn't know which order I should read them in.  In the order they were published?  In the order that the books take place?  Does it matter?  Then I get confused and depressed.

Just read the 1st 3 books by Asimov.


A warning, though: as stated above, nothing actually happens in the books. They can be summarized as "there's a threat to the heros, which is resoved by things out of their control. Then a recording of Hari Seldon comes on and says "I knew that would happen.""

\also, Asimov couldn't write believable characters if his life depended on it.
 
2021-09-24 9:53:40 AM  
Asimov was not the right kind of writer for direct adaptation.  Fantastic Journey wasn't his, and arguably The Ugly Little Boy didn't work.

And look at what they did with that Will Smith movie to make it work on the screen.

He did a lot of characters rationally debating, not a lot of action or real tension.

Now, if you wanted to make a Twilight Zone-esque TV series based on George and Azazel, I can see that working.
 
2021-09-24 9:55:36 AM  
There are 8 books (9th and last goes on sale in November) in the "Expanse" series, each 3-4 inches thick, with dozens of three dimensional characters and first class world building, but the TV series did a decent job of capturing the main storylines and developing the core characters. Apple appears to have done the work in hiring a decent director and writers and not skimping on either the cast or the cinematography. I'll give it a watch.
 
2021-09-24 9:58:22 AM  

capn' fun: There are 8 books (9th and last goes on sale in November) in the "Expanse" series, each 3-4 inches thick, with dozens of three dimensional characters and first class world building, but the TV series did a decent job of capturing the main storylines and developing the core characters. Apple appears to have done the work in hiring a decent director and writers and not skimping on either the cast or the cinematography. I'll give it a watch.


It was a gamble - it was tough slogging through the initial introductions before you got to a point you cared about the characters.

I could have tuned out any time in the first season if there had been something else to watch.

Now I'd go out of my way to watch Bobbie or Amos.
 
2021-09-24 9:59:24 AM  

Unsung_Hero: Now I'd go out of my way to watch wash Bobbie


FTFM
 
2021-09-24 10:00:44 AM  

Tyrone Slothrop: Tyrone Slothrop: CarnySaur: I always wanted to take a crack at reading the Foundation series, but there were so many spinoffs and stories that I didn't know which order I should read them in.  In the order they were published?  In the order that the books take place?  Does it matter?  Then I get confused and depressed.

Just read the 1st 3 books by Asimov.

A warning, though: as stated above, nothing actually happens in the books. They can be summarized as "there's a threat to the heros, which is resoved by things out of their control. Then a recording of Hari Seldon comes on and says "I knew that would happen.""

\also, Asimov couldn't write believable characters if his life depended on it.


Not so sure about that, the I, Robot series turned a young bcroz into a Sci Fi reading machine in the 70's.
 
2021-09-24 10:00:49 AM  

NeoCortex42: Pocket Ninja: Well, it could be filmed, but not in a way that would stay true to the actual story while, at the same time, making it appealing to a larger, mainstream audience that's never read (or possibly even heard of) the story. So, no, it really can't be filmed. It's got a similar problem to Dune, just bigger.

I think Dune can be filmed. It just can't be condensed into movies. It needs to be a TV production on par with Game of Thrones.


Agreed, to a point. The problem is that the overarching story of the saga is disappointing, to put it gently. It's the rare case where a TV series loosely based on the books would have the potential to be exponentially better only using the core ideas and characters and building out a more cohesive story path.
 
2021-09-24 10:01:06 AM  
I read the first 3 when I was in elementary school I think. Or Jr. High. I was a voracious reader there for a while, and not too fussy. Then I read one of the sequels Asimov wrote that tied Foundation into his Robot universe 20 ore more years later and I hated it. The writing was desperately in need of an editor that could tell Asimov to scrap the filler and probably the whole dumb idea of making that improbable connection between story settings. Publishing changed some time in the 80s-90s and it became more profitable to print a crappy 600 page epic from a well known author than a well edited 250 page rendition of the same story. And people wonder why no one reads anymore.
 
2021-09-24 10:03:44 AM  

Unsung_Hero: It was a gamble - it was tough slogging through the initial introductions before you got to a point you cared about the characters.

I could have tuned out any time in the first season if there had been something else to watch.

Now I'd go out of my way to watch Bobbie or Amos.


As someone who absolutely loves that series on TV, I went back and started reading the books. I'm enjoying those too -- it's not really the writing that's top-notch (it's very serviceable writing, nothing to really complain about but nothing extraordinary, either), but the story is very well told. The books are long but not bloated, and they're extremely well plotted. But reading them has made me love the TV series even more, for two main reasons:

A) The series scripts have done a very impressive job of keeping everything that's really important in the books. Changes I've seen in the series are, so far, understandable and don't harm or meaningfully alter the story.

B) Having read how he's written, I now understand that the actor chosen to play Amos, who is easily my favorite character, was 100 percent perfect for that role. In fact, all the casting decisions were excellent. But especially Amos.
 
2021-09-24 10:07:40 AM  
Is there an example of a good movie or good television series about a story that covers hundreds or thousands of years? Most seem to focus on a tight time frame.

I'm almost done with the last book in the Hyperion series. And I would love to see a movie or TV adaption. But it has the same problem.
 
2021-09-24 10:07:50 AM  

SirDigbyChickenCaesar: Unsung_Hero: Now I'd go out of my way to watch wash Bobbie

FTFM


You do you, I'm so enthralled with the heroics and the frustrations she faces I never got to the "add to my celebrity hall pass list" part.

Good writing, good actress.
 
2021-09-24 10:08:00 AM  
I love Asimov's works, but he tends to be very dry and cerebral in the storytelling.

The most "action" series would be the Robots with Elijah Bailey and R. Daneel, but even that tends to be sci-fi detective noir. Even the sex scenes are deliberately passionless (with one exception)

When they redid I, Robot with Will Smith awhile back, everyone complained about the changes, but the original short story would have been a Black Mirror episode.

The cinematography looks excellent. I'm not shocked the folks expecting pew pew pew were disappointed at watching high brow University lectures and C-Span in space.
 
2021-09-24 10:08:54 AM  

Tyrone Slothrop: Tyrone Slothrop: CarnySaur: I always wanted to take a crack at reading the Foundation series, but there were so many spinoffs and stories that I didn't know which order I should read them in.  In the order they were published?  In the order that the books take place?  Does it matter?  Then I get confused and depressed.

Just read the 1st 3 books by Asimov.

A warning, though: as stated above, nothing actually happens in the books. They can be summarized as "there's a threat to the heros, which is resoved by things out of their control. Then a recording of Hari Seldon comes on and says "I knew that would happen.""

\also, Asimov couldn't write believable characters if his life depended on it.


This is sadly true.  Asimov was all about the science in science fiction.  The characters were merely vessels to show off the implications of the science and how it impacts the world/universe.  Foundation is his quintessential work in that the science comes right out and declares that individual characters don't matter at all.  Psychohistory is inevitable (or is it?).

Since most of Foundation is people yapping and fretting over what's going to happen and what just did happen, it really makes for a poor candidate for a live action dramatization.
 
2021-09-24 10:09:41 AM  
It's like Clarke's "Rendezvous with Rama". Epic doesn't even begin to describe this book. But because there are no battles with evil aliens, and no romantic conflicts, studios won't touch it with a ten foot pole.
 
2021-09-24 10:12:48 AM  
The story was originally written as short stories and novellas, and then later collected into 3 volumes.  Plus It spans centuries, which makes character continuity well-nigh impossible.  You've got the periodic hologram messages from Hari Seldon, and I guess you can do a bunch of flashbacks to Emperor Cleon talking to Hari and getting the project set up as a framing device.  And then I suppose you could expand the role of the robots and make it more obvious that they are in the background trying to pull strings (which Asimov didn't do until he was on his deathbed.)

But as soon as I read that they were turning the emperor into a family of clones, I said "uh-oh."
 
2021-09-24 10:29:49 AM  

Pointy Tail of Satan: It's like Clarke's "Rendezvous with Rama". Epic doesn't even begin to describe this book. But because there are no battles with evil aliens, and no romantic conflicts, studios won't touch it with a ten foot pole.


No romantic conflicts until things get weird near the end of Rama II.  It was really jarring and you could definitely see which parts Clarke wrote vs which parts Lee wrote.
 
2021-09-24 10:31:15 AM  

HallsOfMandos: Pointy Tail of Satan: It's like Clarke's "Rendezvous with Rama". Epic doesn't even begin to describe this book. But because there are no battles with evil aliens, and no romantic conflicts, studios won't touch it with a ten foot pole.

No romantic conflicts until things get weird near the end of Rama II.  It was really jarring and you could definitely see which parts Clarke wrote vs which parts Lee wrote.


Scratch that, I think all the weird breeding stuff happens in Garden of Rama not Rama II (been a hot minute since I read the series).
 
2021-09-24 10:33:57 AM  

Unsung_Hero: capn' fun: There are 8 books (9th and last goes on sale in November) in the "Expanse" series, each 3-4 inches thick, with dozens of three dimensional characters and first class world building, but the TV series did a decent job of capturing the main storylines and developing the core characters. Apple appears to have done the work in hiring a decent director and writers and not skimping on either the cast or the cinematography. I'll give it a watch.

It was a gamble - it was tough slogging through the initial introductions before you got to a point you cared about the characters.

I could have tuned out any time in the first season if there had been something else to watch.

Now I'd go out of my way to watch Bobbie or Amos.


Gods, you just reminded me how they did my boy Alex wrong. Now I'm sad and pissed.

And for the first season, if I weren't a damn nerd, I'd tune in just to listen to Shohreh Aghdashloo...
 
2021-09-24 10:52:01 AM  

State_College_Arsonist: Books rarely translate well into live action formats.  You have to expect that changes will be made to allow for time and budget limitations.  We'll have to see how the final product turns out, the initial trailers seem promising.


Yes, but certain books are far more amenable than others.  For instance, Game of Thrones read on the page as if it were an epic movie.  Yes, there was lots of ambiance and extraneous fluff that could be reduced to quick visuals, but for the best of the scenes (such as the Red Wedding), they were equally as impactful on page or on screen.  Foundation was most definitely not written that way.
 
2021-09-24 11:02:25 AM  
I really liked the first book, got about half way through the second before giving up. But when I saw David Goyer's name in the credits...

gifburg.comView Full Size
 
2021-09-24 11:11:14 AM  
Foundation is sci-fi, sure, but it's not a space shootemup.  If the director treated the material more like "My Dinner with Andre" and "The Missiles of October", he'd end up with a very long movie that's very boring to most people.  I'd love it, though.  It's about ideas, not space cowboys.
 
2021-09-24 11:11:28 AM  

Tyrone Slothrop: Tyrone Slothrop: CarnySaur: I always wanted to take a crack at reading the Foundation series, but there were so many spinoffs and stories that I didn't know which order I should read them in.  In the order they were published?  In the order that the books take place?  Does it matter?  Then I get confused and depressed.

Just read the 1st 3 books by Asimov.

A warning, though: as stated above, nothing actually happens in the books. They can be summarized as "there's a threat to the heros, which is resoved by things out of their control. Then a recording of Hari Seldon comes on and says "I knew that would happen.""

\also, Asimov couldn't write believable characters if his life depended on it.


So much this. It may be a classic, but I really disliked Foundation and couldn't read anything after it.
 
2021-09-24 11:14:31 AM  
Asimov was a conceptually excellent writer and a narratively horrible one.

Foundation is much stronger as an idea than as a story. As a story, it violates all kinds of things that make stories great -- including (as was already said) believable characters, conflict where there are actual stakes, good dialogue, a proper plot curve and so on.
 
2021-09-24 11:32:32 AM  

towatchoverme: Asimov was a conceptually excellent writer and a narratively horrible one.

Foundation is much stronger as an idea than as a story. As a story, it violates all kinds of things that make stories great -- including (as was already said) believable characters, conflict where there are actual stakes, good dialogue, a proper plot curve and so on.



Agreed the robot stories work better because because he lifted the stories from Sir Conan Doyle.
 
2021-09-24 11:36:31 AM  
Foundation is ironically a neat foundation from which to build an interesting modern TV show.

But you can't do it by faithfully following the material on the page. Especially the original trilogy. To make it interesting on a screen you'd have to show who and what the people on the page were talking about. Or do a completely new story set in the Foundation universe that's illustrative of the IP's core concepts.

Problem is not following the source material to the letter is an unacceptable sin in the eyes of the worst kind of fans.

Also, Asimov was really really unconsciously sexist. His women were smart and capable, but also did the cooking and got described in ways that are troublesome to a modern reading.
 
2021-09-24 11:37:22 AM  

mattj1984: Is there an example of a good movie or good television series about a story that covers hundreds or thousands of years? Most seem to focus on a tight time frame.

I'm almost done with the last book in the Hyperion series. And I would love to see a movie or TV adaption. But it has the same problem.


The mini series Centennial based on James Michener's book covers over 200 years.  It's 21 hours long ( 26 with commercials). It's an amazing show based on a great book.
 
2021-09-24 11:43:53 AM  

NeoCortex42: Pocket Ninja: Well, it could be filmed, but not in a way that would stay true to the actual story while, at the same time, making it appealing to a larger, mainstream audience that's never read (or possibly even heard of) the story. So, no, it really can't be filmed. It's got a similar problem to Dune, just bigger.

I think Dune can be filmed. It just can't be condensed into movies. It needs to be a TV production on par with Game of Thrones.


Ya, the book has to much politics and intrigue, to be properly condensed.  It would need at least 1 full season to get anything close to what is in the first book alone.
 
2021-09-24 11:44:25 AM  
Foundation has the same issue in adaptation that Dune has after the first book. Guiding the galaxy through prescience / psychohistory is a fun thought-game when reading, but it makes for terrible on-screen entertainment. Jumping forward in time with different characters is also jarring. It looks like Foundation is solving that by using an Eternal Emperor. I think both efforts are eventually doomed to mediocrity. Ideas that play well in your mind or spur discussions late at night aren't all that much fun to watch with a mouth full of popcorn.

How about we instead try out some other intellectual property that might have some legs to it.

-try out the Vorkosigan saga
-maybe take a shot at the Rama books
-perhaps even take a swing at Mountains of Madness
-Neuromancer might work now (yeah, they would just screw that up...)
-also, it really is time to do Stanger in a Strange Land
 
2021-09-24 11:48:30 AM  

madgonad: Foundation has the same issue in adaptation that Dune has after the first book. Guiding the galaxy through prescience / psychohistory is a fun thought-game when reading, but it makes for terrible on-screen entertainment. Jumping forward in time with different characters is also jarring. It looks like Foundation is solving that by using an Eternal Emperor. I think both efforts are eventually doomed to mediocrity. Ideas that play well in your mind or spur discussions late at night aren't all that much fun to watch with a mouth full of popcorn.


Fark user imageView Full Size
 
2021-09-24 11:49:34 AM  
The "Foundation" novels are awful. Absolute garbage. I've never understood the love for them. And, frankly, the fact that they are so revered by the science-fiction community is embarrassing.

Asimov was a terrible fiction writer. Great ideas, horrible execution.
 
2021-09-24 11:50:38 AM  

NeoCortex42: Pocket Ninja: Well, it could be filmed, but not in a way that would stay true to the actual story while, at the same time, making it appealing to a larger, mainstream audience that's never read (or possibly even heard of) the story. So, no, it really can't be filmed. It's got a similar problem to Dune, just bigger.

I think Dune can be filmed. It just can't be condensed into movies. It needs to be a TV production on par with Game of Thrones.


The new movie is great.
 
2021-09-24 11:57:22 AM  

capn' fun: There are 8 books (9th and last goes on sale in November) in the "Expanse" series, each 3-4 inches thick, with dozens of three dimensional characters and first class world building, but the TV series did a decent job of capturing the main storylines and developing the core characters.


I came into the TV version of The Expanse cold and totally loved it. I wonder if I might like this too, since I haven't read the books.
 
2021-09-24 12:40:23 PM  

Pointy Tail of Satan: It's like Clarke's "Rendezvous with Rama". Epic doesn't even begin to describe this book. But because there are no battles with evil aliens, and no romantic conflicts, studios won't touch it with a ten foot pole.


The main character has two wives (one on Earth, one on Mars), and is in a FWB relationship with the ship's doctor (who has big tits). You would think a studio could work with that.

Also, there are no sequels. Rama remains forever a mystery.
 
2021-09-24 12:46:22 PM  
The story goes that when Asimov was 'tricked' into writing another Foundation book by a publisher and a small piece of paper with a lot of zeros, he had to go back and re-read the original trilogy because it had been almost 40 years.

I still have my 1952 Book Club edition of the Foundation, it was the first book I ever purchased.  I wasn't planning on seeing the film(s) and the review clinched it.
 
2021-09-24 12:46:52 PM  
Hah, knew it was gonna be garbage.

*The guy who wrote Blade: Trinity, and Ghost Rider: Spirit of Whateverdaf*ck being involved should have been the tip off.
 
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