Apple to develop Isaac Asimov’s classic Foundation novels into a new video drama series

Isaac Asimov’s Foundation novels remain in print, decades later. (Random House image)

The classic Foundation trilogy is the latest science-fiction property to be adapted for a video series, and this time it’s Apple developing the project.

After competitive bidding, Apple landed the deal to turn Isaac Asimov’s sprawling saga into a drama series in news first reported by Deadline. Skydance Television, which also is responsible for the series Altered Carbon on Netflix, picked up the rights to the trilogy from the Asimov estate last June.

The Foundation trilogy was first published in the early 1950s and included the books Foundation, Foundation and Empire, and Second Foundation. The stories revolved around mathematician Hari Seldon, who had developed the discipline of “psychohistory” that could predict societal developments on a large scale. Seldon foresees the coming fall of the Galactic Empire and its potential replacement after an intervening dark age. As a result, the Foundation is created to both limit the dark age and preserve humanity’s knowledge.

The original trilogy was followed years later by four more Foundation books from Asimov, as well as a new Foundation trilogy written by authors Greg Bear, David Brin and Gregory Benford.

Isaac Asimov’s typewriter in MoPOP’s Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame. (Photo by Frank Catalano)

Foundation is said to be on a straight-to-series track at Apple with David S. Goyer and Josh Friedman as the showrunners and executive producers. Goyer is known for writing work on The Dark Knight and Batman Begins, among others, and Friedman has credits for Avatar 2 and the War of the Worlds remake. Foundation would join other science-fiction shows currently in development at Apple including a re-boot of the Stephen Spielberg 1980’s anthology series Amazing Stories.

Apple’s project to put Foundation on screen isn’t the first. Deadline cites earlier efforts that died in various stages at Fox, Warner Bros, Sony and HBO.

But the novels have had influence within science fiction and even science and technology decades after their original publication. Entrepreneur Elon Musk has said the Asimov novels were one inspiration for his career, and included a digital “data crystal” copy of the trilogy with the Tesla Roadster and its Starman in February’s SpaceX Falcon Heavy launch.

Apple continues to develop more video content as it competes with other giants like Netflix, Amazon, and HBO. It is reportedly investing $1 billion this year on original programming; that number will grow to $4.2 billion in 2022, according to some estimates.

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