Paulie’s Perspective: Foundation (2021) Review

TV Series / Apple TV

Creators: Josh Friedman;  David S Goyer

Based on series of books by Isaac Asimov

Starring: Lou Llobell; Jared Harris; Lee Pace

Released on Fridays

The original trilogy of novels by Isaac Asimov were a collection of 8 short stories published in Astounding Magazine between May 1942 and 1950. According to Asimov, the premise was based on ideas from Edward Gibbon’s History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, and was invented on his way to meet with his editor John Campbell. Asimov wrote these early stories in his small West Philadelphia apartment when he was still working at the Philadelphia Naval Yard. 

The basic premise is a mathematician Hari Seldon spends his life developing a theory of psychohistory, a new and effective math. It predicts mass actions only, of many people. It cannot see patterns or tell the future of individuals, only mass civilizations. Hari uses his math and predicts the end of the all-encompassing Galactic Empire, and about 30,000 years of dark ages for all planets and all masses. Naturally the Empire despises this hypothesis, exiles him and tries to stop their collapse and the dark ages from happening. 

Although only 5 episodes in now, I can tell you what a great relief it is to follow a story as big as this. I mean, it covers many civilizations, many kinds of intelligent life, many planets, eco-systems, social commentary, governing bodies, it is just incredible. This is storytelling that stopped long ago. 

This is the kind of writing that is akin to Charles Dickens, deep, thick, thought provoking and heavy. There are no throwaways here, no one offs – every word, every action has a purpose and it is such a joy to experience this kind of storytelling again. 

This series is a cross between Star Wars, Planet Earth, and Game of Thrones. There are strategic moves being made by everyone, while exploring new planets and encountering new and dangerous creatures along the way. There is not much to go on, and people say it’s nothing like the books, which I have not read, but for what it is, it is worth the experience. There is so little of this kind of entertainment even available, it is good to see it done so well. 

Foundation is a quality show that has very rich material to draw from, much like Game of Thrones, I doubt it will disappoint after such a very fine start. I know Asimov continued writing this storyline for many years, with the last installment being in 1993. So this is a universe which was ever expanding and that he thoroughly enjoyed playing in, as we have the chance to do now.