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Isaac Asimov’s ‘Foundation’ Series HBO-Bound

Sci-fi master’s 1950s cosmological books will be adapted for the network

Stephanie Butnick
November 10, 2014
(Isaac Asimov)

Isaac Asimov’s 1950s Foundation series is headed for HBO thanks to Jonathan Nolan, Interstellar screenwriter and brother of Christopher, who is adapting the seven-part book series for the network. The entire series earned a spot on our 101 Great Jewish Books list; Matthew Fishbane described it as “a cosmological multitome text about a vast plan to shorten a coming intergalactic 30,000-year dark age to a mere millennium, thanks to a secluded priesthood of ‘Encyclopedists’ tasked with preserving all human knowledge. (Things don’t go as planned.)”

It’s a premise that’s practically begging for cinematic treatment. Still, the complex storyline and otherworldly material so pivotal to the series may not be sustainable in the hands of someone other than Asimov. As Fishbane wrote, “Only the Russian-born Jewish Mensa/humanist biochemist turned sci-fi master—Isaak Yudovich Ozimov, later Asimov, namesake of a crater on Mars—had the psychic loom sturdy enough to hold the warp and weft of such a staggering fabric.”

Nolan seems to think himself up for the challenge. “Go back and read those,” he’s said of the series, “and there are some ideas in those that’ll set your fucking hair on fire.

Stephanie Butnick is chief strategy officer of Tablet Magazine, co-founder of Tablet Studios, and a host of the Unorthodox podcast.