On the occasion of the launch of the serial adaptation by AppleTV +, a look back at the influence of the “Foundation Cycle”, a true reference in science fiction literature by Isaac Asimov.
For a long time, the Foundation cycle by Isaac Asimov was considered an unsuitable work, due to its complexity and narrative density. For years, however, film adaptation projects have been developed (notably by filmmakers Roland Emmerich and Jonathan Nolan), without success. And it was finally on television that the Foundation’s adaptation project was finally able to succeed; with the Foundation series broadcast on AppleTV +.
The Foundation saga was born in the early 1950s, with the publication of several short stories in the journal Astounding Science Fiction ; this American magazine of reference (still in publication today, under the title of Analog Science Fiction and Fact) greatly contributed to the popularization of science fiction, with contributions from authors considered major such as HP Lovecraft (The Hallucinated Mountains), Frank Herbert (Dune) or George RR Martin (Game Of Thrones).
Faced with the success of this news, the publisher Gnome Press decides to bring them together to form a first novel Foundation published in 1951, followed by two other works: Foundation and Empire (1952) and Second Foundation (1953). Thus was born the Foundation cycle, name given to Asimov’s saga exploring the future of a humanity governed by a new form of science designed to anticipate the future.
Two more Cycles to complete Foundation
Prolific author (more than 500 books to his credit!), Isaac Asimov then continued the expansion of his universe Foundation in parallel with its other work; among his most famous works, let us quote in particular the Empire and Robot Cycles, two sagas exploring the same universe – albeit at an earlier time – of the Foundation novels.
Thirty years after the publication of the first books Foundation, Asimov decides to follow up his trilogy; a first novel entitled Blasted foundation appeared in 1982, followed four years later by a second book, Earth and Foundation (1986).
To conclude the Foundation cycle, the American author designs two new novels set before the events of the original trilogy: Prelude to Foundation (1988) and Dawn of the Foundation (published posthumously in 1993, one year after Asimov’s death). The Cycle is therefore made up of seven novels, the meaning of which lends itself to interpretation. It is indeed possible to read them in order of publication, just as it is possible to follow the chronological order of the work.
Foundation, a major influence
The influence of Foundation cycle on science fiction, and popular culture more generally, is simply considerable. We can no longer count the number of authors, directors, designers and other artists claiming to be the work of Asimov.
Among the most famous tributes, the Star Wars saga by George Lucas (another example of a Cycle developed without taking into account the chronological order of its plot) or even countless more or less direct references in the Battlestar Galactica series, Star Trek (of which Asimov was a fan) or Stargate SG-1.
Asimov’s work has been adapted three times for the cinema: Death of the Three Suns (1988) by Paul Mayersberg (based on the short story When the darkness comes), The Bicentennial Man (1999) by Chris Columbus (based on the eponymous short story) and I, Robot (2004) by Alex Proyas (loosely based on the Robot Cycle novel).
Awarded with numerous prestigious awards, the Foundation cycle notably obtained the title (inevitably unique) of “Best series of all time” by the Hugo Prize academy in 1966, which rewards each year the best works of science fiction and fantasy.
It remains to be seen whether the series Foundation, adapted by David S. Goyer (The dark knight) and broadcast every week on AppleTV +, will live up to the work of Isaac Asimov …