One of the most influential science fiction tales of all time was recorded in the Foundation Trilogy (later expanded to the Foundation Series with two prequels and two sequels) by the prolific author Isaac Asimov. The overall premise of these stories is adequately captured by the Wikipedia as follows:
In the waning days of a future Galactic Empire, the mathematician Hari Seldon spends his life developing a theory of psychohistory, a new and effective mathematical sociology. Using statistical laws of mass action, it can predict the future of large populations. Seldon foresees the imminent fall of the Empire, which encompasses the entire Milky Way, and a dark age lasting 30,000 years before a second empire arises. Although the inertia of the Empire’s fall is too great to stop, Seldon devises a plan by which “the onrushing mass of events must be deflected just a little” to eventually limit this interregnum to just one thousand years. To implement his plan, Seldon creates the Foundations — two groups of scientists and engineers settled at opposite ends of the galaxy — to preserve the spirit of science and civilization, and thus become the cornerstones of the new galactic empire.
I first read the original trilogy — Foundation, Foundation and Empire, and Second Foundation — as a young lad, and I’ve revisited it many times since those far-off days. My head is jam-packed with the visions Asimov painted of the future, including the countless worlds forming the Galactic Empire. Also, the fact that the Empire has already started its fall when Sheldon appears on the scene, but no one sees this (apart from Sheldon) because the Empire is so vast.
One of the iconic Foundation book covers (Click image to see a larger version)
In particular, I think of the planet Trantor, which is the home of the Emperor and the capital of the Empire. With the exception of the Imperial Palace and its grounds, the entire surface of Trantor was covered by an enormous metropolis (an ecumenopolis) that stretched high in the sky and deep underground, and was home to a population of 45 billion human inhabitants, all of whom were involved in the administration of the Empire or with the maintenance of the planet itself. Something else that stuck in my mind was the Library of Trantor (variously referred to as the Imperial Library, the University of Trantor Library, and the Galactic Library), in which librarians strived to index the entirety of human knowledge by walking up to a different computer terminal every day and resuming where the previous librarian left off. By the end of the second book in the trilogy, the Empire has fallen, and we revisit Trantor, which is — by this time — largely deserted. Can you imagine walking through that library or exploring the ecumenopolis? The reason I’m waffling on about this here is that, yesterday evening, I was idly glancing at the offerings from my various streaming services. On Apple TV+ I saw an image of a gray structure superimposed with the single word “Foundation.” All I can say is that a shiver ran up and down my spine and the hairs on my head stood to attention. Could this possibly be the Foundation, or were my hopes destined to be dashed to discover a program on home repair? (I recall a professor having unexpected success several decades ago with a book titled “How to Hold Up a Bank.” It seems that most of the purchasers neglected to read the subtitle, which was “A Study in Soil Erosion.”) So, I had a quick Google while no one was looking. OMG! It’s true! Production is currently suspended due to COVID-19, but Apple are predicting that the first 10-part series will premier sometime in 2021. I can barely contain my excitement. I only hope they don’t bugger it up. I really think they should hire my services as a “Subject Matter Expert” to make sure that this is as good as it can be. What say you? Am I alone in my excitement, or are you with me on this one?