Originally published as a series of eight short stories in Astounding Magazine in the late 1940s, Isaac Asimov's Foundation series became best-known as a trilogy of fixup novels, published between 1951 and 1953 by Gnome Press in the USA. Asimov had developed the concept along with infamous SF uber-editor John W. Campbell and was inspired by Gibbon's Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire. The initial stories chronicled the fall of the ancient Galactic Empire and the galaxy's descent into chaos, with the twin 'Foundations' established by psycho-historian Hari Seldon to guide humanity to the rise of a new empire a thousand years later. The trilogy only covered four centuries of this period before Asimov ran out of inspiration for future stories and decided to turn his attentions elsewhere.
The trilogy went on to become one of SF's most popular and well-known sagas, arguably outstripped only by Frank Herbert's Dune series, and won the one and only 'Best Series' Hugo Award in 1966 (an award that Asimov believed had purely been invented to retroactively honour The Lord of the Rings and was flabbergasted when he won instead). Asimov eventually returned to the series in the 1980s, penning the fourth and fifth books, Foundation's Edge in 1981 and Foundation and Earth in 1986, before writing two sequels, Prelude to Foundation (1989) and Forward the Foundation, the latter finished just before his death in 1992. Asimov also, perhaps ill-advisedly given the resulting continuity issues, combined the Foundation universe with his Robots books to create one enormous future history spanning some 20,000 years.
The Foundation books are noted for being heavy on sociological musings, stern-faced characters discussing matters of import, historical ponderings, awkward romances and occasional, long-distance space battles. Obviously this makes them the ideal source material to be turned into a trilogy of CGI-drenched 3D space opera extravaganzas featuring slow-motion explosions and (probably) cute dogs by the understated and subtle film-maker Roland Emmerich, the director of such arty flicks as Independence Day, Godzilla, The Day After Tomorrow and the recent 2012.
Okay, it could be worse. It could have been Uwe Boll. In every other respect, this is the most inappropriate matching-up of director and source material I have ever come across. This is a disaster in the making, and it only remains to be seen just how bad the end result is. Maybe Emmerich will surprise us with a film that is halfway-watchable, but I seriously doubt it. What next? Tony Scott's Book of the New Sun? Michael Bay's The Stars My Destination?