Saturday, October 02, 2021

The Entertainment Industry Never Seems to Play it Very Straight with Asimov

I, Robot was a fun movie, but it wasn't really an adaptation of Isaac Asimov's work.

On the basis of watching the first episode*, I can at least report that Apple TV+'s Foundation seems to actually be an adaptation, but it throws in a bunch of elements that don't, to the best of my recollection, appear in the original novels and if there's a reason for those elements other than "we want to tell stories other than Asimov's," I can't tell what that reason might be.

Instead of an emperor, the Galactic Empire is ruled a rotating triumvirate of clones, "the genetic dynasty." There's always a young one, an adult one, and an old one.

Instead of being the uber-bureaucrat mayor of nuclear-powered Terminus City, in conflict with a publicly known Foundation Board of Trustees Salvor Hardin is apparently the "warden" of a hardscrabble planet with a population that stands in awe of, and may not approach, a monolith that's presumably the Time Vault (a central and known feature of publicly semi-understood work in the books).

I did like the first episode, but I was forlornly hoping for a more straight-line adaptation, even if such an adaptation would seem anachronistic given that Asimov was writing in the 1950s and it shows.

* I am not an Apple TV+ subscriber. I'm thinking I might become one, based in large part on Foundation. Fortunately, one can install the Apple TV+ app on Roku devices, and the service seems to allow non-payers to watch the first episodes of all or most of its series.

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