Emmerich To Direct Foundation

Asimov's sci-fi classic headed to screen

Here's a story to file firmly in the, "wait, whaaaa?" category: Roland Emmerich is set to direct Foundation, the first of Isaac Asimov's books about the collapse of a galactic civilisation and the single planet that may hold the key to rebuilding it.

The book's a science fiction classic, but one not heavy on the explosions or giant lizards or sabretooth tigers that are the usual hallmark of the Emmerich metier. The story is hinged around the development of something called "psychohistory", a cross between sociology and mathematics that makes it possible to predict the path that a civilisation will take.

The founder of this science, Hari Seldon, foresees the collapse of the galactic empire of his day, and establishes a colony on a planet called Terminus. This outpost is supposedly to compile an Encyclopaedia Galactica that will preserve technology and history through the dark ages, but in fact serves as an experiment in psychohistory, a planet whose very existence will change the destiny of the kingdoms around it as the empire collapses. The first novel, essentially a collection of short stories, sees Terminus weather the first 175 years of its existence - but there's a whole series of books in the series, including a slightly more action-y prequel and another on the second planetary colony that preserves the secrets of psychohistory itself.

It's probably fair to say that it's not the most Emmerich-y science fiction ever written, but it fits in nicely with his apocalyptic visions (99% of civilisation collapses; a few brave souls fight back) at least. And it is one of Asimov's stronger and more intriguing ideas even though, as he often did, he milked it dry over the series of sequels.

Emmerich's currently working on 2012, another vision of the apocalypse, but there's no writer yet attached to this adaptation so we've got some breathing room before we see it. Watch this space for further developments.