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BBC adaptation of Isaac Asimov's Original Foundation Trilogy
December 11, 2011 8:55 AM   Subscribe

In 1973, the BBC aired an adaptation of Isaac Asimov's original Foundation trilogy, in eight one-hour parts. It is freely downloadable (or streamable) here.
posted by SpacemanStix (24 comments total) 90 users marked this as a favorite

 
Awesome. Very neat.
posted by Saxon Kane at 8:59 AM on December 11, 2011


Harry Seldon lives exhibits a creepy tendency to project his influence down through the ages as if he were alive.
posted by JHarris at 9:02 AM on December 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


Great find, thanks.
posted by Huck500 at 9:02 AM on December 11, 2011


I look forward to this reenactment. Good times.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 9:15 AM on December 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


Thanks for this. I loved Foundation when I read it as a teenager, and I was just saying I wanted to try listening to radio plays/audiobooks again, so this is great timing for me!
posted by daisyk at 9:16 AM on December 11, 2011


The distinguished cast includes many from the various Doctor Who seasons, as well as Cybil Fawlty herself. Good stuff!
posted by Stoatfarm at 9:22 AM on December 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Never heard about this. Thanks for sharing it. Have been meaning to re-read the books for the longest time.
posted by 2manyusernames at 9:27 AM on December 11, 2011


I look forward to this reenactment. Good times.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 12:15 PM on December 11 [+] [!]


I see what you did will be doing there, Mayor.
posted by hal9k at 9:37 AM on December 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


Very cool. Foundation 8 of 8 is listed with a nearly 8 hour duration but that is an error as it is :59 mins and change.
posted by bz at 9:55 AM on December 11, 2011


Is it any good?
posted by Afroblanco at 10:47 AM on December 11, 2011


It's a bit echoey in production, but the story seems to be well conveyed. I'm only half-way into the first episode. It's certainly not gripping radio drama, but it's doing the job.
posted by hippybear at 11:15 AM on December 11, 2011


The Foundation Trilogy, unfortunately, is turning out to be the "Catcher in the Rye" to the politically psychotic. It turns out bin Laden was a fan, and that "Al Qaeda" may be translated as not "The Base" but an Asimov-inspired "The Foundation". Furthermore, Newt Gingerich's strange idea that he is a "defender of civilization" apparently grew from his too-enthusiastic reading of the trilogy.
posted by Schmucko at 11:44 AM on December 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


I totally listened to that in bed under the covers on a scratchy AM radio. Nostalgiariffic.
posted by Sebmojo at 11:52 AM on December 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


It turns out bin Laden was a fan, and that "Al Qaeda" may be translated as not "The Base" but an Asimov-inspired "The Foundation".

What is your source for this assertion? I look online for "bin laden foundation trilogy" and I find a single article which comes from the Fortean Times, and another reference which points to a now-deleted paragraph from Wikipedia,
"A theory was proposed that Osama Bin Laden, the leader of the Al Qaeda terrorist organisation, may have been influenced by the novel in its formation as a method to expand Islamic fundamentalist influence, even extending to the name 'Al Qaeda' which may translate to 'foundation', amongst many other words, in Arabic. Yet a Karl Marx book (Grundrisse) also translates as 'Al Qaeda', and there is no confirmation that Asimov's books were ever read by Osama Bin Laden.[12]"
This all seems to stem from an assertion by Dmitri Gusev in 2001 (Guardian article examining the claims).

I haven't yet found any real connection between OBL and The Foundation books other than that. Did we find copies of the books which are actually associated with him in any way, or is this all just hand-wavey stuff which sounds like it was the product of a really stoned night's conversation between a bunch of Russian SF fans?
posted by hippybear at 12:07 PM on December 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


How have they dealt with the Mule? Somehow I always pictured Roddy McDowell in that role.
posted by infini at 12:25 PM on December 11, 2011


It's certainly full of BBC Radiophonic Workshop synth sound effects...

Haven't gotten to the Mule yet. But it's 8 hours long. Give me time.
posted by hippybear at 12:36 PM on December 11, 2011


Schmucko: "The Foundation Trilogy, unfortunately, is turning out to be the "Catcher in the Rye" to the politically psychotic."

I wonder how this is at all possible, unless they didn't bother reading to the end of the series. (possibly spoilery:) There's every reason to believe that Asimov eventually concluded he had no idea what he was talking about, hence Galaxia.
posted by vanar sena at 2:44 PM on December 11, 2011


Never heard mention of this, not even in Asimov's exhaustive multivolume autobiography. Is it possible it was adapted without his knowledge?
posted by Larry Duke at 4:16 PM on December 11, 2011


I admit I had no more than rumors that Al Qaida and The Foundation were related, and that Osama was influenced by science fiction. I just thought it was an interesting possibility. Also hippybear's link points out that the Japanese subway poison gas attack may have been similarly motivated.
posted by Schmucko at 5:07 PM on December 11, 2011


Just listened to the first two episodes. It's not bad, but the weird sound effects kind of detract from the story. I guess that's the way people signaled "the future" back then.
posted by wuwei at 5:20 PM on December 11, 2011


Al Qaida could probably have picked up a few things about cell-level organizational hierarchy from The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. I mean, while we're talking about this.

Thanks for the post, SpacemanStix. Going to take me a while to work through 8 hours.
posted by penduluum at 5:23 PM on December 11, 2011


So... it's a lot of Johnny Exposition dialogue and stuff... not totally engaging... until the last 3 episodes. Then there's actual drama taking place.

I don't fault the script for that. It has to have been really difficult to adapt such a concept-heavy series to a radio drama to begin with.

It's a worthwhile listen. Especially if you don't know the Foundation series and want an in-door which doesn't involve picking up a book. It's well done, the concepts are well presented, and the acting is good. It's just largely passive.

(caveat -- my touchstones for quality radio drama are H2G2 and the Star Wars adaptation, so I probably have the bar set really high.)
posted by hippybear at 7:41 PM on December 11, 2011


The Foundation Trilogy, unfortunately, is turning out to be the "Catcher in the Rye" to the politically psychotic.

No kidding.
posted by BobbyVan at 7:09 AM on December 12, 2011


An interesting piece on Newt Gingrich & Foundation which doesn't seem to have been posted yet?
posted by with hidden noise at 8:43 AM on December 12, 2011


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