Thursday, January 18, 2007

Cormac the Miniseries -- I wish.

Paul Swan’s post reminded me: Some years ago great excitement ensued when Tor US received a query from Blue Train Entertainment about the film rights to Gridlinked. This excitement increased when, after a bit of research, I found out that they had been involved in producing the Jackie Chan movie The Tuxedo along with a couple of other production companies including Dreamworks. Nothing came of this, however.

Frankly, I would love one of my books to be bought by Hollywood, especially if that involved me trousering some silly money. It would also raise my profile and probably lead to more book sales. However, I think it was Terry Pratchett who said that such a sale virtually guarantees the book won’t be seen on the screen. Many thousands have been bought, but how many get turned into a films? Usually all we see are remakes of 60s SF series, something new where when a book is written it’s usually after the film, or stuff produced filmed from books by authors who have made the transition to sainthood and ‘literature’ by shuffling off their mortal coil.

The big problem with this book to film thing is, of course, that books are big. They’ve got a lot of stuff in them and large amounts of it get sacrificed so the rest can be packed into two hours of screen time. Also, a lot of the concepts put across in the narrative of a book are difficult to translate to the screen, especially in that limited time. Really, film directors are better off taking up a short story and running with that. We Can Remember It For You Wholesale, anyone? When a book is turned into a film it can succeed artistically (though not necessarily financially – like Dune), but it often isn’t the same beast any more.

Much better, I think, when a book is taken on by a TV production company. First it stands a lot better chance of getting filmed, and if made into a series there’s room for the book to sprawl itself out (Hence the excellent Dune & Children of Dune mini-series’ being true to their source). So this is why I’d like to see the Cormac books made into a series of five seasons with about twelve episodes each. Not too much to ask is it? Anyone out there buying?



Kirby Uber said...

you know i was just watching the 12 hour Shogun on dvd, the miniseries (on NBC?) from 1980 based on clavell's novel of the same name.

12 hours. wow. really, looking at the whole thing back to back was really something, not to compare historical fiction to sci/fi but one would think a gridlinked miniseries on the sci/fi channel would be brilliant.

i could finally put to good use aside from a vanity host for myself. ;p

Anonymous said...

Sounds great to me!

A friend and I have always thought it would be awesome to see Gridlinked on the big screen, or for that matter any of your books! But a TV series, as you say, would allow for a more true adaptation.

It makes you wonder if TV/Movie producers really read regularly. With the crap that they churn out on a yearly basis, it would appear not.

Anonymous said...

Funny you should mention that...

A while ago for a laugh I decided to make a movie poster based off Gridlinked...

CthulhuWhoWho said...

Hey Neal!

I would love to see Cormac make it onto film. However, with the complexity of your stories I would be afraid the filmmakers would butcher your work.

I think the Polity would be better explored on HBO or a similar channel (NOT SCI-FI CHANNEL!). A multi-season series perhaps? I'm not sure if you've read George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series, but it was just picked up by HBO. Each book would be one season. I believe your books would be much better served in that type of format. Plus its on cable! Mr. Crane could be as diabolical as he is supposed to be!

Elliot said...


Paul Swan said...

You never know, after all in this digital age of 24hr, 56million channels, nothing on digital/satellite/cable TV a Cormac series would be a breath of fresh air. Did I read some where on your blog that you don't have an agent(or did i imagine that)?

Perhaps you should get a US Agent, get them banging on the door of the big studios. Hi-Def HBO produced Polity anyone?

Anonymous said...

I'd buy the DVD set definitely, but unfortunately I can't afford to buy the rights, sorry :)

Thinking about the comments a while back about who would make a good Cormac... I reckon Christian Bale could do him justice?

Anonymous said...

Any of the stories from The Engineer Recon could be a film. So many ideas and new concepts to try and explain and portray. The short nature of the stories should help a script writer somewhat.

Snairls would be my choice. The scenery, hive tech, and slime sex. Thats enough for me for 2 hours.

Neal Asher said...

Kirby, I liked Shogun. And I guess if my dreams came true that might be worth a few bob. Best of luck!

Adam, I don't think they do read much. I think people that have an obsession in one area tend not to step out of it so often.

Come on, Cameron -- let's see it. You can contact me at ndotasheratvirgindotnet.

Maynard1977, well, to prevent that problem they need to pay me a retainer to oversee the script ... or get me to write it.

elliot, indeed.

Paul, well, I do have and agent. Macmillan act as my agent.

Matthew, my wife Caroline would like Keiffer Sutherland.

Mark, I think you're getting an unhealthy obsession with sex and molluscs.

Joe said...

I remember being excited when Richard Morgan's debut, Altered Carbon, was optioned by Joel Silver for a shedload of money just a little while after Ariel and I had been interviewing him on the old Alien Online (the Guardian ran an article on it and nicely nicked quotes from the interview without asking or crediting the site - annoying, but since it was highlighting a good new writer in a national paper what the hell).

And here we are several years and books later and no sign of a movie - Richard said he saw a script draft but that's been about it. The good thing about options is that the writer can often get more money than they make from their books, so it helps finance them being a full time writer, regardless of the movie being made or not and the other thing is that options normally only last for a certain period of time. So if they don't make the movie by then, the rights revert to the writer and he/she can sell the to another movie mogul again.

I do think that HBO or someone similar would be better for your books, doing them as a series rather than a movie or two to be honest - if they can make Garth Ennis' Preacher work at HBO maybe they can do Cormac. Just don't let them get confused with the sickly sweet old kid's choccy bar and rename it Caramac...

limiting factor said...

I think an interesting aspect of the transition of books to screen is how closely they match (or not) to our own internal visualisation of the characters and settings. I guess this is an entirely personal thing; we all visualise differently, and therefore a screen version of a familiar or much-loved book varies in its 'accuracy' for each of us. Personally, I can cope with these differences in imagery as long as to some extent the other key elements of the book are retained. Unfornately - as Neil points out - this is often not the case.

If you do sell the rights, Neil, just promise us you won't sell to Travolta!

Chris said...

Pratchett made a spot-on comment in SFX regarding the Sky production of "Hogfather": Hollywood offer more money, but you have a better chance with TV of actually seeing the book actually filmed.

Anyway, Pratchett also said that why should be appear on "Who Wants to be a Millionaire" when he's already a millionaire? ;-)

Alex Cull said...

I'd definitely want to see the Cormac books on film, hopefully not too dumbed-down by the producers.

Also, I'm curious about what the Spatterjay books would be like on the silver screen. Maybe not films to go to see on a first date, but definitely, horribly entertaining nonetheless!