Monday 9 May 2022

An update on SFF projects in development at Startling Inc.

As I reported in February 2021, the production company Startling Inc. has been developing a number of major SFF novels and series as TV shows for a while. Several of these have now been picked up. I thought it might be interesting to track how their projects in development have changed over the last year or so.

The company is run by Vince Gerardis, a former producer on Game of Thrones and a contact of George R.R. Martin. Unsurprisingly, several of his projects are related to George and HBO's deal to further explore the world of Westeros: House of the Dragon's first season is in the can and will air in August, whilst Dunk & Egg, Ten Thousand Ships and The Nine Voyages of the Sea Snake remain in development. The Ice Dragon, based on a non-Westeros GRRM story, is still in development at Warner Brothers Animation. Harrenhal: A Song of Ice and Fire Stage Play also remains in development. Wild Cards, based on GRRM's superhero franchise (along with over thirty other writers), is also still in development at Peacock. Sandkings, based on GRRM's most famous pre-A Game of Thrones story, is also still in development at Netflix with Gore Verbinski slated to direct.

Several projects from the original list have also now been shot: Dark Winds, based on Tony Hillerman's crime novel, launches on AMC on 12 June. RPM (Infinito Films), an original Spanish series set in 2101 where emotions are forbidden, is already in the can and awaiting release.

Some projects also appear to have been discontinued: Eon, based on Greg Bear's 1985 novel, is now MIA, as is Montmarte, possibly a Picasso-related project.

Looking at the other projects (those marked * have been added since February 2021):

  • Ringworld (MGM/Amazon): based on Larry Niven's classic 1970 novel about a huge ring-shaped megastructure. Originally optioned in 2017, but moved onto the backburner several years ago and not currently believed to be in active development.
  • The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag (Phoenix): a project based on Robert Heinlein's 1942 novella.
  • Passengers (Groundswell & Endeavour): likely a project based on Robert Silverberg's 1969 short story.
  • Inconstant Moon (21 Laps/Picture Start): a project based on Larry Niven's 1971 short story.
  • Dry, an Augusten Burroughs Story (Bruce Cohen/MML): a project based on Augusten Burroughs' memoir, detailing his battle with alcoholism.
  • Hawksbill Station (First Generation Films): a project based on Robert Silverberg's 1967 novel about a penal colony established in the distant past.
  • Dayworld (Warner Brothers TV): a project based on the 1985 novel by Philip José Farmer where the world is so overcrowded, only 1/7 of the population can be awake at any time.
  • Roadmarks (HBO): a TV show based on the Roger Zelazny 1979 novel of the same name. Kalinda Vazquez (Star Trek: Discovery) is tipped to showrun. 
  • The Postman (Warner Brothers TV): A fresh take on David Brin's 1985 novel, previously adapted by Kevin Costner in 1997.
  • More Than Human (Good Banana/HBO): an adaptation of Theodore Sturgeon's 1953 novel about superheroes who can merge their powers.
  • OK (Anonymous Content): still no idea on this one.
  • Rose Hill (Leeding Media): possibly an adaptation of Julie Garwood's Claybornes of Rose Hill novel series (previously filmed in 1997) or Pamela Grandstaff's Rose Hill Mysteries.
  • The Pearl (Triscope Studios): 
  • Weetzie Bat (Universal/Peacock): a project based on the Dangerous Angels novel series by Francesca Lia Block. A film version was in development in 2018 with Ana Taylor-Joy, Nick Robinson, Theodore Pellerin and Keiynan Lonsdale attached to star, but that fell through.
  • Clean (Anonymous): an adaptation of John Kessel's 2011 short story.
  • Sleepless (Stampede/Jeremy Podeswa): an adaptation of Nancy Kress's Sleepless trilogy, starting with Beggars in Spain, about a new generation of humans genetically engineered to never need to sleep.
  • Up the Line (Village Roadshow): an adaptation of Robert Silverberg's 1969 time travel novel.
  • Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars Trilogy (Fox): a huge project based on Kim Stanley Robinson's massive Mars Trilogy of novels (starting with Red Mars). Previously in development at Spike with J. Michael Straczynski attached, but dropped due to being a poor fit for the network.
  • The Belgariad (City Hill Arts): an adaptation of the late David and Leigh Eddings' five-novel epic fantasy series. Development seems to have stalled since the revelation that the authors were child abusers who did jail time in the 1970s.
  • Billion Dollar Boy (Phoenix): a project based on Charles Sheffield's 1997 novel about a spoiled rich kid from Earth who is dumped on a remote space station.
  • The Dying Earth (A24): an adaptation of Jack Vance's hugely influential fantasy series, which directly inspired both Dungeons & Dragons and the entire "Dying Earth" subgenre of stories.
  • Ark (Anonymous/Epix): a project based on Stephen Baxter's novels Flood and Ark about a hitherto-unknown body of water in Earth's mantle draining into the oceans, causing catastrophic flooding.
  • *Ministry for the Future (Anonymous): an adaptation of Kim Stanley Robinson's 2020 novel about a government ministry which is charged with protecting future generations.
  • *Warrior Heir (Management 360): an adaptation of The Heir Chronicles by Cinda Williams Chima.
  • *Lady Who Sailed the Soul (Anonymous Content): an adaptation of Cordwainer Smith's 1960 short story.
  • Arabian Nights (Anonymous Content): presumably a fresh take on the Arabian Nights story cycle.
  • *Another Fine Myth (Skybound): an adaptation of Robert Asprin's Myth Adventures book series.
  • Play (Anonymous Content): unknown (although possibly a mistake, referring to Anonymous Content recently optioning Lillian Hellman's play The Children's Hour).

As usual, most of these projects are only "in development" and will likely not see the screen, at least in these formats, but it's good to see a production company dedicated to bringing so many SFF books and stories to the screen.

1 comment:

Graham O'Dwyer said...

Wow Adam, that is some research you did there, very impressive.
Thanks for all that. I will be keeping an eye on Startling Inc. now that you have made me aware of their existence. As a classic Science Fiction fan it's wonderful to see names like Larry Niven, Theodore Sturgeon and the wonderful Cordwainer Smith still being considered as relevant!