Photo Credit: Pasi Välkkynen/Orbit Books
In keeping with the new epic-fantasy direction handed by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, which includes finding its own Game of Thrones – it has already spent $250 million for a Lord of the Rings prequel series – Amazon has acquired global rights to Consider Phlebas, the first book in Iain M. Banks' space opera Culture series.
Dennis Kelly, the British writer known for sitcom Pulling, co-writing stage-play Matilda the Musical, and conspiracy thriller Utopia, is on board to adapt the book. Amazon Studios and Brad Pitt's Plan B Entertainment will produce the series, with the estate of the late author – Banks passed away in 2013 – set to executive produce with Kelly.
Consider Phlebas has been given a straight-to-series commitment by Amazon, eschewing the pilot process that it has used in years past. No actors, directors, or other writers are yet attached to the project.
“Iain Banks has long been a hero of mine, and his innate warmth, humour and humanism shines through these novels,” said Kelly. “Far from being the dystopian nightmares that we are used to, Banks creates a kind of flawed paradise, a society truly worth fighting for — rather than a warning from the future, his books are a beckoning.”
“The story of the Culture is so rich and captivating that for years Hollywood has been trying to bring this utopian society to life on the screen,” said Sharon Tal Yguado, head of scripted series at Amazon Studios. “We are honoured that we have been chosen, along with Dennis Kelly and Plan B Entertainment, to make Consider Phlebas into a television series we think will be loved by fans for years to come.”
First published in 1987, Consider Phlebas revolves around the Idiran-Culture War, that erupts between the Idirans, a deeply religious, aggressive race intent on dominating the galaxy, and the Culture, a highly advanced and progressive society. Here's how Amazon describes its adaptation, as per The Hollywood Reporter, which first reported on this acquisition:
"A kinetic, action-packed adventure on a huge canvas. The book draws upon the extraordinary world and mythology Banks created in the Culture, in which a highly advanced and progressive society ends up at war with the Idirans, a deeply religious, warlike race intent on dominating the entire galaxy.
The story centres on Horza, a rogue agent tasked by the Idirans with the impossible mission of recovering a missing Culture "Mind," an artificial intelligence many thousands of times smarter than any human — something that could hold the key to wiping out the Culture altogether.
What unfolds, with Banks' trademark irreverent humour, ultimately asks the poignant question of how we can use technology to preserve our humanity, not surrender it."
Should the new Amazon series work with viewers, the creators won't have to worry about material. Banks penned a total of 10 books in the Culture series, all of which were standalone entries taking place across different years. Of course, Amazon will need to acquire rights to the other books as well.