Amazon to develop William Gibson’s ‘The Peripheral’

Amazon Studios in its relentless pursuit to capture the streaming media market has announced that it will adapt William Gibson’s The Peripheral. From The Hollywood Reporter:

‘Lisa Joy and Jonathan Nolan will adapt William Gibson’s book ‘The Peripheral’ as a script-to-series project for the retailer and streaming outlet.

Days before the highly anticipated second season of Westworld debuts on HBO, creators Lisa Joy and Jonathan Nolan are looking to their next project.

Joy and Nolan, via their Warner Bros. Television-based Kilter Films banner, are set to adapt William Gibson’s book The Peripheral as a drama for Amazon Studios. The project landed at Amazon in a competitive situation, with the retailer/streaming outlet handing out a script-to-series order. (Meaning that should the script for the drama come in well, it would be picked up straight to series rather than going through the traditional pilot process or pay a sizable financial penalty.)

The Peripheral revolves around Flynne Fisher, a woman in a near-future America in which technology has started to subtly alter society. Flynne discovers a hidden connection to a very different reality — and the dark future of her own.

Scott B. Smith (who earned an Oscar nomination for adapting 1998’s A Simple Plan) will pen the script and executive produce alongside Nolan, Joy and their Kilter Films topper Athena Wickham. Steven Hoban (Splice) and his producing partner Vincenzo Natali (Westworld) also will exec produce, with the latter set to direct the drama. The potential series is a co-production between Warner Bros. Television and Amazon Studios.

‘The Peripheral’ author William Gibson.

For his part, Gibson is considered to have pioneered the sci-fi subgenre known as cyberpunk and coined the term “cyberspace” in his 1982 short story Burning Chrome. His works include Neuromancer and The Difference Engine. The Peripheral, published in 2014, spawned a sequel, Agency, due this month.

At Amazon, The Peripheral arrives as the company is looking to find its version of Game of Thrones under a mandate from CEO Jeff Bezos. To that end, Amazon Studios and new head of programming Jennifer Salke have developed a genre-focused slate that includes a Lord of the Rings TV series, Consider Phlebas and a reboot of Hanna, among others.

For their part, married duo Nolan and Joy adapted Michael Crichton’s Westworld to become a hit for HBO. The series ranks as HBO’s most-watched freshman drama ever, and scored 22 Emmy nominations. They each have separate overall deals with Warners. Their Kilter banner also counts CBS’ Person of Interest as well as interactive and transmedia marketing projects around Westworld, including special spots for the Super Bowl and interactive experiences at events including SXSW and San Diego Comic-Con.

Joy and Nolan are repped by WME and Bloom Hergott. Smith, who also wrote the screenplay for Keanu Reeves feature Siberia, is with ICM Partners, Circle of Confusion and Behr Abramson. Natali, who has directed Orphan Black, Hannibal and American Gods, is repped by CAA and the Gotham Group. Hoban, who produced Splice and Oscar-winning animated short Ryan is with CAA and Holmes Weinberg.’

As a fan of William Gibson from the very first this should come as good news. However, I’m quite hesitant to say that this will turn out well. Anyone who has read Gibson’s work knows that he doesn’t give his readers a net. To are immersed into his worlds and if you don’t get it soon enough, you’ll be lost and have difficulty in finding your way out.

I gave my own views of The Peripheral back in 2014. It is a novel with an extremely steep learning curve, but once you have a grasp of Gibson’s intent everything opens wide for you. Gibson’s use of ‘in world’ lingo and jargon are part of his style, a style developed early on when he coined the term cyberspace and almost single handedly created the cyberpunk sub-genre. In many ways Gibson should take as much credit as a linguist as an author.

Amazon has announced some massively ambitious projects for their studio in recent months. They seem determined to tackle serious and literary science fiction with little regard to what other studios or networks are doing. If this project succeeds will this mean we can expect the long awaited Neuromancer adaptation? One can only hope.

William Gibson is one of the few authors I buy immediately in hardcover. If Amazon can produce a programme to approach the quality of Gibson’s writing then Amazon will have accomplished a task of Herculean proportions. I will be waiting in eager anticipation for The Peripheral.

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