Iain M. Banks’ sweeping Culture science-fiction book series finally has a video home.
Amazon Studios announced this morning it’s acquired the global television rights to the first novel, Consider Phlebas. Amazon said it will adapt the book for a television series on Prime Video. Dennis Kelly, who wrote the British TV series Utopia, will do the adaptation, and Plan B Entertainment, known for World War Z and 12 Years a Slave, will produce.
Consider Phlebas was Banks’ first science-fiction novel and began the saga of the utopian interstellar society known as the Culture. In the books, the Culture ends up at war with the deeply religious, warlike Idirans. The story in Consider Phlebas follows a rogue agent tasked by the Idirans to capture a missing Culture artificial intelligence — which may be enough to wipe out the progressive society.
— Jeff Bezos (@JeffBezos) February 21, 2018
While the first novel was published in 1987, it’s never been brought to the screen. “Iain Banks has long been a hero of mine, and his innate warmth, humor and humanism shines through these novels,” said Dennis Kelly in Amazon’s announcement. “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.”
Amazon has not said when the video adaptation will be available for streaming.
The Scottish-born Banks, who died in 2013, had a dual writing career. As “Iain M. Banks,” he wrote science fiction, including nine Culture books. As “Iain Banks,” he authored more mainstream books, and wrote more than 27 novels in all.
Space opera, an adventure-filled, galaxy-spanning sub-genre of science fiction, seems to be rocketing in recent popularity. James S.A. Corey’s The Expanse has been a hit for SyFy (it also streams on Amazon Prime) and is entering its third season. Netflix recently released the series Altered Carbon, based on the action-packed novel of the same name.
Amazon’s Jeff Bezos isn’t the only billionaire fan of Banks’ work. Elon Musk, a rival in space to Bezos’ Blue Origin, named two of SpaceX’s drone ships after the sentient starships in the Culture series: “Of Course I Still Love You” in the Atlantic, and “Just Read the Instructions” in the Pacific. Another SpaceX drone ship, to be named “A Shortfall of Gravitas,” is under construction for use on the East Coast. In the Banks novels, the starship was called “Experiencing a Significant Gravitas Shortfall.”