Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Man in the High Castle will be Adapted for Cable TV

Unless you have been trapped on an alternate timeline, you probably heard last week about Syfy (pronounced "siffy") finalizing a deal to adapt Philip K. Dick’s Hugo Award-winning novel The Man In The High Castle into a 4-hour miniseries event with Frank Spotnitz (The X-Files, Hunted) attached to write and serve as Executive Producer. Ridley Scott’s Scott Free Productions will produce the project with Headline Pictures, Electric Shepherd Productions and FremantleMedia International (which will distribute the series globally). Spotnitz will write the first two hours and supervise the writing of the second two hours The second writer, air date and casting are TBA.

For those who don't know, Dick's The Man in The High Castle is set in an alternate 1960s in which Nazi Germany and Japan were victorious in World War II. The year is 1962 and the Axis Powers have split the United States between themselves. Now Germany and Japan are locked in a Cold War and the former United States could be the spark to set the world ablaze. All of this is background to our cast of characters who live their different, yet connected, lives.

“Ridley Scott is one of my all-time favorite filmmakers and this is one of my all-time favorite books,” said Spotnitz, “so I am incredibly honored and thrilled to have this opportunity.”

The Man in The High Castle is one of Dick’s most imaginative and captivating works and certainly one of my favorites. I am pleased to team up with the singular Frank Spotnitz and Syfy, Headline Pictures, Electric Shepherd and FremantleMedia International to bring this epic to audiences who will find this story as intriguing and riveting as we do.” said Ridley Scott. This is not Scott's first foray into Dick's fiction. He directed Blade Runner (1982) a remake (sigh) of which is in the works.

The idea of turning The Man in the High Castle into a film or television series is nothing new. Electric Shepherd announced last November they were working on a television version of the classic story. Now that SyFy has picked it up, however, should alternate historians be worried about what they are going to do with this classic (some might say the original) work of alternate history? Remember SyFy are the guys who gave us Mansquito and Sharktopus. Of course, Spotnitz and Scott have a lot of cred in the geek community, but Prometheus (despite its critical and financial success) has left a lot of fandom grumbling.

And let's face it, alternate historians have been burned before by cable.

Nevertheless I am going to play the cautious optimist for this one. I am not going to rant and rave, I want to see this series get made. It don't even need an exact retelling just as long as still presents the fundamentals that made the story great. If Scott and company don't manage to screw it up, we might even see a longer series which further explores Dick's Axis victory dystopia. Who knows? Maybe they will even Fringe-ify it by exploring (spoiler alert) the bizarre (from his perspective at least) alternate Earth Nobusuke Tagomi visited for a short time.

I guess I will need to consult the I Ching on this one.

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Matt Mitrovich is the founder and editor of Alternate History Weekly Update, a blogger on Amazing Stories and a volunteer editor for Alt Hist magazine. His fiction can be found at Echelon PressJake's Monthly and The Were-Traveler. When not writing he works as an attorney, enjoys life with his beautiful wife Alana and prepares for the inevitable zombie apocalypse. You can follow him on Facebook or Twitter.

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