Whenever it's announced that a beloved dystopian book is being made into a TV show — think Nnedi Okorafor's Who Fears Death or Kass Morgan's The 100 — it's not exactly a surprise. If there was ever a novel that was made for the screen, it's a dystopian. With their rag-tag team of misfits fighting back against the powers that be, lots of political intrigue, and cinematic battles galore, dystopian TV series and movies are among the creme de la creme of novel adaptations. But what about utopian novels? Amazon is about to tackle just that with today's announcement that they will be developing Consider Phlebus by author Iain M. Banks.
Banks's 1987 space opera is the first novel in his The Culture series, which revolves around a war that erupts between the highly advanced, progressive society, the Culture, and the Idirans, a religious, war-like race who are intent on dominating the entire galaxy. And though it might sound like the makings of your usual destructive, dystopian world, Consider Phlebus is actually billed as a utopia. In an article posted on Variety, producer Dennis Kelley is quoted as saying, “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.”
It's an interesting choice to make right now, with the political and social upheaval taking center stage in our own IRL world at the moment. Dystopian novels and the characters within them have been continuously sited as clear inspirations for the current citizen uprising taking place, especially in light of the teen response to the school shooting at Florida's Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. But perhaps it's exactly for this reason that a story like Consider Phlebus will strike a chord with today's viewers — because what are we all fighting for if not for a society, and its people, that is worth saving?
Either way, we're hoping that Amazon does for utopian space operas in Consider Phlebus what it did for hilarious Jewish mothers turned comediennes in Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. Which is to say, make award-winning, endlessly entertaining television that the rest of us will binge watch and then talk about for hours every Monday around the water cooler when we're supposed to be answering emails.