SFFWorld News – 1/6/2010:
1) U.S. t.v. series Smallville, about Superman’s early days, will spin off a t.v. movie on The CW network, Smallville: Absolute Justice. The film will focus on the Justice Society of superheroes of which Superman is a part. The film is currently scheduled to air February 5th.
2) God of film Steven Spielberg and god of horror Stephen King are teaming up to develop a limited series based on King’s current SF horror novel Under the Dome. Spielberg’s DreamWorks TV has optioned the book and the production will likely air on cable television. King will be an executive producer. Under the Dome concerns a small vacation town in Maine that finds itself surrounded by an invisible force field. Spielberg and King have worked together before when Spielberg optioned King and Peter Straub’s landmark dark fantasy novel The Talisman twenty years ago. That project has been repeatedly sidelined by budget problems.
3) The mash-up horror sensation Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen with additions by Seth Grahame-Smith will be made into a t.v. miniseries by Deadline Productions and Lionsgate. Actress Natalie Portman has signed up to produce and star in the production as the plucky Elizabeth Bennet who finds herself entangled in a complicated romance with the sardonic Mr. Darcy while trying to figure out how to deal with an epidemic of flesh-eating zombies in Regency England.
4) Amazon will open retail stores under its banner in the UK for customers who order on line to pick up purchases rather than waiting on the mail to deliver them. The stores will contain Amazon’s main stock of books, but also other items sold through the site, from electrical appliances to clothing.
5) Bestselling SFF novelist Robert Holdstock died unexpectedly November 29th of E. coli infection, at the age of 61. His best-known work, Mythago Wood, won the BSFA and the World Fantasy Award for both its novella form and extended novel version. It was the first in his Ryhope Wood series, a major work of speculative literature.
6) Fresh off his triumph with the ground and records breaking SF movie Avatar, James Cameron has signed up to do a remake of Fantastic Voyage for 20th Century Fox, from a screenplay written by Shane Salerno. The famous story concerns five scientists who are shrunk to microscopic size and injected into the body of a dying colleague to save his life. The original movie, released in 1966, was written by Harry Kleiner and novelized by SF writer Isaac Asimov.
7) Following the Authors Guild widely debated court settlement with Google, legendary SFF author Ursula Le Guin has withdrawn her long-time membership from the organization in protest. Google started a Google Books operation that excerpted, sometimes over 90%, of both books in the public domain and those still under copyright. The settlement allows Google to continue this practice, but authors with works under copyright can opt out by telling Google they don’t want their books included in the controversial search feature. Le Guin disagrees with the Authors Guild’s reasons for accepting the settlement, after they and other groups took Google to court, and no longer wants the Guild to represent her interests. She retains her memberships in the National Writers Union and the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, two groups which have opposed the settlement.
8) The Speculative Literature Foundation granted its Gulliver Travel Research Grant to SFWA member Caren Gussoff. The grant is intended to help Gussoff travel to Seattle, Washington to do research for her near-future novel, The King of Seattle, in which mental illness has become a communicable disease.
9) Director Peter Berg has bowed out of helming the new remake of Frank Herbert’s Dune and director Pierre Morel (Taken) will be taking over the production for Paramount. Berg has gone on instead to direct Universal’s movies Battleship and Lone Survivor. Dune was made into a movie in 1984 and a miniseries in 2000 for the then Sci-Fi Channel.
10) In the wake of a disappointing t.v. season, U.S. network NBC is bringing back its SF spy show Chuck sooner (and hopefully with fewer budget cuts.) A two-hour third season opener is planned for Sunday, January 10, in the States, and then the show will move to a Monday night timeslot.
11) Tor UK has made a three book deal with SF author Gary Gibson. One of the books under contract will be a standalone novel set in the world of Gibson’s popular Shoal Sequence series, but first up will be a novel called Final Days, followed by a sequel.
12) Up-coming SFF Movies (the Post-Apocalypse Winter):
Jan 8: Daybreakers – The world has been taken over by vampires whose supply of human blood is dwindling. A vampire scientist attempts to make a synthetic blood substitute or cure vampirism, leading to trouble.
Jan 15: The Book of Eli – Based on the graphic novel about a man shepherding a sacred book through a post-apocalypse future America.
Jan 15: Hoodwinked 2: Hood vs. Evil – The sequel to the animated hit Hoodwinked. A teen Red Riding Hood gets special training and tries to find out what happened to Hansel and Gretel.
Jan 22: Legion – The Biblical God has decided to destroy the world, and the Archangel Michael stands against God’s legions to protect the one young woman who might still save humanity.
Jan 22: The Tooth Fairy – A disillusioned hockey player has to become an actual tooth fairy in this kid’s comedy.
Jan 29: When in Rome — A romantic comedy about a young woman whose theft of coins from a magical Italian fountain brings her a bevy of suitors, including one who may be the real thing.
Feb. 12: Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightening Thief – A teen discovers that he’s the son of the Greek god Poseidon and has to recover Zeus’ lightening bolt and find his mother before war between the gods breaks out.
Feb. 12: The Wolfman – In this horror remake, a nobleman investigating the disappearance of his brother learns about the curse of the wolf.
Feb. 26: The Crazies – In this horror remake, a small American town starts to go crazy, with inhabitants killing each other.