The Sandman, adaptation anxiety and a TCI linkfest
So I’m looking at the Sandman trailer they launched for comic-con
And it looks really, really good.
The Sandman was one of those late-teens/early 20s obsessions for me, like Discworld, though I remember the late 90s and the early 00s mostly for a sudden exponential explosion of multi-media entertainment (the internet, more movies, multiplexes, big bookstores with big catalogues). This was India’s globalisation/democracy/future-superpower-pipedream phase, which feels like it was a million years ago now. Anyway, I was convinced that The Sandman, like Watchmen, like Discworld, like LOTR, like His Dark Materials and Earthsea and Bas-Lag and so many others could never be adapted to film or TV, because page + imagination > audiovisual, even after acknowledging that an adaptation didn’t need to be faithful to the original at all and just needed to be good in its own medium. This assumption despite existence of, say, the Jeeves and Wooster show, which demonstrated that you could capture even Wodehouse’s tone/feel in TV. But this couldn’t be done in SF or fantasy, I said, in this imaginary argument, because page + imagination + extra skill required to write SF and fantasy > audiovisual + additional production/special effects/budget challenges.
Then the LOTR movies and that first set of Spiderman/X-Men films showed up and proved this was not correct: great storytellers in any medium + great tech in every medium could do almost anything: the main problem continued to be bad studio-level decisionmaking, or directors or stars gone astray. Since that 00s boom, a lot of the things I’d assumed were beyond translation into other media have had magnificent adaptations (Watchmen, especially the new show that I liked more than the original comic somehow, Pullman’s books, even, miraculously, Good Omens and Tintin) and a lot of books that had disappointing adaptations suddenly have great ones or are getting more shots (Dune, Percy Jackson). Next thing you know, there’ll be a Discworld adaptation as good as the books, at least for a while, before they inevitably Hobbit Film Trilogy or Game of Thrones s6-8 it up.
I hope the show’s as exciting as the trailer because I would really love a great Sandman adaptation. Also very happy to see Ben Aaronovitch’s Rivers of London series picked up for TV again: that has had great show written all over it for a while.
Assuming the world doesn’t end immediately, we’re going to see a lot of great adaptations over the next few years, the chief danger being another human-error problem: studios doing nostalgia-based out-of-date work with established fanbases, or just mining/remaking existing franchises to death and ignoring newer work. If I were a studio boss with a huge development budget… well, I would just have my own books made, obviously, but if I were to go on a commissioning spree otherwise… sigh. Those orogenes, Order of the Pure Moon, the Daevabad books, Gentleman Bastards, Central Station, the Jade City books, Unconquerable Sun, Koli, Murderbot, Gideon, Baru… anyway.
I get very excited when new adaptation deals are announced for authors and books I love, but having gone through the optioning process several times in both Bollywood and Hollywood I decided a long time ago to stop announcing mine, because you really don’t know if anything is actually made until it’s on screen, and given the current desolate state of Indian entertainment both quality-wise and politically, and the massive traffic jams in development outside, I’ve downgraded my own adaptation ambitions to ‘hopefully in my lifetime’ which I have to say is still ambitious. But I did sign another option deal recently, to a very nice production company in a country with a non-crashing currency, for a book I’m amazed is still doing the rounds, so who knows?
In other news,
I have a story in this upcoming collection edited by the mighty Lavie Tidhar:
The City Inside updatefest
Yesterday I finished the last round of The City Inside promo podcasts so here is another set of links to reviews, posts, interviews, podcasts that happened after my last newsletter issue a month ago. I had a truly lovely time with this book release, and really, the Tordotcom promo/marketing team is so amazing that even a lifelong grumbler like me is feeling nothing but gratitude. Also met a wonderful set of journalists, podcasters, bookstore online eventfolk, book clubs and author-hosts, and cannot wait to do it again with the next novel! Will post more reviews and the remaining podcasts/interviews in later issues, but there won’t be as many as this set. If you do feel like seeing the complete list, it’s on the City Inside page on my site. Here we go:
"Samit Basu’s latest novel is a masterclass in smart, human-driven science fiction, told with delectable wit and gorgeous, visually-driven prose... Basu’s multilayered New Delhi—an endless onion of caste politics, feckless celebrity shenanigans, guerilla activism, and the unpredictable seethe and roil of its everyday people—is at once chaotic and instantly recognizable." - Alexis Ong, Tor.com
"...Basu's extraordinary vision of an urban future that isn't nearly as remote as we might want it to be, and that is yet the latest example of what seems to be a remarkable period in Indian and South Asian SFF" - Gary K Wolfe, Locus magazine
Guest feature on Sarah Gailey's Stone Soup: when is dystopia just the real world?
On Hello! magazine’s best holiday books list
Episode of Book Riot's SFF Yeah! which contains, among many interesting things, a very kind discussion about The City Inside.
“There’s a chilling effect to Basu’s…near-future sf epic, set in a social media–glutted world…The novel’s theme, that the truth does not and cannot set anyone free, is as disturbing as it is thought-provoking.” – LibraryJournal
“The reader’s immersion into their world is truly felt in the conflicts that follow in trying to find a way to be true to oneself when, as one character sums it all up, “What is the point of this tech if it can’t tell us the truth?”” – Booklist
“Part cyberpunk thriller and part lunatic satire, The City Inside imagines a surveillance-state version of Delhi beset by futuristic traps and wonders, at once claustrophobic and brimming with possibility.” – The Philadelphia Inquirer
“As history might prove, the mass uprising of the poor, as envisioned by Indi, rarely affects a sustainable shift in the dynamics of power imbalance, especially against an insidious, all-pervasive system. Basu thus creates a cautionary tale of a possible future, leaving us only with an outline of how to navigate it.” – SFRA Review
“Samit Basu manages to pack in a ton of great ideas, character development and worldbuilding. It’s also a book that contains a heaping pile of heart, humor and positivity, offering up some much-needed levity in these strange times we are in.” – Fan Fi Addict
“I couldn’t stop thinking about how much I was getting lost in the world. And the entire themes of cyberpunk and the ethical ramifications – I loved it. How Basu asks us how our value of reality, illusions, and truth change.” – Utopia State of Mind
” The City Inside made me sad in my favorite way to be sad—the way that pushes me to think more and be more present in my life. Samit Basu has a keen mind with a talent for societal observation, wonderful prose, and a fast-paced and direct style of storytelling that doesn’t miss the details but gets right to the point.” – The Quill To Live
“The writing is an absolute treat. It’s dense, in the descriptive and absorbing sense; it’s deeply evocative; and still entirely readable. I enjoyed every minute of the reading even while I was completely horrified by the experiences of the characters.” – Randomalex.net
“The City Inside is a story that shows how ill-prepared the world is for the inequality we live under to reach its conclusion. I found this novel just as unsettling as a good Black Mirror episode for how deeply the author seems to understand where we are as a society.” – Black Nerds Create
“That might actually be one of the sicker realizations of The City Inside, the part where I could see myself living in this world because Basu makes it seem so inevitable.” – GeeklyInc
Back in a bit
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