Game of Thrones showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss are teaming with filmmaker Rian Johnson to tackle an adaptation of Liu Cixin‘s renowned Chinese sci-fi book The Three-Body Problem and its sequels. The series will be developed for Netflix, who announced that Benioff and Weiss will write the series alongside Alexander Woo (showrunner of AMC’s The Terror). Johnson will executive produce.
The Three-Body Problem focuses on the story of humanity’s first contact with an alien civilisation. It spans immense tracts of time and space, won the 2015 Hugo award, and has helped inspire a wave of Chinese science fiction.
The first book was published in 2014, and Netflix was granted the rights to produce and English-language adaptation with Cixin serving as a consulting producer and Ken Liu, who penned the English translation, also serving as a consulting producer.
Benioff and Weiss adapting another popular book series is an interesting move. Although they had initial success adapting Game Of Thrones, they faced fan backlash in the latter seasons when the show went downhill after George R.R. Martin‘s source material ran out.
Netflix – like every other network and streaming platform – are obviously hoping to find the next Game Of Thrones by literally hiring the same people and giving them another epic book series to adapt. However, Cixin’s books have been called “unfilmable” because of how much hard sci-fi there is (though to be fair, the same was said about Game Of Thrones).
Also, because the books are more about ideas than characters – “I did not begin writing for love of literature, I did so for love of science”, said Cixin last year – the characters are mostly a blank slate for scientific ideas and theories, so Benioff and Weiss may have to do some tinkering to make each person within the story relatable.
Finally, Cixin’s novels rely heavily on Chinese culture and history, and every important character is Chinese. Yet Benioff and Weiss don’t exactly have the greatest track record with race, either on Thrones or with their misguided, quickly-scrapped follow-up Confederate. Will the cast be predominantly Chinese? As great and true to the books as that would be, it seems unlikely.
Woo, Cixin and Liu’s involvement obviously helps – “having Cixin and Ken involved will help ensure that the spirit of the books remains intact”, the Netflix blog post said – but if Benioff and Weiss have already stumbled into race problems, having them in charge of a show heavily reliant on Chinese culture and history doesn’t exactly sound like the smartest idea.
“Liu Cixin‘s trilogy is the most ambitious science-fiction series we’ve read”, the duo said in a statement. “Taking readers on a journey from the 1960s until the end of time, from life on our pale blue dot to the distant fringes of the universe. We look forward to spending the next years of our lives bringing this to life for audiences around the world”.
Woo added: “The Three-Body Problem trilogy combines so many things I love: rich, multi-layered characters and true existential stakes – all told as an elegant and deeply human allegory. I’m thrilled to kick off my partnership with Netflix with this accomplished creative team”.
It’s unclear right now whether Benioff, Weiss and Woo are showrunning together, or whether the latter is doing so solo, with the GoT duo just writing the show. Either way, this project is a part of Benioff and Weiss’ overall deal with Netflix to produce original films and TV shows, which they signed after backing out of their planned Star Wars movie at Lucasfilm.
Time will tell whether this is indeed the next Game Of Thrones, or if it makes Benioff and Weiss even more of the internet’s punching bag.