Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Sam Peters's "From Darkest Skies"

Sam Peters is a mathematician, part-time gentle-person adventurer and occasional screenwriter who has seen faces glaze over at the words ‘science fiction’ once too often. His inspirations include Dennis Potter, Mary Doria Russell, Lynda La Plante, Neal Stephenson, and Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure. He has more hopes than regrets, more cats than children, watches a lot of violent contact sport and is an unrepentant closet goth.

Here Peters dreamcasts an adaptation of his new novel, From Darkest Skies:
From Darkest Skies was optioned by a London-based production company almost two years ago with a view to making it as a TV series. Now it’s true that this happens to a lot more books than actually make it all the way to the screen. I don’t know what the hit rate is – probably less than ten percent – and even for those that make it, the time between being optioned and hitting the screen can be many, many years (fifteen, I think, for Altered Carbon, which undoubtedly shares some DNA with From Darkest Skies). The point being for both authors and readers: don’t hold your breath! But the point also being that in this case, I’ve given quite a lot of thought to who I think would be great to play each of the major characters.

From Darkest Skies is a futuristic thriller centred around intelligence agent Keon Rause, native of a colony world whose original settlers were predominantly Pacific Islanders so I’d really like Keon to be played by someone who looks like they have some of that DNA in them. A strong noir element permeates the atmosphere, too. World-weary and grieving, I’m going for Matrix-era Keanu Reeves for this.

Although notionally trying to unravel the death of a minor celebrity from an apparent drug overdose, Keon’s real goal is to discover the truth about the death, five years ago, of his wife Alysha. To help him with this, Keon has recreated his wife as a simulation embedded in Artificial Intelligence, whom he calls Liss, and this is where the heart of the story lies, in the complex and difficult relationship between Keon and Liss as they discover both separately and together that Alysha wasn’t quite who everyone thought. Although Alysha doesn’t appear in the narrative, I imagine her appearing in flashback sequences in a TV adaptation and so I’m looking for someone who can play two versions of the same character, one a construct, one the real deal. Although I originally had Alysha down as being of Persian descent, I’m going to go with Zoie Palmer because of the superb job she does of playing a very similar dual role in SyFy’s Dark Matter.

When he’s not moonlighting looking for his wife’s killer, Keon routinely works with three other agents who complete the core ensemble. Laura is taciturn, clever, possibly a little unstable and utterly at home in the shadow-world of conspiracy into which Keon descends and I can’t think of anyone I’d rather see play her than Archie Panjabi, reprising a version of The Good Wife’s Kalinda Sharma. Esh was inspired by Agent Shaw from Person of Interest so Sarah Shahi, please. Bix Rangesh has the job of bringing some levity to the show so I’m going for Danny Pudi, who played Abed in Community.
Visit Sam Peters's website.

The Page 69 Test: From Darkest Skies.

--Marshal Zeringue