Thursday, August 22, 2019

John Birmingham's "The Cruel Stars"

John Birmingham is the author of Emergence, Resistance, Ascendance, After America, Without Warning, Final Impact, Designated Targets, Weapons of Choice, and other novels, as well as Leviathan, which won the National Award for Nonfiction at Australia’s Adelaide Festival of the Arts, and the novella Stalin’s Hammer: Rome. He has written for The Sydney Morning Herald, Rolling Stone, Penthouse, Playboy, and numerous other magazines.

Here Birmingham dreamcasts an adaptation of his new novel, The Cruel Stars:
It’s a brave or stupid writer who willingly gives away the names of the actors they imagine starring in the movie adaptation of their book. But I’m not especially brave, so here goes.

Like most writers I do have a screen adaptation of my latest book running 24/7 between my ears, but not all of the actors are stars. Some characters are based on people I know, or knew once upon a time. Others do indeed have IMDb pages.

The Cruel Stars, the space opera I’ve always wanted to write, is an ensemble piece, with five main characters telling the story. But one stands out. Lucinda Hardy. She is the first of our band of five, and her arc probably reaches the furthest and bends the most under the mass of all she has to carry. I know exactly who would play her, if I had the budget. Cobie Smulders. She has always looked like she could kick your ass three ways from Sunday, but she would also take a moment to feel bad about it.

So too with the foul mouthed and even fouler tempered 700-year-old Scotsman, Fraser McLennan, one-time admiral of the Terran Fleets, now living in self imposed exile, picking over the corpse of an enormous, derelict generation ship. This role can only be played by Dr Who. I mean Malcolm Tucker! I mean Peter Capaldi!

Look at him. He’s terrifying. Whole armadas of invading Space Nazis would quake to contemplate the bollocking he’d give them.

I have some leeway with my third pick, for Booker3, my vat-grown Terran Defence Force special operator turned political prisoner. Because Booker is a piece of software which gets poured into whatever vessel is needed for the fight ahead, anyone can play him. But only Daniel Kaluuya should. The multi-talented brit Brit is well known for his physical presence and fighting chops in Black Panther, but with his role as Chris Washington in Get Out he also has a proven ability to portray characters who’ve got in way over their heads. He’d be great at the fights, but even better at the quietly aggrieved outrage that seethes within this character.

There is no casting Sephina L’Trel, kickass lesbian, legendary space pirate, and Mistress and Commander of the Je Ne Regrette Rein. She’s based on an old friend. But if anyone was to capture this badass on screen, perhaps a young Thandie Newton might have a chance. Her gnarly physicality in West World is a good match for all of the damage Sephina absorbs and deals out when she sets her mind on vengeance in TCS.

Finally, we have Princess Alessia, first of her name, last of her clan, and super-pissed that she even has to go through with all of this princess bullshit anyway. Alessia is not like the other characters. She’s a kid for one thing. And she had no mad fighting skills or even much of a personal history of conflict. But she does have sass and she’s willing to learn. And because that there can be only one Princess Alessia for me...Maisie Williams, AKA Game of Thrones' Arya Stark.
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--Marshal Zeringue