Monday, March 14, 2022

Jason Sheehan's "Children of the Flying City"

Jason Sheehan is an award-winning freelance journalist and author. In addition to being a book and video game critic for NPR, he has published three books for adults.

Here he dreamcasts an adaptation of Children of the Flying City, his first book for young readers:
I have played this game since the day I started writing Children Of The Flying City. Since before I started writing, actually. My first page of notes has a cryptic mention of "Old John Hurt but 8 feet tall" in reference to a supporting character called Judocus the Fish--one of the strangest people in a book absolutely full of people who aren't what you think they are.

My most consistent dreamcasting has been of the Captain--a smuggler and gun-runner hired to go to the Flying City, run the blockade and kidnap (or possibly rescue?) one of the three children at the heart of this story, Milo Quick. The Captain is young, handsome, talented and sly. He's capable of doing terrible things with a smile, of lying through his teeth and convincing almost anyone of almost anything. Harry Styles (yeah, the ex-boy-band singer turned rock star) has been my Captain for longer than I can even remember. It's never been anyone else.

Milo himself is tough to cast. A clever, haunted 13 year old who has already seen the worst of the world and refused to let it break him? That's a tall order. Sunny Pawar from The Lion, maybe? He has Milo's smile for sure. Noah Schnapp in season 2 of Stranger Things can do haunted. A young Danial Kaluuya (with access to a time machine) for Milo's best friend Jules. Elle Fanning with a black wig and terrible secrets to play Dagda. Honestly, the three young leads would probably best be played by unknown actors. They live in my head as entirely their own people.

Ben Kingsley, on the other hand, was born to play the Captain's scheming navigator, Semyon Beli. And the fearsome, unstoppable, murderous Ennis Arghdal has got to be either Idris Elba or Tom Hardy. They'd both have to lose their accents, but I can't think of any other actors who could embody both the explosive violence and gruff tenderness that exist inside Ennis, who has been tasked with secretly watching over Milo for years, acting as both guardian angel and boogeyman to this child who has never known an adult he could trust. Elba had that as the Commandant in Beasts Of No Nation. Hardy had it (plus the walk of a man who is just murder on two legs) in Taboo. They're my guys.

So all of that (plus an 8-foot-tall John Hurt and Chloe Zhao to direct) and we've got it: Nomadland with airships. The movie that's been playing in my head for years.
Follow Jason Sheehan on Twitter.

--Marshal Zeringue