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Syfy to Adapt Dick's High Castle

By February 18, 2013

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Writer/producer Frank Spotnitz.

Writer/producer Frank Spotnitz.

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Philip K. Dick is widely acknowledged as one of the must-read science fiction novelists. The Hugo and Campbell Award winning writer was both innovative and prolific, penning dozens of novels and scores of short stores exploring themes that often touch on deviation of identity--personal, cultural, and political.

Dick's works seem to inspire entertainment industry folks to want to evoke their themes in visual media, and since many of his novels are fairly concise (some of his more famous works are really novellas) it seems like a workable task. The results have been decidedly mixed, ranging from milestones in sci-fi action (Blade Runner, the original Total Recall) to forgettable also-rans (Paycheck) to forgotten failures (Impostor). When a new Dick adaptation is announced, it's fair to react with anticipation edged by a certain wary trepidation.

In this case the subject is Dick's well-known Hugo-winning tale The Man In the High Castle, which is set in a United States jointly occupied by Japan and Nazi Germany fifteen years after World War II went the other way; the venue is one of Syfy's prestige four-hour miniseries.

The writer and executive producer is Frank Spotnitz, a key writer and executive producer on The X-Files who's since worked on ABC's 2005 version of Night Stalker and Cinemax's Hunted and Strike Back--all pretty dark and gritty stuff. And, in a heartening connection for Dick and sci-fi fans, it'll be produced under Ridley Scott's Scott Free Productions nameplate.

So we look forward to answering a lot of questions. Will they make this Dick adaptation work? Many of the past film versions of Dick stories, like Minority Report, altered some key elements of the original story--how much will they feel they need to change? And can Americans today be made to feel invested in the outcome of World War II? (There's no doubt that Syfy and its partners, which include Freemantle International, will be banking on significant international sales to supplement the American viewership.)
Tags: The Man In the High Castle, Syfy, Frank Spotnitz
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