Way back in the dark ages of 2012, it was announced that not only was a big-screen adaptation of Snow Crash on the way but that it would be written and directed by Joe Cornish. Considered one of the most influential sci-fi stories of all time, Neal Stephenson’s bonkers 1992 cyberpunk novel appeared to be in great hands to be adapted for live-action as at the time Cornish was a red-hot commodity having helmed the breakout sci-fi hit Attack the Block. The script that the British filmmaker produced for Paramount Pictures was reportedly so good that Stephenson himself called it “amazing”… and then nothing happened.
In what would become a trend in Cornish’s career, despite all the creative promise, the production would just fall flat for undisclosed reasons. And that’s where it stayed until it was revealed in 2017 that Amazon was looking to include an adaptation of Snow Crash as part of its massive big-budget push for high profile sci-fi/fantasy content on Amazon Prime… and again we heard nothing after that.
However, you apparently can’t keep a good adaptation down as Deadline reports that a Snow Crash TV series adaptation is alive and kicking again. This time the production has jumped streaming services to join the recently announced HBO Max’s rather impressive lineup. But while the venue has changed there’s still some familiarity here as HBO has tapped Cornish to direct the series. His “amazing” feature film script clearly won’t be used here for this extended format and screenwriter Michael Bacall (Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, 21 Jump Street, Project X) has been brought in to pen the entire series as well as act as co-showrunner with Angela Robinson (The L Word).
As Deadline mentions, Stephenson’s dystopian epic is a vastly layered piece of storytelling, touching on “history, linguistics, anthropology, archaeology, religion, computer science, politics, cryptography, memetics and philosophy.” A TV series format will definitely give its crazy story a lot more time to breathe. And it is crazy, as you can see from this synopsis:
In California of the near future, when the U.S. is only a “Burbclave” (city-state), the Mafia is just another franchise chain (CosaNostrastet Pizza, Incorporated) and there are no laws to speak of, Hiro Protagonist – that’s the character’s name – a computer hacker/samurai swordsman/pizza delivery driver, follows clues from the Bible, ancient Sumer and high technology to help thwart an attempt to take control of civilization–such as it is.
When he logs on to Metaverse, an imaginary place entered via computer, Hiro encounters Juanita Marquez, a “radical” Catholic and computer whiz. She warns him off Snow Crash (a street drug named for computer failure) and gives him a file labeled Babel (as in Tower of Babel). Another friend, sp ok/pk Da5id, who ignores Juanita’s warning, computer crashes out of Metaverse into the real world, where he physically collapses. Hiro, Juanita, Y.T. (a freewheeling, skateboard-riding courier) and sundry other Burbclave and franchise power figures see some action on the way to finding out who is behind this bizarre “drug” with ancient roots.
I’ve always firmly been of the opinion that Cornish should be way more famous than he is. Yes, The Kid Who Would Be King was not the greatest of returns to movies for him last year, but even in there you could see snatches of his incredible talent. Hopefully, he’ll actually the opportunity to really show them off again with Snow Crash… that’s if it actually gets made this time around.
Last Updated: December 18, 2019