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AMC is developing a sci-fi show based on Ken Liu’s short stories

AMC is developing a sci-fi show based on Ken Liu’s short stories


The network has opened up a writer’s room for the animated show

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Image: Clarkesworld Magazine / Art: Kuldar Leement

Ken Liu is one of science fiction’s most celebrated writers working today. In addition to translating Cixin Liu’s acclaimed Three Body Problem and Death’s End, he’s also earned numerous awards, most significantly for his short story, “The Paper Menagerie”. Now, it looks as though his works could reach a new audience: AMC is developing series based on his works called Pantheon, according to Deadline.

If it’s produced, Pantheon will be an animated show “based on a series of short stories by [Liu] about uploaded intelligence,” reports Deadline. Craig Silverstein, who created and produced AMC’s American revolution drama Turn, will serve as showrunner, producer, and writer.

The network has set up a writer’s room to develop the series, something that it’s done with other TV projects like its upcoming adaptation of Joe Hill’s NOS4A2. In this situation, the network skips filming a pilot episode, and instead develops the entire series or season, and makes the decision whether or not to greenlight the show based on what comes out of the writer’s room. It’s an increasingly common strategy that outlets like AMC and Amazon have begun to adopt.

Liu has a wide body of work for AMC to work with, and frequently writes about the future of technology and its impact on humanity

Liu has a wide body of work for Silverstein and AMC to work with: since he broke into the speculative fiction literary scene in 2002, he’s written more than a hundred science fiction and fantasy short stories. The future implications of technology is a frequent topic of his, and stories such as “Simulacrum” and “Staying Behind,” specifically look at simulating uploading human minds into computers. Deadline hasn’t revealed what stories are going to be adapted.

Liu’s work has been adapted before, but not by a major studio or network. Last year, filmmaker David Gaddie released a short filmed called Beautiful Dreamer which adapted his 2012 short story “Memories of My Mother,” while Chinese-based DMG Entertainment optioned his epic fantasy novel The Grace of Kings in 2016, eyeing the novel as the basis for a larger film franchise. This also isn’t the only science fiction show that AMC has in the works: last year, it announced that it was developing a series based on a story by Ted Chiang — the author of “Stories of your Life”, the basis for the movie Arrival.

Disclosure: Liu contributed a short story for a book I edited, War Stories: New Military Science Fiction.