Post-Apocalypse Sci-Fi Classic Novel Finally Being Adapted

By Jeffrey Rapaport | Updated

Good news for fans of Swan Song, Robert McCammon’s critically acclaimed post-apocalyptic novel: it’s slated to make a long-awaited debut on the small screen. Sci-fans and bookworms should relish seeing McCammon’s bold vision brought to life by Greg Nicotero, the principal creative responsible for The Walking Dead.

An Influential Post-Apocalyptic Tale

The novel’s harrowing, captivating survival narrative, enriched by supernatural intrigue, takes place in an America devastated by nuclear war with the USSR. The book’s post-nuclear, dystopian wastes, where monstrous creatures and hostile demonic forces run amok, rivals the best/worst of the other post-apocalyptic stories it certainly influenced.

Readers devoured the Bram Stoker-award-winning novel when it was first published in 1987 (it was actually tied for the award with Stephen King’s MiseryThe Stand, also penned by the latter, clearly influenced Swan Song).

The adaptation, if faithfully handled, should make for good television

Greg Nicotero Of The Walking Dead Fame Producing

This is especially true because Greg Nicotero, the director, producer, and makeup artist renowned for his work on The Walking Dead, is leading the creative charge. Frequent collaborator Brian Witten will also joins Nicotero. Nicotero, ever the horror and post-apocalyptic content veteran, is set to executive produce through Monster Agency and couldn’t be more ideal. Excitingly, the novel’s author, Robert McCammon, is also among the long list of other executive producers signed onto the project. In addition to his production duties, Nicotero will direct the series’ pilot episode.

Swan Song has always been a favorite of Nicotero’s, the creative opined. The tale of humans enduring a post-apocalyptic world ravaged by nuclear war–a world teaming with supernatural baddied—well, no surprises here: Nicotero has long been a Stan.  

What Is Swan Song About?

For those who haven’t read the book, McCammon’s novel follows various survivors of the nuclear war, one which effectively ends civilization. Principally: Josh Hutchins and Swan, a girl with special powers, who hole up in a Kansas gas station; a homeless woman named Sister Creep, wandering through New York City; and Colonel Macklin and teenager, Roland Croninger, in Idaho. 

After Sister Creep happens upon a supernatural ring, gifting her visions of a better world, she is pursued by a demonic entity—perhaps the most frightening element of Swan Song—“The Man with the Scarlet Eye.” Meanwhile, traversing the ravaged country, Josh and Swan team up with other survivors (a la The Walking Dead), such as Rusty, a circus performer. Macklin and Roland, upon seizing control of a Utah settlement, establish a militant camp, the “Army of Excellence” (AoE).

A Beloved Horror Novel

As perhaps expected, these various factions evolve, converge, and fight—culminating in a showdown between the demonic “Man with the Scarlet Eye,” Swan (who develops the ability to reintroduce life to the lifeless wastes), and militarized dystopian baddies, etc. While the subject matter might strike veteran horror fans as all-too-familiar, Swan Song’s unique—and uniquely scary—sensibility has captivated readers for decades. It sets a high bar for a television adaptation.

From Hit Man Production Company

Luckily, the story is in capable hands. For their part, Monarch Media has already made waves through recent, well-received projects like Richard Linklater’s thriller Hit Man. Streaming giant Netflix recently scooped it up at the 2023 Toronto Film Festival for $20 million.Here’s to hoping all the talent behind Swan Song’s adaptation delivers a series worthy of its source material.