This past weekend at the SETICon convention in Santa Clara, CA, Robert J. Sawyer announced he was currently working on developing his WWW trilogy of books with noted tv producer Brannon Braga. This is not the first time that Sawyer and Braga have worked together, their earlier attempt to bring Sawyer’s Flashforward to the small screen ended after only one season, which he blames on the shows budget being higher than that of V, another dead ABC show, and the network’s unllingness to have a heavy sci-fi lineup.
The WWW Trilogy centers on a young blind math genius, Caitlin Decter, who receives an implant to restore her sight. Instead of allowing Caitlin to see the world around her for the first time, the implant seemingly gives her the ability to see a colorful sea of data that is the internet. It is in this wash of digital information that she can see something no one else does, the birth of an internet spawned artificial intelligence called the “Webmind”. The WWW Trilogy follows Caitlin and the “Webmind” as the world comes to grips with the super-intelligent life form that it has created seemingly by accident.
I had a chance to ask Sawyer about his thoughts on the current state of the publishing industry with the rise of e-publishing, and he said that it plays no small part in why he is actively seeking tv and film deals…
It’s in enormous trouble. And to be perfectly blunt and honest, one of the reasons I’ve been working so hard to parley what success I had with Flash Forward into more film and television work is, I’m convinced there’ll be a film and tv industry 10 years from now, I’m not convinced there’ll be a traditional publishing industry 10 years from now.
Sawyer blames the decline of the traditional publishing industry on the fractured nature of writer’s groups…
Unfortunately writer’s groups are useless. Writers for television have a single voice, the Writers Guild of America … and they go and argue and fight for our rights with everybody, but science fiction writers have a separate professional organization from mystery writers, from romance writers… divide and conquer. The publishers said your share will be 25% on net proceeds on ebooks, and that’s not enough…I’m making real efforts to transition my principle income stream away from publishing.
If Sawyer is right, then this may mark an influx of successful novelists into film and television. While I could do without another sub-par Stephen King adaptation, I think we’d all benefit from more sci-fi authors crossing over. Are you listening Peter F. Hamilton?