Released a couple of weeks ago to a resounding whimper, Johnny Depp’s Transcendence is one of the year’s biggest disappointments, both critically and financially. (It’s only made $21 million domestically.) But producers Kate Cohen and Marisa Polvino, through their Straight-Up Films banner, aren’t afraid to head right back into high-concept science fiction for their next project, a feature adaptation of award-winning author Richard K. Morgan’s futuristic novel Thirteen, or Th1RTe43n if we’re being e-leet-ists. There’s no time like the present to create a new future.
First published in the U.K. under the name Black Man in 2007, Thirteen takes place in a future where the U.S. government went through with their plans to creat an army of genetically engineered super-soldiers, called Thirteens, who would serve as an ultimate militia. But after the public deems them all mutants instead of humans, the entire group is forced into exile on a Mars colony. (Because yeah, there’s also a Mars colony.)
Except our main character, Carl Marsalis, found a way to escape, returning to Earth as a bounty hunter, only to get thrown into prison after he was discovered in a police sting. Thirteens aren’t welcome in prisons, and Marsalis has only one chance to secure his freedom: he must track down and capture another fugitive Thirteen, one who has taken over a space shuttle and murdered its crew. When you’re a soldier designed to battle to the death, manhunts is child’s play. Except of course for all the violence and corruption and other problems he faces along the way.
As you can read on the cover above, Thirteen won the 2008 Arthur C. Clarke Award, and should thus have someone with the same caliber putting the screenplay together. That duty falls to writer/director Kenny Golde, who wrote the now-in-theaters drama Walking With the Enemy, as well as the upcoming Isaac Asimov adaptation End of Eternity and the Jean-Luc Herbulot-directed thriller Forsaken. Unfortunately, there’s no word just yet on who might step up and direct.
I can’t imagine this will be made as a tentpole film meant to attract the masses, unless it somehow goes into production around the same time as Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner sequel/prequel, allowing theaters to bill them as a “When Do Gen-Mod People Stop Being People?” double feature.
The London-born Morgan is probably best known for his Takeshi Kovacs series, for which he won the Philip K. Dick Award in 2003. His other work includes the A Land Fit for Heroes series, featuring a gay protagonist, as well as the video games Crysis 2 and Syndicate. Plus, he wrote a couple of Black Widow graphic novels for Marvel. Should Thirteen become a success in any way, expect Hollywood to flock to the rest of his work soon after.