Neal Stephenson’s classic cyberpunk novel Snow Crash (1992) is an oft referenced starting point for many in the VR scene. Now, a Deadline exclusive holds that HBO Max is officially developing a TV series out of the novel.
According to Deadline, Michael Bacall (21 Jump Street) has signed on as the show’s writer, with Joe Cornish (The Kid Who Would Be King) directing.
Both Bacall and Cornish will serve as executive producers alongside co-showrunner Angela Robinson (The L Word), Frank Marshall, Robert Zotnowski, and the novelist himself, Neal Stephenson. The show is being developed under Paramount TV, a division of Paramount Pictures, a unit of ViacomCBS.
Bacall is known for his work on the screenplay for 21 Jump Street (2012) and Scott Pilgrim vs the World (2010). Cornish is known for having directed Attack the Block (2011) and for having written The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn (2011) and Ant-Man (2015).
There’s no word yet on the show’s cast, or when it’s set to release.
Well before the Internet took its hold on the public psyche, Snow Crash took a few prescient steps farther as an early pioneer of the VR headspace, coining the word ‘Metaverse’ and painting a picture of a world canopied by a virtual layer that essentially runs like a massive multiplayer online game (MMO).
As with all TV adaptations, it’ll be interesting to see how faithful Snow Crash is handled, or whether it gets a major overhaul like in another recent VR novel brought life, Ernest Cline’s 2011 novel Ready Player One, which was admittedly puffed out into a Hollywood action film by Steven Spielberg in 2018, losing a bit of its gleefull nerdiness in the process.
Snow Crash was notably first slated to go the movie route, with Cornish tapped as director, but it was later shelved. Talking to SyFy back in January 2019, Cornish said that he wanted to get it right, but that he thought it was simply too complex to do justice at the time in movie form:
“Snow Crash in particular needs to be done right,” Cornish told SyFy. “There’s no point in doing Snow Crash unless it’s as clever as the book is; there’s no point in doing the dumbed down version. That’s a [film] project where I’d rather not do it than do it wrong, and that’s a question of finding someone who really loves it as much as we do. But anything’s possible.”
Considering it’s supposed to be a long-format series, we’re hoping it has enough space to digest the novel’s take on anarcho-capitalism, religion, immigration, language, and the monolithic metaverse—all of it hopefully realized to awesome early ’90s retro-future effect.