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.

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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.

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  • Max

    Well hopefully the source material not being hot garbage will give it a leg up on ready player one..

    • impurekind

      From the little I read of Snow Crash and a full read of Ready Player One, I think Ready Player One is an order of magnitude better than the convoluted mess that is Snow Crash. Reading the start of Snow Crash reminded me very much of a game like Daikatana–and that is not a good thing.

      • adsf

        “after reading the first few paragraph, I wrote the entire thing off” dude chill out on your critique, you didnt even read the whole thing.

        • impurekind

          It started shit and it put me off the rest, what can I say.

  • Hivemind9000

    From 21 Jump Street to Snow Crash. Seems like a logical step. What could go wrong?

    • kuhpunkt

      Craig Mazin wrote/directed horrible garbage like Superhero movie and then wrote Chernobyl, one of the best shows of the entire year. What could go wrong?

      • Hivemind9000

        Yeah, no, that is an example of what could go right.

  • So one of the producers made a famous cop show series and a fun conversion of a cult comicbook, well the other guy was involved with making a movie nobody’s heard of and a movie people would rather forget? It’s not sounding like a winning combo.

    • kuhpunkt

      21 Jump Street – the movies. Not the old show. And just because you haven’t heard of Joe Cornish doesn’t mean anything other than that you’re missing out.

  • Wednaud Ronelus

    Man!!! Are you willing to sell this copy?

  • Alexisms

    I wonder whether we’ll see the anti-rape device of a syringe inside the vagina that incapacitates the attacker?

  • Alexisms

    Mods… why was talking about an anti rape device in the book deleted?

  • I hope it will be better than RPO. I haven’t like the movie at all

    • david vincent

      Well the book is mainly for teens (and not to demanding ones). So is the movie…

      • Jack Liddon

        All those teens that grew up in the 80s, sure.

  • impurekind

    I don’t think this will hold up as a show. For me even the book didn’t hold up–well, I didn’t even bother reading past he first x number of pages because it just seemed like a convoluted mess of random ideas stuck together in a way that felt like a bad comic book. Also, the writing is a bit numbing isn’t exactly the easiest to read. I really do hope it is a cool show based around VR–I just want everything VR to be great and successful to be honest–but I doubt it will end up like that.

    • kimj

      lol its clearly a pretty monumental book so saying the book didnt hold up is pretty strange, especially if you didnt even finish it. The reading isnt that complicated and numbing either.

    • david vincent

      Snow Crash is super cult for being very well written, fun, smart and innovative (for the time) but it’s true the reading can be a bit demanding (there’s a whole universe to understand, and then a multiverse…).
      In sum it’s the exact opposite of Ready Player One.

    • WyrdestGeek

      I listened to it as an audiobook. It listened just fine for me.

      That’s just my opinion of course.

      • impurekind

        I’m actually going to try this because I just couldn’t keep interested reading it.

    • MosBen

      I read it a couple years ago and I don’t think that it holds up very well either. There are some prescient ideas in there, but the writing and the characters are very much products of an older era.

  • WyrdestGeek

    It could be cool.

  • Wednaud Ronelus

    I totally understand how you feel. I just wanted to immortalize the copy on your behalf. Check the work we are doing in the Alchemist Club Studios and you will understand.
    I am raising the next generation of kids who will make the ideas in Neuromancer to reality in the not too-distant future. This book deserves to be seeing by many. However, I totally understand your point and respect your decision. I have a copy of “Fall or Dodge in Hell” signed by our Guy Neal Stephenson. The future belongs to the children of the sky who are been born in this digital day and age as we speak.

  • crim3

    Time to re-read the book in preparation

  • MosBen

    This is a book that really needs to be updated.

  • 2Na

    I dunno about this. As magnificent as the book was, and as Holy as I regard it in my Cyberpunk canon, it’s charm came from Stephenson’s trademark snark metaphor cannon being fired off every second sentence. Without some form of divine intervention, that’s not something that can be put to film.