The story broke a few days ago, and is now all over the internet: I am developing a new series for HBO, a science fiction show based on ROADMARKS, a novel by the late great Roger Zelazny. And what do you know — the story is actually true. Which is more than can be said about most of the stories about me that I stumble over these days, boys and girls. (I have said it before, and will say it again, but sometimes it seems no one listens. Do not believe everything you read).
Anyway… YES! We had not intended to announce anything yet, to be sure. Development is a long and uncertain process. Thousands of shows are pitched, hundreds of pilots are written, dozens of pilots are filmed, but only a very few of them ever get greenlit to series. There is a reason that Hollywood insiders call it “development hell.” And what’s the point of announcing projects that might never make it to air? That’s why HBO — like most other networks and streamers — prefers to keep these things quiet.
Even so, even so… you cannot win the lottery unless you buy a ticket, so we all keep playing.
Which brings me back to ROADMARKS.
DEADLINE was the first to break the story, but the best and most complete account appeared on the WERTZONE, here:
My career in television started in 1985 when I adapted Roger Zelazny’s “The Last Defender of Camelot” for THE TWILIGHT ZONE. It was the first script of mine ever to be filmed (starring Richard Kiley and Jenny Agutter and a stuntman whose nose got cut off during the swordfight). Roger was a friend, a mentor, and one of the greatest science fiction writers who ever lived. He died in 1995, but his work will live for so long as people read SF and fantasy. It was an honor to be able to bring one of his stories to television. And now I am hoping we will be able to do it again.
I pitched ROADMARKS to HBO last year — along with four other SF and fantasy works (by various other writers) that I thought had the makings of great shows. They all had (and have) lots of potential, but ROADMARKS was the one they responded to. A great choice, I think. ROADMARKS is not as well as known as some of Roger’s other work, like the Amber series or LORD OF LIGHT (one of the best SF novels ever written, imnsho), but at the core of it is a simply marvelous concept: the Road that extends through all of history and even into alternate timelines, ever growing, ever changing, a road that will take you anywhere if you know how to find it. Roger’s own title for the novel was LAST EXIT TO BABYLON, which gives you a hint of the flavor of the book. In Red Dorakeen, he gave us a fascinating protagonist as well, and of course there’s also Leaves and Flowers, and the Black Decade, and some wild supporting characters and bad guys. Honestly, the concept is as big as Amber and could easily have sustained a whole series of books, though Roger only penned the one. It’s our hope that it can also sustain a dozen great seasons on HBO.
But that’s a way down the… ahem… road. Right now we just have a pilot order.
We found a great writer, though. Her name is Kalinda Vazquez. I first met her five or six years back, when we worked together on a different project, trying to turn my werewolf novella “The Skin Trade” into a series for Cinemax. That was going great for a time, till it blew up for various complex legal reasons that annoy me to this day. (See what I mean about development hell?) Maybe one day we can return to it. Afterwards, Kalinda went on to write for all sorts of other shows, including STAR TREK and THE WALKING DEAD, while I… well, most of you know what I have been doing. But I am looking forward to working with her again. Although, to be honest, it is Kalinda who will be doing most of the work from this point on. I am only an executive producer. Kalinda will be writing the pilot, and if indeed we get a series order, she will be the showrunner, presiding over the writer’s room and in charge of the whole shebang. She had a great take on Willie and Randi back then, and I think she’ll do right by Red and the Road as well.
Of course, it will be a year or two before a ROADMARKS show could possibly get on the air.
While you are waiting, let me suggest you read ROADMARKS, the novel. And then NINE PRINCES IN AMBER. LORD OF LIGHT. DOORWAYS IN THE SAND. CREATURES OF LIGHT AND DARKNESS. THIS IMMORTAL. THE DREAM MASTER. Or any of the marvelous haunting evocative short stories. There was only one Roger Zelazny.
Current Mood: hopeful