It wasn’t too long ago that I wrote a “Cabinet of Subversive Books” entry for Neal Stephenson’s sprawling, post-modern “Cryptonomicon.” The paperback version of Stephenson’s latest tome “Reamde,” a complex techno-thriller on gaming, marijuana farmers, Chinese hackers and gangsters, is hardly off the press and now we have news that Joe Cornish, writer/director of “Attack the Block,” is writing the ataptation of Stephenson’s novel “Snow Crash.”
The novel, which is in a way a satire of the cyberpunk genre, takes place in a future in which corporatization has infiltrated nearly every aspect of modern life. One character, Hero Protagonist, is a pizza delivery man by day, hacker in an immense Internet called Metaverse by night. Hiro discovers the effects of a narcotic called Snow Crash, which is a virus that infects those jacked into the Metaverse as well as individuals in reality. The rest of the plot is far too good to give a way here, so it’s best to pick up a copy and get reading.
For those who have seen Cornish’s work with “Attack the Block,” he’s definitely an inspired choice for a “Snow Crash” adaptation. As a close friend of Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg, he comes from a similar comedic and artistic ferment. All of these guys know how to fuse comedy and ideas, often surreal, a critical skill for any “Snow Crash” adaptation, which is nothing if not Pynchonian in its tone and plot.
According to a Deadline exclusive, the book’s rights were reacquired by Paramount and Kathleen Kennedy of Kennedy/Marshall will be producing. Kennedy’s known for being Stephen Spielberg’s producer, but while she’s certainly given to popular cinematic fair, she also produced “A.I: Artificial Intelligence” one of the most underrated (though flawed) and complex science fiction films ever created. She also produced “The Diving Bell & The Butterfly,” an art house film by Julian Schnabel, and one of the most underrated dark comedies of the ’80s, the great “Joe vs. The Volcano.”
With Kennedy’s power and influence in the studio system coupled with Cornish’s pop appeal and Stephenson’s source material, this could be quite a good adaptation. Whether Cornish can preserve the more subversive undercurrents of Stephenson’s novel—corporatism, anarcho-capitalism, social control, etc—is anyone’s guess, though.
While it would be a better move for filmmaking as an art form and industry to have an original screenplay of “Snow Crash’s” caliber produced, news of this adaptation is far better than the constant stream of prequels, sequels and reboots on Hollywood’s collective slate.