Earth citizens of the future may look back on cinema in the late 20th and early 21st century and assume that Philip K. Dick was the only successful science fiction writer that ever lived, considering how often Hollywood dips into his bibliography. As a fan, I see little wrong with this, and the most recently announced adaptation of his work has me quite excited and intrigued. Electric Shepherd Productions, the production imprint of the Dick estate, will be producing a feature adaptation of the 1964 novel Martian Time-Slip, and they’ve tapped Dee Rees to direct.
Beyond the story’s obvious potential merit as a film, it’s Rees’ involvement that makes this project so interesting. Martian Time-Slip will be her second feature, following the 2011 film festival favorite Pariah, which won Rees the Excellence in Cinematography Award at Sundance, as well as a Grand Jury Prize nomination. It tells the story of a 17-year-old Brooklyn girl whose life begins to revolve dramatically around her accepting her identity as a lesbian. It may not be the most distant storyline from the science fiction genre, but it’s certainly in the running.
Deadline reports Rees will also be scripting the adaptation, which tells the story of a schizophrenic repairman living in a human colony on Mars as a way of coping with his condition. Personal politics, an autistic and nearly magical child named Manfred, Martian bushmen and time travel all converge into a pretty excellent story, which Dick expanded from the novella All We Marsmen, which he published in parts via Worlds of Tomorrow magazine in 1963.
Last year, Rees was tapped to direct the drama This Man, This Woman for producer Mike Lobell which told the story of a divorced couple who confront their past while sitting together on a long flight. That project sounded much more in tune with the heavy drama of Pariah. She was also attached to direct the thriller Bolo, but it’s unclear where either of these projects are in their development stages.
This film would make it a busy year for Electric Shepherd Productions, which last produced 2011’s The Adjustment Bureau. They’ve also got the Michel Gondry-directed telepathy drama Ubik, Disney’s animated version of Dick’s lone fantasy novel King of the Elves, and Marc Forster’s adaptation of the reality-distorting short story The Electric Ant in development.
There’s no sign of whether or not they would be involved with the potential Blade Runner sequel that Ridley Scott and Harrison Ford have been talking about for a while now. Below is the trailer for Blade Runner, the first Dick adaptation to make it to the big screen.