Amazon, Dennis Kelly to Adapt the Culture Space Opera ‘Consider Phlebas’ for TV

Iain M. Banks novel sees a utopian society dragged into war

Dennis Kelly

Amazon is set to adapt Iain M. Banks’ first novel about the Culture, “Consider Phlebas,” into a space opera fit for streaming television. It’ll have help from Dennis Kelly (pictured above), who will write the TV series. Plan B Entertainment will produce, and Banks’ estate gets an executive producer credit.

“Consider Phlebas” draws upon the mythology Banks created in the Culture, in which a highly advanced, utopian society ends up at war with the Idirans, a deeply religious, warlike race intent on dominating the entire galaxy.

The story centers on Horza, a rogue agent tasked by the Idirans with the impossible mission of recovering a missing Culture “Mind,” an artificial intelligence many thousands of times smarter than any human — something that could hold the key to wiping out the Culture altogether, per Amazon’s retelling. From there, the story asks how can we use technology to preserve our humanity, and not surrender it?

“The story of the Culture is so rich and captivating that for years Hollywood has been trying to bring this utopian society to life on the screen,” said Sharon Tal Yguado, head of Scripted Series at Amazon Studios. “We are honored that we have been chosen, along with Dennis Kelly and Plan B Entertainment, to make ‘Consider Phlebas’ into a television series we think will be loved by fans for years to come.”

“Iain Banks has long been a hero of mine, and his innate warmth, humor and humanism shines through these novels,” said Kelly. “Far from being the dystopian nightmares that we are used to, Banks creates a kind of flawed paradise, a society truly worth fighting for — rather than a warning from the future, his books are a beckoning.”

“We revere the work of Iain Banks and continue to be moved by his inimitable spirit and his commitment to imagining a better future even in the darkest of times,” added Plan B. “‘Consider Phlebas,’ simultaneously explores the deepest questions concerning humanity and our future. We are so grateful to the Estate of Iain Banks for the opportunity to bring his work to life, and to Amazon for the scope of their ambition to building Iain’s prescient world.”