The Terror being prepped for AMC

Posted by CB Droege

A serialized adaptation of the novel is headed to AMC, a network that is probably best known for its wildly popular adaptation of The Walking Dead.

 In 1844, Sir John Franklin, a veteran of the English Navy and a seasoned explorer of the Arctic, set out to explore the northern coast of Canada with two ships, the HMS Terror and the HMS Erebus.

When he did not return on schedule, the Navy sent out a search mission, but they found nothing. Subsequent searches turned up only clues of their passage, and stories of their port stops, but still no ships. Over a hundred years later, scientists examined the remains of some crewmen who had died early in the expedition, and found evidence of pneumonia, scurvy, and lead poisoning, as well as cut marks on the bones which indicated cannibalism. The current theory is that the three conditions which lead to these men’s deaths probably did in all of both crews eventually, and the ships were left to drift. To date, the ships have still not been located.

Dan Simmons’ 2007 novel, The Terror, tells the fictionalized story of this lost expedition. In his story, the expedition is beset by a mythological monster from the Inuit culture, the native peoples of that region of the world. The monster, called the Tuunbaq, is basically a giant polar bear, which harasses the crew for a time before destroying one of the ships, and eventually disabling the other. The crew are then forced to go land-bound, and the monster, with the help of disease and crew infighting, decimates the party. I won’t spoil the ending for you, but it’s not an entirely happy one.

This week, the increasingly-misnamed American Movie Classics (AMC) Network has announced that they’ve ordered a pilot for a television series based on the book. The episode will be produced by Ridley Scott’s Scott Free Productions, among others, and is being written by David Kajganich, who is also working on readapting The Stand for a new film from Warner Bros.

What would the series look like? I would guess at a combination of The Walking Dead (for the infighting and drama on the crew) and LOST (for the story-telling style), except with lots of snow and set in the 1840s - don’t even need to add in a mysterious polar bear; LOST already has that covered.

AMC has been doing well for themselves with some high production value television series, especially The Walking Dead. It’ll be interesting to see if they can pull it off in a completely different setting.

No premiere date has been announced for The Terror, but they’ll have to work fast if they want it ready in time for the 2013 pilot season. If you want to spoil the story before then, you can pick the book up wherever you buy your books, including Amazon.