You might say that naming a naval ship the ‘HMS Terror’ is, in some ways, a bad idea – particularly when that ship is to be sent off into the Arctic wilderness in search of the Northwest Passage. But, name it they did, and a century and a half later, this forms the basis of a novel of historical fiction, by Dan Simmons, named The Terror. It is this novel that is now being adapted into an anthology series for AMC, to be executive produced by Ridley Scott.
The Terror was published in 2007 and presents a fictionalized account of the quest of Sir John Franklin, as he led an expedition into the Arctic Circle – the personnel of which were aboard the HMS Erebus and the HMS Terror. Both ships were trapped in ice near King William Island for more than a year, and the harsh environment – coupled with increasing disease and starvation – wrought havoc among the crews, as did a sinister monster that they referred to as ‘The Terror.’
In reality, 129 men were lost in the expedition, and controversial evidence found in later years suggested that cannibalism had played a part in the demise of many.
David Kajganich (The Invasion, Blood Creek, A Bigger Splash) is writing the adaptation and will serve as co-showrunner, alongside Soo Hugh (The Killing, Under The Dome). Kajganich explained his excitement at working on a show that promises great storytelling.
“Dan’s novel is that rare combination of fascinating actual history, ground-breaking genre storytelling, and the complex character work of literature. The chance to launch a series that will incorporate all of these elements going forward, and with a team of this caliber, is extraordinary.”
For co-showrunner, Soo Hugh, it is the AMC viewers that drive the ambition of the series.
“As a long-time fan of Dan Simmons, the opportunity to join this project is a dream come true. We look forward to bringing this story to life for the passionate AMC audience.”
Joel Stillerman, president of original programming and development for AMC and SundanceTV, described how the network has been nurturing this project for a number of years, having found the source material deeply compelling.
“We’ve been focused on developing this incredible story for television with these great partners for a couple of years, and we think it provides rich dramatic material but also an opportunity to explore the anthology format, which is something we’re extremely interested in and offers some unique possibilities. Originality is still something that gets our attention every day, and the very unique mixing of historical non-fiction with a gripping and imaginative science fiction overlay in Dan’s novel is something that we hadn’t seen before. That, combined with an exceptional team behind the project made this something we really wanted to bring to air on AMC.”
There are currently no confirmations of casting, nor of any directors attached to The Terror – but a series of ten hourlong episodes are now scheduled to air some time during 2017.