FX Will Bring Us An Adaptation Of Kindred by Octavia Butler, With Watchmen Producer At The Helm
This has been a big week for late sci-fi author and legend Octavia Butler. First she had a spot on the moon named after her. And now there is news that one of her famous novels will be brought to life on-screen. FX is working on an adaptation of Kindred by Octavia Butler, with Watchmen producer Branden Jacobs-Jenkins writing the script. Also onboard is director Darren Aronofsky as executive producer.
Kindred Is a Time-Travel Novel That Doubles as a Slave Narrative
Image via Penguin Random House
Butler’s bestselling novel Kindred is about a young black woman – Dana – who is thrown backwards in time. This uncontrollable time-travel takes her away from her modern day era of the 1970’s where she is a writer in an interracial marriage. Dana finds herself forced into slavery on a plantation years before the Civil War. The story follows the format of a slave narrative when set in the past. But the novel is a blend of many genres, including science fiction. Butler drew inspiration from famous slave narratives including as the work of Frederick Douglass. She once said that she wanted readers to “feel the history” and see how a modern day woman would survive in such harsh conditions.
Image via Octaviabutler.org
Butler also found inspiration in the black women that she knew and loved. Her own grandmother worked chopping sugar cane, and her mother worked as a housemaid. Butler saw firsthand the way black women were treated as less than human. And she gradually came to realize how much the older generations had sacrificed to provide for their children. There are a number of black women in the text that who are who are “heroic in their capacity for endurance and sacrifice in the face of exploitation.”
This is yet another adaptation of the author’s work coming to live-action. Amazon will adapt two series from Octavia Butler, an adaptation of Dawn is forthcoming – the first book of the Xenogenesis trilogy- with Ava DuVernay at the helm. There is also Wild Seed being co-written by Nnedi Okorafor.
Branden Jacobs-Jenkins has The Skills to Bring Kindred to Life
Branden Jacobs-Jenkins | Image via The MacArthur Foundation
Watchmen producer and playwright Branden Jacobs-Jenkins is well-versed in the historical knowledge necessary for an adaptation of Butler’s work. He has won awards for several of his plays including An Octoroon that explore race, identity, and social constructs. He was a recipient of the MacArthur Genius Fellowship in 2016, an honor he shares with Octavia Butler herself who received the award in 1995. Of course he also worked on Watchmen, an adaptation that explored the same themes in a genre television format. This will be his first time writing an adaptation for television. But we are confident that he has the skills to do Butler’s story justice.
“Since my first encounter with the novel nearly two decades ago, there have been few, if any, books and even fewer authors who have meant as much to me as Kindred and Octavia Butler,” said Jacobs-Jenkins. “It has been the highlight and honor of my career thus far to try and finally bring this timeless story to life — and especially at FX, whose catalogue of bold, thought-provoking, and cutting-edge television has been an endless source of inspiration and delight.”
The Kindred Adaptation Brings in Some Big-Names to Produce
Photo by Harry Murphy via Wikimedia Commons
The inclusion of Darren Aronofsky as executive producer on the Kindred series is an intriguing choice. But given the horror elements of the story, it makes sense to bring in the director of Requiem For a Dream and Black Swan. Aronofsky is also adept at genre work, as evidenced by films like The Fountain. This adaptation, as well as the two in development at Amazon, are great news for Octavia Butler fans because these series will introduce her bold storytelling to a whole new generation.
No word yet on who will play the role of Dana in the upcoming adaptation of Kindred by Octavia Butler for FX. But we will definitely keep you updated as the series develops. Stay tuned to Comic Years on Facebook and Twitter for more.
Emily O'Donnell is a writer and photographer with roots in some of the earliest online fandoms. She cut her genre teeth on the Wizard of Oz books at the tender age of 6 years old, and was reading epic adult fantasy novels by the age of 10. Decades later, she still consumes genre fiction like there is no tomorrow. She is delighted to be living through the golden age of sci-fi and fantasy popularity. She is unashamed of the amount of fanfiction that still lingers online under her name.