Deadline reports that the Russian sci-fi novel Roadside Picnic is being developed as a TV series over at WGN America.
The brothers who wrote the book, Arkady and Boris Strugatsky, are both deceased, so this adaptation will be going forward without their input. Picking up writing duties in their stead will be Transcendence‘s Jack Paglan, with Game of Thrones and Terminators Genysis‘s Alan Taylor directing.
And what is Roadside Picnic about?
Roadside Picnic is set in an alternate timeline where a mysterious extraterrestrial event known as the “Visitation” occurs in six locations around the world for approximately two days. The aliens themselves are not actually witnessed though, we only know about their visit due to what they left behind.
After their departure, these six locations (a few square kilometers each) begin to exhibit bizarre, often dangerous properties. Additionally, these Visitation Zones, as they come to be known, contain numerous “artifacts,” alien objects with supernatural powers.
The world governments have quarantined these Zones, prohibiting anyone from entering, aside from official scientific research. However, a subculture of people known as Stalkers emerges, those willing to brave the dangers of the Zones in order to retrieve artifacts, which can be quite lucrative on the black market.
The novel follows one such Stalker over the course of eight years, culminating in his search for the Golden Sphere, a legendary artifact that can supposedly grant wishes.
How will this world be translated to the screen?
That, we don’t have any specific details on yet, but as you can probably tell, the concept is pretty wide open to telling any number of stories.
And in fact, it’s already played host to several adaptations so far. The two best known are a film adaptation by Andrei Tarkovsky, as well as a video game series, both of which are titled Stalker. While each is a pretty loose interpretation of the book, the elements they have in common are the Zones, filled with dangerous anomalies and valuable artifacts, and the idea of some kind of wish granting power deep within it.
I wouldn’t be surprised if WGN’s series will be drawing from the same inspirations. We’ll be sure to keep an eye on this one as it develops.