Ann Leckie's science fiction books have been optioned for television — although she knows what a longshot that can be.
The author of the Hugo- and Nebula-winning "Ancillary Justice" blogged last month:
"Now, 'optioned' doesn’t necessarily mean that anything is going to actually happen – things get optioned and then never made, quite frequently.
The companies that optioned the rights are Fabrik and Fox Television Studios, she says. "They have previously worked together on THE KILLNG for four seasons on AMC and Netflix, and they started their relationship with BURN NOTICE, which ran for seven Seasons on USA."
This week, pressed for someone to star as Breq, she responded by email:
"I really don't have any ideas about casting. I've seen a few readers talk about who they'd like to see, even before the option happened, and that's been really cool. But I don't really have any ideas about who would play who, let alone who would play Breq!"
There are many issues with portraying a space opera on screen, but Leckie's book has the additional problem that in the world of "Ancillary Justice," gender is difficult to determine (the default pronoun is "she") and that the character Breq is a former spaceship.
But despite all that, one of Leckie's concerns is that her dark-skinned characters not be played by white actors/actresses. She said by email:
"The whitewashing — I don't know how (or if) its common in other genres to put illustrations of main characters on book covers, but it happens a fair amount in science fiction and fantasy —and romance, I think — and sometimes a character will be, say, black, but the cover painting will show them as white. This happened when Octavia Butler's Xenogenisis trilogy was first published — the protagonist is a black woman, but she's pictured on the cover as a blonde white woman. That's whitewashing — basically erasing or denying the presence of non-white characters. It happens in movies and TV as well — there's a website called Racebending that if I recall correctly was started when the casting for "Avatar: The Last Airbender" was announced. The specific incident I mentioned in my blog post was SyFy's production of Ursula K LeGuin's Earthsea trilogy, in which nearly all the characters were dark-skinned, but the producers cast all white people. LeGuin was quite unhappy about that.
"Nearly all the characters in 'Ancillary Justice' who get a description are described with dark skin. That's on purpose. I would be pretty unhappy if a production of 'Ancillary Justice' was cast all white."
In her blog she wrote that she had discussed the topics of whitewashing and gender with Fabrik and "was very pleased with their response. And in fact, if I had been the least bit unhappy with how that conversation came out, I would not be writing this blog post now."
In the meantime, her second book in her trilogy, "Ancillary Sword," appears to have been hurt somewhat by Amazon's not taking pre-orders for most Hachette books.
She wrote, "I don't doubt my first day sales would have been noticeably higher if Amazon had allowed pre-orders."
But she's still happy with sales:
"The second book is selling pretty well! At this stage, it's difficult to have precise numbers, but I'm really happy with what information I've gotten so far. It's also given a nice boost to sales of 'Ancillary Justice'!"