In a post on Livejournal, Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin is speaking out and clarifies his involvement in HBO’s upcoming adaptation of Nnedi Okorafor’s ‘Who Fears Death.’
He said, “I am pleased and excited to confirm that much. I met Nnedi a few years ago, and I’m a great admirer of her work. She’s an exciting new talent in our field, with a unique voice. Even in this Golden Age of television drama, there’s nothing like WHO FEARS DEATH on the small screen at present, and if I can play a part, however small, in helping to bring this project to fruition, I’ll be thrilled. I will not be writing the pilot script or adapting Nnedi’s novel, and it’s doubtful that I will write any episodes should we go to series.”
R.R Martin clarified that he just an executive producer, but not the only one for the project. “I will be an Executive Producer on WHO FEARS DEATH but I will not be the Executive Produce, i.e. the showrunner. That’s an important distinction. Should we move forward, there will be a number of Executive Producers, and probably some Co-Executive Producers and Supervising Producers and Producers as well. This is television,” he wrote.
Martin also revealed that he and Okorafor have been interviewing “young talent” to find someone to write the pilot, and that an announcement on that may be coming soon.
He ended with, “It should be stressed that this project is still in its early stages. There’s a long road ahead. Pilot script, pilot order, series order. But the hope of everyone involved is that, by the end, we can produce something truly special.”
The novel was first optioned way back in 2010 by producer Kisha Cameron-Dingle. At the time she was the program director for Focus Features’ Africa First Film Program, which no longer exists. At that time, Kenyan filmmaker Wanuri Kahiu was attached to direct.
The full synopsis of the book reads: In a post-apocalyptic Africa, the world has changed in many ways, yet in one region genocide between tribes still bloodies the land. After years of enslaving the Okeke people, the Nuru tribe has decided to follow the Great Book and exterminate the Okeke tribe for good. An Okeke woman who has survived the annihilation of her village and a terrible rape by an enemy general wanders into the desert hoping to die. Instead, she gives birth to an angry baby girl with hair and skin the color of sand. Gripped by the certainty that her daughter is different—special—she names her child Onyesonwu, which means ―Who Fears Death? in an ancient tongue.
If you’ve never read any of her work, if only for comparison, the name that often comes up in write-ups about Nnedi’s novels is Octavia Butler, if only because they both write in similar genres (speculative fiction – fantasy, sci-fi, etc), they’re both black and female, and both weave African-ness into their fantastical tales. Nnedi does list Butler as an influence.