N.K. Jemisin’s The Broken Earth trilogy of books—The Fifth Season, The Obelisk Gate, and The Stone Sky—was a record-smashing phenomenon when it came out in 2015, 2016, and 2017. Among other accolades, Jemisin became the first person to win Best Novel at the Hugo Awards in 3 consecutive years, and for all three individual books of a trilogy. (It also made Jemisin the first Black person to ever win the award, which probably says a lot more about the Hugos themselves, but it’s still a reflection of the unquestionable power of her books.) Now, Jemisin’s skills at world-building and character are about to get an even wider platform on which to shine, as Deadline reports that Sony has just signed a 7-figure deal to have the author adapt The Broken Earth for film.
This isn’t the first time that Jemisin’s trilogy has been optioned for the screen; The Fifth Season was originally set to be developed, back in 2017, as a TV show on TNT. (At at least one point, Daveed Diggs, a well-known fan of Jemisin’s books, was set to co-produce the series.) Jemisin acknowledged the radio silence on the project on her Twitter this weekend, before linking to the Deadline article about the new deal, which apparently grew out of a pretty hefty bidding war for the rights to her work. She also emphasized the fact that she’ll be the one doing the adapting, translating the complex world of her books, filled with varied subcultures and castes, onto the theater screen.
The complexity of that world makes a quick summary difficult to assemble, but in short: The Broken Earth takes place on a continent that undergoes catastrophic and deadly shifts in climate (the titular “fifth seasons”) every couple of centuries. Meanwhile, the society of “The Stillness” is stratified into classes, including orogenes, who are hated and feared for their powerful, and often uncontrollable, supernatural abilities. The emphasis is on exploring the wide array of cultures that exist in this world; even in the first book, Jemisin jumps between eras, giving a wide look at the ways these extreme conditions shape the people she writes about.
The Broken Earth adaptation is being developed at Sony’s TriStar Pictures brand. It’s not clear yet how much of the trilogy Jemisin will cover per film (or how many films might end up being developed), but given the expansive nature of the work, we can only hope for a more leisurely pacing.