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N.K. Jemisin's Hugo-Winning The Fifth Season Is Being Adapted for TV

Detail from The Fifth Season cover. Image:
Detail from The Fifth Season cover. Image:

It’s a great time to be a fan of scifi-fantasy author N.K. Jemisin. Her latest book, The Stone Sky, just came out yesterday. The previous novel in her Broken Earth series, The Obelisk Gate, won a Hugo last week. And the first book in the series, The Fifth Season (which won the 2016 Hugo), is being adapted into a TV series.


Deadline reports that TNT is developing the series with producer and writer Leigh Dana Jackson (24: Legacy; Sleepy Hollow; Helix), who helped get the rights to The Stone Sky even before it got its Hugo nomination; its eventual win for Best Novel made Jemisin the first black writer to win in that category. (Now she’s the second, and... well, a three-peat next year seems entirely possible.)

According to Deadline, Jackson will write the script for the proposed drama series, which has a lot of material to draw from:

The Fifth Season is described as an epic drama set in a world where civilization-destroying earthquakes occur with deadly regularity. A small minority of inhabitants has the ability to quiet these earthquakes, but they can also cause them. The series follows three women, each of whom possesses these special, earth-controlling abilities: Damaya, a young girl training to serve the Empire; Syenite, an ambitious young woman ordered to breed with her bitter and frighteningly powerful mentor; and Essun, a mother searching for the husband who murdered her young son and kidnapped her daughter mere hours after a Season tore a fiery rift across the land.


Jemisin was understandably thrilled to spread the word on Twitter:

If the show’s a hit, quite obviously there are two more critically-acclaimed books that could continue the story for multiple seasons, spin-offs, movies, and everything in between. TNT’s current slate of genre shows includes The Librarians and The Last Ship, as well as a seemingly endless array of Supernatural reruns.

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Congratulations to her. She was barely scraping along for years; if you think SF/F writers do it for the money, look at her budget for her Patreon. I’m glad to see that she can actually start to make a decent living writing now.

On the other hand, I’m a few chapters into The Stone Sky and it already feels like it has a lot of the problems of Obelisk Gate, which unlike Fifth Season had utterly no business winning any awards.

So I hope the TV deal lets her slow down her output a bit (reading for the NYT column also takes work), concentrate on the quality of her writing, and good for her.