21 Laps and FilmNation Entertainment, the team behind the movie adaptation of Ted Chiang’s Arrival, have acquired screen rights to Ken Liu’s 2012 short story “The Message”, about an alien archaeologist who studies extinct civilizations and reunites with a daughter he never knew he had.
You’d think this story would be easy to write for me. It contains some math, some alien archaeology, some chemistry, and even “single-bit errors” — all stuff that I love. But for many years, this story went nowhere. I think all the bits I mention above, the speculative elements, were sound, but I couldn’t find the human element. Characters shuffled into story drafts and then shuffled out of them, leaving no trace. They did not feel connected to the set.
I gave up on it for a while.
Then I became a father, and I realized that sometimes, to a parent, communicating with your child is just as challenging as trying to communicate across thousands of years, across millions of miles.
“The Message” first appeared in Interzone magazine issue #242 and an audio narration can be listened to on StarShipSofa.
Liu, a Hugo and Nebula-award winning author, has enjoyed recent popularity in the Hollywood spotlight with an animated adaptation of his short story “Good Hunting” in the Netflix series Love, Death & Robots. There is currently no director and screenwriter attached, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
For more on Ken Liu’s short stories and short fiction curation, check out Broken Stars, a collection of contemporary Chinese speculative fiction in translation. Ken, on some of his favorite lines.