Salman Rushdie’s Showtime project is a sci-fi drama called “The Next People”

Pin it

So, it turns out that that Showtime project Salman Rushdie was working on is a sci-fi drama series called The Next People. It will be based in empirical science, but also feature supernatural or extraterrestrial elements. And, according to Rushdie, it will have "an almost feature-film budget." The show is vaguely described as covering the hectic pace of change in modern life, encompassing politics, religion, science, technology, and sexuality. Rushdie said, "It's a sort of paranoid science-fiction series, people disappearing and being replaced by other people. It's not exactly sci-fi, in that there is not an awful lot of science behind it, but there are certainly elements which are not naturalistic."

It still sounds weird saying Rushdie is writing for a pay-cable channel; if you didn't know better, slumming and gambling debts might come to mind. But that's not the case. Rushdie is known for his magical-realist stories (as well as his cocktail-party ladykilling), and, in fact, his debut novel, 1975's Grimus, was based on a twelfth-century Sufi poem, and had definite sci-fi aspects to it. And when you consider he was a man without a country after the post-Satanic Verses fatwa (a real cash cow, that fatwa), his stranger-in-a-strange-land existence would seem to lend a credibility and imprimatur to his sci-fi efforts.

Another reason for Rushdie's diving into small-screen scribbling is the autonomy and respect accorded the writer in that medium, as opposed to silver-screen gigs. As he put it:

"You have control in the way that you never have in the cinema. The Sopranos was David Chase, West Wing was Aaron Sorkin. Matthew Weiner on Mad Men writes the entire series before they start shooting, and if you have that, then what you can do with character and story is not at all unlike what you can do in a novel."