Planet of Exile: Movie Plans Set for Classic Ursula K. Le Guin Sci-Fi Story

Rights have been procured for a film adaptation of sci-fi pioneer Ursula K. Le Guin’s 1966 novella Planet of Exile.

One of science fiction’s most prolific and celebrated living authors Ursula K. Le Guin has created a uniquely nuanced body of work dating back to the late-1950’s. While Hollywood hasn’t exactly made full use of any her offerings, which often center on the detailed sociological woes of humanoid societies in desolate dystopic backdrops, it seems that an up-and-coming independent studio is looking to adapt one of her key stories, Planet of Exile, for a potentially ambitious film project.

Deadline reports that indie studio LAMF (Los Angeles Media Fund) has procured the movie rights to Planet of Exile, a 1966 far-future-set otherworldly novella by Le Guin. Screenwriter Daniel Stiepelman will adapt Le Guin’s story, depicting the continuing travails of an Earth colony on the planet Werel. Amongst the array of attached producers are Jeffrey Soros and Simon Horsman of LAMF and veteran producer Mark Johnson, a name connected to classic films such as Diner, Rain Man and The Notebook, as well as sci-fi spoof Galaxy Quest and a long list of TV credits like Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul, Rectify and Halt and Catch Fire. In a joint statement, Soros and Horsman cite the following praises of Le Guin:

“Ursula K. Le Guin is one of the world’s greatest science fiction and fantasy writers. She has won The National Book Award Medal for Distinguished Contributions to American letters, considered one of literature’s most distinguished honors, as well as multiple Nebula and Hugo prizes. She is also one of only a handful of living authors to be inducted into the Library of America, keeping company with Melville, Hawthorne and Twain. LAMF is thrilled and honored to bring Ursula’s work to the screen.”

Planet of Exile, the second part of Le Guin’s Hainish Cycle of novels and stories, separates itself from typical entries in the sci-fi dystopia genre, due to its focus on the normally glossed-over sociological dynamics involved in scenarios with humans stuck on an alien planet. The story’s human population has been stranded on Werel for 10 of the planet’s years; a chunk of time that’s exponentially expanded, since each year on Werel equates to 60 on Earth (600 years)! However, the primary struggle centers on the tribal cultures that developed on the alien world between its human colonists, its indigenous humanoids and a third, more primitive group.  

Planet of Exile just kicked off the earliest stage of a long process towards its translation to film. No significant dates have been projected yet.

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