Amazon are adapting Iain M Banks’ Culture novels into a new series

The Culture, the fictional interstellar utopian society imagined in the sci-fi novels of Iain M. Banks, is being adapted by Amazon Studios’ television wing

Article by Jamie Dunn | 22 Feb 2018
  • Iain Banks by Ray Charles Redman

Culture fans – and fans of Iain M. Banks' “the Culture” – rejoice. Banks’ cult space opera is being adapted into a small screen series by Amazon Studios.

Amazon have acquired the rights to Consider Phlebas, the first in Banks’ series of sci-fi novels set within The Culture, and brought on Dennis Kelly to adapt. This should be music to the ears of sci-fi fans everywhere, as Kelly was behind the visually striking and highly imaginative cult sci-fi series Utopia, which ran for two series on Channel 4.

For the uninitiated, the Culture is Banks’ fictional intergalactic civilisation and Consider Phlebas (first published in 1987) introduces us to this gigantic world. Banks is probably best known for his modern Scottish classics The Wasp Factory and The Crow Road, but his ten novels set in the Culture universe and written under the moniker Iain M Banks are much-loved by sci-fi fans.

Consider Phlebas takes place in a time of war and delivers a kinetic, action-packed adventure on a huge canvas. “The story of the Culture is so rich and captivating that for years Hollywood has been trying to bring this utopian society to life on the screen,” said Sharon Tal Yguado, Head of Scripted Series at Amazon Studios. “We are honored that we have been chosen to make Consider Phlebas into a television series we think will be loved by fans for years to come.”

Kelly has said the Banks has long been a hero of his, and particularly loves his sagas set in the Culture. Of the novels, he says that “far from being the dystopian nightmares that we are used to, Banks creates a kind of flawed paradise, a society truly worth fighting for—rather than a warning from the future, his books are a beckoning.”

Plan B Entertainment, who were behind the likes of World War Z, 12 Years a Slave, The Big Short and Moonlight are lined-up to produce, with the Estate of Iain Banks attached as Executive Producer. “We revere the work of Iain Banks and continue to be moved by his inimitable spirit and his commitment to imagining a better future even in the darkest of times,” said Plan B. “We are so grateful to the Estate of Iain Banks for the opportunity to bring his work to life, and to Amazon for the scope of their ambition to building Iain’s prescient world.”

The series will be available as part of the Amazon’s Prime Video service, but a release date has still to be announced