Monday, April 26, 2010

The Martian Agent, a 1996 screenplay written by Michael Chabon

Thanks to a recent post on the Barsoomian blog JCOMReader about three discarded screenplays (1990, 1991, 2005) from failed attempts to film an A Princess of Mars movie based upon the novels of pulp author Edgar Rice Burroughs, I stumbled across the dormant script to The Martian Agent (Revised Draft, December 18, 1996; 130 p., 5.8 MB), written by Hugo Award-winning science fiction author Michael Chabon. Here are the opening lines:



Amid a million million diamonds, one dark ruby.


Starlight, swamp fire in the branches of the trees. CRICKETS and FROGS. The highway bends like a river. Galloping HOOVES in the distance, a maddened horse.


A pair of exhausted black horses careen past, dragging a rocking black coach. A trunk strapped to the top shakes loose, falls off. Bursts open. The horses’ thunder fades.

In the trunk, a framed chromo: a cavalryman with long yellow hair. The caption reads, in florid type, “GENERAL CUSTER” ....

If I recall, Chabon, who recently signed on as a screenwriter for the long-awaited Disney/Pixar film John Carter of Mars (2012), based the script on his short story “The Martian Agent: a Planetary Romance,” which was originally published in McSweeney's Mammoth Treasury of Thrilling Tales (Issue #10, 1993).


Phil N. said...

I dearly wish that Chabon had continued this story. I finally got around to tracking down the McSweeny's collection and read The Martian Agent. It was well-written, of course, had strong characters and an intriguing set-up. I can only hope that he gets back to this at some point and finishes what would seem to be a very strong proto-steampunk novel. Chabon has said that he likes genre and thinks there is no reason that "genre" and "literary" can't co-exist.

Paul said...

I read the portion that is posted online but it didn't catch my fancy. Nevertheless, I would love to see a full-length novel come to fruition. I'm curious to see how the John Carter of Mars film affects his career.