The Annihilation director will stay solidly in the science fiction realm in his new television project with FX.
Alex Garland‘s new film, Annihilation, hits theaters this weekend. From everything that we’ve heard, it’s every bit the visual delight that was his 2015 directorial debut, Ex Machina. Garland recently shared some details on a new project he’s working on at FX, a science fiction show about software developers working on the cutting edge of technology. It’ll be interesting to see if he can carry his visual style into a smaller medium.
In an interview with Collider, Garland shared that the show will be called Devs. That’s short for software developers, in case you made the mistake I did and pursued a liberal arts degree. The show is set in San Francisco, the bastion of tech culture, and about its plot he says, “It’s about a particular aspect of technology at the moment which is to do with very, very big data and very powerful processing power, and what can happen when you put those two things together.”
Garland has prepped an eight-episode arc that makes for a contained story. However: “If they want to carry it on,” he says, “There are ways you could.”
Where will he take Devs? In categorizing his new project, Garland likens it to the work he did with Ex Machina. The idea is to take something set very much in our world, or just on the cusp of possibility, and explore the human condition through inferences about where these things might lead. In Ex Machina, it was to the death of man and the rise of woman. For contrast, he called Annihilation a fantastical, hallucinogenic sort of science fiction. Which basically makes that movie sound pretty fucking radical in itself.
This seems to be very firmly in Garland’s wheelhouse. After all, Ex Machina involves an isolated tech company billionaire struggling to create an artificial intelligence. It features Oscar Isaac as Nathan, a software-bro, billionaire-recluse, isolated in his own island and drowning in mad science and beer. His holy quest? Artificial Intelligence. Alicia Vikander’s performance as Ava, the AI, is blisteringly good. The fact that Garland used this setup to tell a story about toxic masculinity and its impact on women is science fiction at peak performance.
It sounds like FX is interested in exploring further the mantle thrown down by hot-topic shows like Black Mirror. Those are largely steeped in the same flavor of science fiction. They’re an exploration of the nearly-now and the ways it can all catastrophically go tits up. Most of the time, with very little effort.
The fun with speculative fiction based in the almost-present is that it often is overcome by current events. My go-to example is pretty much anything written by William Gibson. His early work anticipated the rise of GoogleGlass, cyberspace, and digital maps. Weirdly, sometimes even their absurd premises and speculations manage to come true in the real world. Remember Pig-gate. I suppose you could hashtag that as a sort of memento mori. Only, instead of remembering death is inevitable, it will remind you that speculative fiction, in the not so long arc of the near-present, bends towards reality.
Garland and FX intend to start shooting in six months time. They’re currently exploring the more practical elements of television-making: casting and locations. In the meantime, be nice to your computers and data-processors. They may be our overlords tomorrow.