“Beacon 23” will mark the second time in just a handful of years that writer Zak Penn has adapted a futuristic sci-fi novel for the screen. Previously, he co-wrote the screenplay for “Ready Player One” alongside the book’s original author, Ernest Cline, which takes place in the year 2045. Although both the film and its source material received their share of criticism for a depiction of the gaming world that (by 2018) felt dated and ignorant in the wake of “Gamergate” (as detailed by Vox), the film’s long-awaited release was nonetheless welcomed and applauded by many. With “Beacon 23,” Penn will return to the future — this time to the twenty-third century — with his adaptation of Hugh Howey’s novel.
The complete, five-part novel — which Luna Station Quarterly’s KC Macquire intriguingly describes as “a cross between Andy Weir’s The Martian and David Bowie’s Space Oddity” — tracks the characters of Aster (Lena Headey) and “Halan” in their roles as beacon keepers who are trapped and isolated at the furthest reaches of the universe. The two aren’t exactly friends — Halan, who has been completely by himself for quite some time, is particularly suspicious of Aster’s motives. This leads to a dynamic, as Collider’s Kristen Santer further explains, wherein “a tense battle of wills unfolds at the edge of space.”
It’s too soon to say if Penn’s incarnation will remain true to the source material, but since the transformation of literature into a television series inevitably comes with its own built-in set of logistical, “fanboy,” and narrative obstacles — see, for example, how “The Witcher” showrunner Lauren S. Hissrich played with the timeline — it’s safe to say that an exact replica of Howey’s work is highly unlikely. Then again, anything is possible in the future, so who knows?