Ursula Le Guin

Ursula Le Guin’s The Telling being adapted into a movie: 'A personal story of self-exploration,' producer says

Contributed by
Feb 28, 2018

Ursula K. Le Guin may be gone, but — like a good sci-fi tale — her celebrated legacy will remain immortal: The recently departed author's 2000 novel, The Telling, is being adapted for the big screen. Bayview Films has announced it will be producing a film version of the beloved literary icon’s work, with Rekha Sharma (Battlestar Galactica, Star Trek: Discovery) set to star and Leena Pendharkar (20 Weeks, Raspberry Magic) slated to direct and write the screenplay. 

“We have been working on the project with Ursula for a few years now, and were set to announce it the week she passed away,” Bayview Film founder and producer Rizwan Virk (Knights of Badassdom) tells SYFY WIRE. “We decided to hold the announcement for a few weeks as we were all devastated by her recent passing.” Le Guin died on Jan. 22 at her home in Portland, Oregon, at the age of 88.

Virk added: “She's been my favorite writer since I was a kid and it was a real privilege to get to know her and to bring this unique project from her Hainish series to the screen.”

The producers have even set up a Facebook page with conceptual artwork.

In The Telling, Sutty Dass (Sharma) travels from war-torn Earth to the planet Aka, which has suppressed its culture in the march toward technological advancement. As she moves deeper into the countryside and the desolate mountains, Sutty discovers the remnants of a banned religion known as the Telling. 

The Telling brings together a very personal story of self-exploration while exploring much broader themes related to science, alien civilizations, religious freedom, and technological progress,” Virk says. “Le Guin’s vision of the Ekumen shows a very different model for interstellar co-operation than most popular science fiction today, and I wanted the world to see what that was like on screen.”

Pendharkar said in a statement from Bayview Films that she is “honored to bring the work of one of science fiction's most esteemed writers to the screen especially in these times when strong female voices are needed.” 

Le Guin's first science fiction novel, Rocannon's World, was published in 1966. At the time of her death, she had published more than 20 novels (including The Left Hand of Darkness), 12 books of poetry, 100 short stories, seven essay collections, 13 children's books, and a guide for writers.

Her Hugo Award- and Nebula Award-winning novel, The Left Hand of Darkness, is considered by many as one of the first examples of feminist science fiction literature. 

Although she was very prolific and enjoyed a huge fanbase, Le Guin did not see many of her works translated to the big or small screen. The Lathe of Heaven was adapted twice (once in 1979 and again in 2002), as was Earthsea (in 2004 and again in 2006). And that’s really been about it. So, could this be the start of a reversal of that trend? 

Production on The Telling is set to start later this year, with a theatrical release planned for 2019.