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SYFY WIRE Virtual Reality

WIRE Buzz: New AMC anthology looking for love; Microsoft swapping real life for VR; more

By Benjamin Bullard
Sarah Snook via Getty Images

A new science fiction anthology is in development at AMC, and it’s packing the creative talents of one of the dark minds behind Stranger Things and Black Mirror — alongside a cast that sports some familiar faces and Black Mirror veterans.

Deadline reports that AMC has recruited Succession star Sarah Snook and Billions star David Costabile, as well as Sonya Cassidy from AMC’s own Lodge 49, as early-episode cast members for its upcoming limited series, which reportedly will span six installments.

The still-untitled sci-fi anthology will feature different story scenarios and different cast members from one episode to the next, but each will highlight how one huge, society-shifting discovery shapes people’s ordinary lives, according to the report. Set 15 years in the future, a groundbreaking scientific development “changes the lives of everyone on the planet” so that everyone on Earth, for the first time, can find their one true soulmate.  

David Costabile in Billions

It’s a new take on an ideal-relationship theme we’ve seen before from Black Mirror, and perhaps the association is apt: Black Mirror and Stranger Things writer Will Bridges reportedly is co-writing the series with Superbob writer Brett Goldstein.

Snook will play a “suburban mother” named Nikki in the inaugural episode, realizing 15 years into her married life that her soul mate isn’t the same man she’s been with all this time. The second installment will feature Costabile as a “respected Ivy League professor” whose life is disrupted when he meets his new soulmate (played by Cassidy).

Details on how the rest of the series will play out are still light, but AMC already has revealed an extensive casting lineup including The OA’s Kingsley Ben-Adir, Killing Eve’s Darren Boyd, Black Mirror’s Georgina Campbell, Bandersnatch’s Sandra Teles, and more.

Production reportedly is already underway in Madrid, Spain, so stay tuned for more from AMC — including a name for the series, as well as a release date.

In a tech development that somehow manages to sound both awesome and depressing all at once, Microsoft is working on a new virtual reality project that aims to take the ho-hum environment you walk through every day — and swap it out with a fake version that spices things up. 

Microsoft’s DreamWalker project aims to “explore a future in which people spend considerably more time in virtual reality, even during moments when they walk between locations in the real world,” according to the tech giant. And it’s doing so by replacing the sights a user sees on a daily walk with “a pre-authored VR environment” via a headset.

Check out Microsoft’s demo video below:

Is this a sad commentary on our Matrix-like dystopia, or a cool innovation that promises to make even our mundane tasks more interesting? We don’t know, but we’re not tuning out. For now, the project is in the research stage and is only guiding people on reality-swapping tours as they walk across Microsoft’s campus. But if the technology makes it to consumer, it could spell the end of those boring shuffles down the sidewalk — and the beginning of fake VR adventures that turn your daily walking commute into an exploration of exotic new worlds.

Finally, TV is gearing up for another cool comic book adaptation — this time from the mind of Mind Mgmt and Folklords writer, Matt Kindt.

Deadline reports that Legendary Television has picked up Kindt’s Eisner Award-nominated Grass Kings graphic novel for a small-screen treatment, with writers Grant Wheeler & Ben Freiburger, who teamed up on the 2017 sci-fi YouTube series Lifeline starring Dwayne Johnson, attached to create the script.

Grass Kings

Released by BOOM! Studios, Grass Kings weaves fantasy and alternate-history elements into a gritty rural murder mystery set in Alaska. Following protagonist Robert Pike, the series tracks Pike’s creation of a “separatist society” in the Alaskan wilderness as a way to “insulate himself against the loss of his murdered daughter.” Living off the grid with a menagerie of strange characters and social outcasts, Pike’s would-be utopia finds enemies even in the remote north — and “only with the help of his family can Robert hold the demons within, and without, at bay.”

There’s no early information on where Grass Kings might land, nor on a release date (or even whether it’s a live action project). First published in 2017 with artist Tyler Jenkins, the print version of Grass Kings is currently available in one of three hardcover compilations from BOOM! Studios.