HBO goes African with the end of Game of Thrones in sight

Author Nnedi Okorafor revealed the project is in development at the premium cable network.

With the end of Game of Thrones in sight, HBO and George R.R. Martin are looking for their next act outside of the fantasy drama.

Author Nnedi Okorafor announced Monday that the premium cable network has optioned her 2010 science fiction and fantasy novel Who Fears Death with the Game of Thrones creator on board to executive produce and adapt the series for the small screen. HBO declined comment, and sources note the deal is not officially completed.

Published by Penguin Books imprint DAW, Who Fears Death takes place in a fictionalized post-apocalyptic future version of Sudan. It revolves around Onyesonwu (Igbo for “who fears death”) who is an Ewu, the child of an Okeke woman who was raped by a Nuru man. When she reaches maturity, she uses her magical powers in a bid to defeat her sorcerer father Daib.

The novel won the 2011 World Fantasy Award for best novel as well as the Carl Brandon Kindred Award in 2010 for outstanding work of speculative fiction dealing with race and ethnicity.”

 

The novel won the 2011 World Fantasy Award for best novel as well as the Carl Brandon Kindred Award in 2010 for outstanding work of speculative fiction dealing with race and ethnicity.”

“My World Fantasy Award-winning novel Who Fears Death has been optioned by HBO and is now in early development as a TV series with George R. R. Martin as executive producer. Note: This did not happen overnight. It’s been nearly four years coming,” Okorafor wrote on Facebook.

For his part, Martin is currently working on four (possibly five) potential Game of Thrones prequel series for HBO, where he is under an overall deal.

Who fears death:

In a post-apocalyptic Africa, the world has changed in many ways, yet in one region genocide between tribes still bloodies the land. After years of enslaving the Okeke people, the Nuru tribe has decided to follow the Great Book and exterminate the Okeke tribe for good. An Okeke woman who has survived the annihilation of her village and a terrible rape by an enemy general wanders into the desert hoping to die. Instead, she gives birth to an angry baby girl with hair and skin the color of sand. Gripped by the certainty that her daughter is different—special—she names her child Onyesonwu, which means “Who Fears Death?” in an ancient tongue.

From a young age, stubborn, willful Onyesonwu is trouble. It doesn’t take long for her to understand that she is physically and socially marked by the circumstances of her violent conception. She is Ewu—a child of rape who is expected to live a life of violence, a half-breed rejected by both tribes.

But Onye is not the average Ewu. As a child, Onye’s singing attracts owls. By the age of eleven, she can change into a vulture. But these amazing abilities are merely the first glimmers of a remarkable unique magic. As Onye grows, so do her abilities—soon she can manipulate matter and flesh, or travel beyond into the spiritual world. During an inadvertent visit to this other realm she learns something terrifying: someone powerful is trying to kill her.

Desperate to elude her would-be murderer, and to understand her own nature, she seeks help from the magic practitioners of her village. But, even among her mother’s people, she meets with frustrating prejudice because she is Ewu and female. Yet Onyesonwu persists.

Eventually her magical destiny and her rebellious nature will force her to leave home on a quest that will be perilous in ways that Onyesonwu can not possibly imagine. For this journey will cause her to grapple with nature, tradition, history, true love, the spiritual mysteries of her culture, and ultimately to learn why she was given the name she bears: Who Fears Death?

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