‘Queen’s Gambit’ Writer to Adapt Sci-Fi Novel ‘The Sparrow’ for FX

“Queen’s Gambit” co-creator, director and showrunner Scott Frank is writing every episode of FX’s adaptation of the visionary modern classic, “The Sparrow.” Emmy Award-winning director Johan Renck (“Chernobyl,” “Breaking Bad”) has been tapped to direct the sci-fi project.

Frank and Renck, along with “Better Call Saul” producer Mark Johnson, will executive produce the limited series based on Mary Doria Russell’s acclaimed magnum opus. “The Sparrow” is being produced by FX Productions.

“The Sparrow,” published in 1996 by Random House’s imprint Villard, won numerous prestigious literary awards, including the Arthur C. Clarke Award, the Kurd-Laßwitz-Preis and the British Science Fiction Association Award, among others. The book, categorized as a work of speculative fiction, grapples with the potential ethical, philosophical and spiritual issues of humans intermingling with extraterrestrial life, raising questions about humanity itself.

The series mostly follows the novel’s events faithfully, following a crew of Jesuit priests and scientists, led by a Puerto Rican linguist of mixed Taíno heritage, Father Emilio Sandoz, who make first contact with an alien civilization on a Vatican-backed mission to a distant planet called Rakhat. Things go awry in the Jesuits’ quest to prove the existence of God throughout the universe, and the misadventure ends in disaster and scandal. Father Sandoz, the sole survivor, returns to Earth physically and psychologically broken only to be subjected to an inquiry.

This isn’t the first time “The Sparrow” has been adapted, though this is its first successful shot in the book-to-show pipeline. Back in 2006, Warner Bros. Pictures acquired the rights for the novel for Brad Pitt’s Plan B and Industry Entertainment to produce, with Michael Seitzman (“Code Black,” “North Country”) writing the movie’s script. The project eventually fell apart when Russell revoked all film rights.

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