Dan Simmons’ bestselling novel 2007 novel The Terror relayed the true account of a doomed attempt from Captain Sir John Franklin to pass two ships — the HMS Erebus and the HMS Terror — along a treacherous arctic sea route from 1845 to 1848. The crew really did succumb to scurvy and hunger, resorting to mutiny and then cannibalism just to stay alive. It’s a gripping story, but for a little added flavor, Simmons also threw in a monster from Inuit lore called the Tuunbaq that stalks the miserable bastards as they struggle not to turn into human freezepops. The nearly 750-page captivated readers with its macabre elements and grueling trials of the human spirit to survive against all odds, and now AMC will reap the benefit with an order for a televised adaptation of The Terror.
So while it makes perfect sense for AMC to greenlight a series based on the novel, one aspect of this development doesn’t. The Variety item that reported the story includes a puzzling quote from Joel Stillerman, an AMC executive: “We’ve been focused on developing this incredible story for television with these great partners for a couple of years, and we think it provides rich dramatic material but also an opportunity to explore the anthology format, which is something we’re extremely interested in and offers some unique possibilities.”
Though The Terror works along a non-linear timeline and switches perspectives multiple times, it does still follow a single narrative, which makes the insistence upon structuring this as an anthology somewhat confusing. An anthology is necessarily a collection of independent and free-standing narratives, and while they may be connected through shared settings or characters, The Terror doesn’t adhere to this format. Horror anthologies are big right now — you can thank American Horror Story for that, or do the opposite of thank them, depending on where you stand with AHS — so perhaps they’ll just push co-creators David Kajganich (scribe behind A Bigger Splash and True Story) and Soo Hugh (The Killing) to impose supernatural horrors in other historical milieus. Doesn’t matter how little sense it makes, if AMC wants an anthology series, AMC gets an anthology series, dammit.