Why didn’t I try to sell movie rights?

So I have been musing since Stephen King’s 2009 novel Under the Dome has been turned into a TV series (even better than movie rights these days). King has explained that the image of a town under a transparent dome serves a metaphor for our finite global environment.

The same analogy inspired Notes on the Underground, which I wrote in the late 1980s and published in 1990. Among other things, the book recounts many fictional tales of humanity descending below the surface of the earth to live henceforth underground. At the end of Notes I write that we are now preparing to act out such a story, and not just in metaphorical terms:

“The real surface of our planet is the upper edge of the atmosphere, beyond which lies the frigid and uninhabitable realm of outer space. We have always lived below the surface, beneath the atmospheric ocean, in a closed, sealed, finite environment, where everything is recycled and and everything is limited. Until now, we have not felt like underground dwellers because the natural system of the globe has seemed so large in comparison with any systems we might construct. That is changing. What is commonly called environmental consciousness could be described as subterranean consciousness–the awareness that we are in a very real sense not on the earth but inside it.”

Of course at the time I had no idea King had for many years been playing with stories of towns-under-domes, which finally emerged as the novel and now the TV show. It would not be the first example of parallel simultaneous invention. And it would not be the first time when artists show how they can be so much more effective than scholars, by communicating through story rather than analysis.

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