"You could be the author of a new novel set in the world of Jim Henson’s The Dark Crystal!"
So says the banner of Penguin Books' new project: The Dark Crystal Author Quest.
Which is what, exactly? Well, almost exactly what it says in the header: a quest for an author to write a novel set in Jim Henson's fan-favourite universe.
Note that the publishers are looking for a prequel to the movie as opposed to a sequel, as some sites have erroneously reported.
In any event, roll the press release:
"The world of The Dark Crystal is a world unlike any we have ever known. Under the triple suns, the skies roil with cloud formations not seen in our skies. Seedpods spiral up and rocks scuttle off. It is a world where the wise and noble urSkeks have been split into two imperfect races, Skeksis and urRu; and the Gelfling Clans, the species most like our own, go about their lives not knowing what their future holds. This is a world waiting to be explored and expanded upon with new stories, new quests.
"At The Jim Henson Company, we continue to be enthralled with the possibilities of this world and invite you to join us in our obsession. We have set up a portal to share what we know, a new website with all of the information about this place and these creatures: DarkCrystal.com. We invite you to use the resources, character descriptions, locations, and history on this site to join us in imagining the next Dark Crystal story."
And here are the gory details
"From October 1st, 2013 to December 31st, 2013, The Jim Henson Company and Grosset & Dunlap of the Penguin Young Readers Group will be accepting writing submissions to find the author for a new novel set in the world of Jim Henson’s The Dark Crystal. This author search is open to all professional and aspiring professional writers.
"This new Dark Crystal novel will be a prequel story set at the time of the Gelfling Gathering, between the Second Great Conjunction and the creation of the Wall of Destiny. We will be placing all known lore from this era on DarkCrystal.com, the definitive home of The Dark Crystal. There you will find all the knowledge available for you to shape and build your story—and all we ask is that you share your stories with us."
Me, I wonder why they haven't simply solicited an actual author to compose a proper prequel. Surely The Dark Crystal canon is deserving of established talent rather than being farmed out to fandom.
Then again, I can be awfully old fashioned...
That said, I can't imagine many established talents would put up with the shady small print:
Each entry will be the sole property of the Sponsors. By competing in the Contest and/or accepting a prize, each entrant (including the prize winner) grants to Sponsors the right to edit, adapt, publish, copy, display, reproduce and otherwise use their entry in connection with this Contest and in any other way, in any and all forms of media now known or hereafter devised, throughout the world, in perpetuity, including publication on www.darkcrystal.com. Further, each entrant (including the prize winner) grants to Sponsors the right to use each entry and the winner’s name, likeness, and biographical information in advertising, trade and promotional materials, without notice, review or approval, or further compensation or permission, except as set forth herein, and except where prohibited by law. Sponsors are not obligated to use, publish, display or reproduce any entry.
All for $10k — with no prospect of royalties — which is not, in all honesty, a whole lot. Don't sign your souls away so easily, readers!
Overall, though, this is exciting news, no? Not because of the Author Quest itself — at least, not from my personal perspective — but because it suggests renewed interest in one of my all-time favourite fantasy films.
Could this move be indicative of The Jim Henson Company's intentions to make a new movie?
Could this be a potential test of our appetite for The Dark Crystal 2? Yes!
Oh, let it be true...