Game to Book: ‘Terraforming Mars’ Spins Off a Novel

In Feature Articles by Porter Anderson

The Fryxelius brothers’ ‘Terraforming Mars’ gets its first book tie-in from Asmodee and its imprint Aconyte Books, in English and Danish.

The basis for the new novel ‘In the Shadow of Deimos’ is the 2016 game ‘Terraforming Mars.’ Image: FryxGames

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

Fryxelius: ‘A Believable Future’
If you start with the premise that a lot of families have spent a lot of time playing a lot of board games—and reading—during coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic confinements, then you may predict a potentially strong run ahead for a book called In the Shadow of Deimos from Nottingham-based publisher Aconyte Books. Today (August 10), it’s been announced that a Danish edition of the book is in the works, as well.

While many professionals in world publishing put a lot of energy into the book-to-film/words-to-screen route to development, Aconyte is a publisher specialized in gaming-to-book. The new novel, by Jane Killick, is out in its ebook edition now. It releases in paperback on September 21 in the United States and Canada. And on October 28, it’s out in its Danish translation.

In the Shadow of Deimos, set in the year 2316, is the first book to be based on a 2016 board game called Terraforming Mars, promoted by its Swedish publisher, FryxGames, as “a world changing game” by Jacob Fryxelius.

In the game, surely a favorite of Elon Musk, corporations jockey for the job of making Mars habitable for humans “using innovative technology to raise temperature, create a breathable atmosphere, and make oceans of water.” Humans migrate from Earth to Mars as the red planet becomes more able to sustain them.

Expansions to the game have been made five times, the latest in 2019, and for those interested, a series of videos here will help orient you to the game, which can be played by one to five people. It’s recommended as being for ages 12 and older. Rounds are counted in generations, and terraforming is completed when the three global parameters are secured: temperature above freezing, adequate oxygen, and oceans able to support Earth-like weather.

Aconyte Books, which is publishing the Killick novel, is a fiction imprint created by the game’s distributor, Asmodee—obviously a company that foresaw the game-to-books outlook clearly. On Aconyte’s “worlds” page, you can see the various tie-in titles published in support of each property, along with originals licensed by Marvel and Ubisoft.

Killick, the author of In the Shadow of Deimos, is a tie-in veteran, having created a raft of books for the Babylon 5 series for Penguin Random House and its Del Ray imprint.

Skovgaard: ‘A Cultural Phenomenon’

A detail from the digital edition of ‘Terraforming Mars,’ found on Steam, iOS, and Android. Image: FryxGames

Publishing Perspectives has asked for the name of the translator for the Danish edition coming. The 2018 Danish edition of Terraforming Mars was produced by a Copenhagen-based company called Character Localization and Publishing and that company is working with Asmodee on the Danish edition of Killick’s book.

Morten Skovgaard

In a prepared statement, Character Localization and Publishing’s Morten Skovgaard, is quoted, saying, “The Terraforming Mars board game is incredibly popular, with a great base game and excellent expansions added after its original release.

“The Swedish Fryx brothers managed to create something special with this game: It quickly turned into a cultural phenomenon rather than ‘just’ a game, as it’s both highly topical in terms of climate concerns, scientific progress, technological advancement, and the exploration of space, and very accessible to inexperienced board game players despite its depth and variety.

“The game has drawn in a vast number of new players, and it’s only natural that the Terraforming Mars universe is now being expanded into the book format, as there are many stories left to be told in it. In the Shadow of Deimos feels like a natural new expansion of the game in book format, and we’re very excited to bring this new Terraforming Mars experience to all the people who enjoy the Danish version of the board game.”

Alexander Thieme

In the Shadow of Deimos as yet has no Swedish edition, although Terraforming Mars originated in Sweden, but Aconyte’s staff says many translated editions are anticipated.

Alexander Thieme, licensing manager for Asmodee Entertainment, says that Copenhagen’s Character Localization’s people “are experts in their field and with the popularity of the Danish-language edition of Terraforming Mars in Denmark, I’m confident that many fans of the game will be equally delighted to read the novel in their mother tongue.”

And speaking for the board game’s creators, Jacob Fryxelius of FryxGames says, “We’re very happy with adding books to the Terraforming Mars brand, especially when they bring the stories behind the game to life, as In the Shadow of Deimos does: a riveting story, inspiring settings, and a believable future.”

Jacob Fryxelius

The Fryxelius family’s next game to be released is to be called Angel Fury. That one is said to involve a “grand battle in the spiritual realm” between 100 angels and 100 demons.

“Each player controls a mighty leader for his angelic division, either an archangel or a demon prince. In addition to that, each player also commands two large units–seraphs or “tormentors”–and a horde of angels or demons.”

Considering the multitude of angels and demons in this one, maybe Dan Brown will be interested in contributing a tie-in novel.

A detail from ‘Terraforming Mars.’ Image: FryxGames

More from Publishing Perspectives on licensing news is here, more on the cross-media development of intellectual property is here, and more from us on translation is here.

More from us on the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on international book publishing is here.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (Fellow, National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.