Last September, we learned that Nine Inch Nails frontman and composer Trent Reznor was going to turn his lyrics and music from his band’s album Year Zero into a TV series. The album has been described as a musical chronicle that criticizes contemporary policies of the United States government by presenting a dystopian vision of the year 2022. We haven’t heard anything about the series since last year, but now THR has learned Fight Club screenwriter Jim Uhls will write the project which is now a miniseries set up at HBO and BBC Worldwide.
When the project was first announced, Carnivàle writer Daniel Knauf was said to be writing the series, but apparently the job is now Uhls to take. If it has the same grit and tone as Fight Club, then this should be a great miniseries for HBO down the road. For more background and plot description of the events that took place within the album and an alternate reality game that crafted the story and world of Year Zero before the album’s release, hit the jump.
The story takes place in the United States in the year 2022, which has been termed “Year 0″, by the American government, being the year that America was reborn. The U.S. had suffered several major terrorist attacks, apparently by Islamic fundamentalists, including attacks on Los Angeles and Seattle. In response, the government granted itself emergency powers and seized absolute control on the country. The U.S. government is now a Christian fundamentalist theocracy, maintaining control of the populace through institutions like the Bureau of Morality and the First Evangelical Church of Plano. Americans must get licenses to marry, bear children, etc. Subversive activities can result in these licenses being revoked. Dissenters regularly disappear from their homes in the night, and are detained in federal detainment centers and sanitariums, if not executed.
The government corporation Cedocore distributes the drug Parepin through the water supply, making Americans who drink the water apathetic and carefree. There are several underground rebel groups, mainly operating online, most notably Art is Resistance and Solutions Backwards Initiative. The First Evangelical Church of Plano is a fundamentalist Protestant Christian church which is favored by the neo-conservative government.
Amidst all of this are increasing sightings of what is labelled “The Presence”, which manifests as a pair of massive ghostly hands and arms extending down from the sky into the ground. Despite early attributions of The Presence to drug-induced mass hysteria, it soon becomes clear that it is a physical phenomenon capable of being recorded on video and film. Theories vary on the real cause of the appearances, but the prevailing opinion appears to be that the hands represent God or some other equivalent supernatural force. On February 10, 2022, a government official named Doug reports that sightings of the phenomenon are rapidly being reported from all over the world. The sequence ends with a broken message announcing the appearance of The Presence over the United States Capitol Building. The message cuts off suddenly, implying the end of the world.
Working to prevent this are the Solutions Backwards Initiative, which is a group of students, professors, and computer experts who devise a successful means with which to send information back through time using quantum mechanics in order to prevent the dystopian future (and eventual apocalypse) they live in from ever occurring. The websites and music of the Year Zero alternate reality game are implied to be part of the information packets sent back through the wormholes.