EXCLUSIVE: Downton Abbey producer Carnival Films is developing a TV adaptation of genre novel I Still Dream after swooping in ahead of its recent publication. UK writer James Smythe, who penned the book, is set to adapt and also lead a writer’s room for the project, which Carnival wants to unfold across multiple seasons, I understand.

Gareth Neame’s NBCUniversal International Studios-owned outfit is in early development on the project but will be looking for partners on it shortly. Rogers Coleridge & White repped the screen rights to the zeitgeisty book, which follows the story of a woman’s life-long relationship with artificial intelligence.

The novel is published by Harper Collins imprint Borough Press in the UK and the Cambridge Analytica scandal and fears about the power of social media provide a fitting backdrop for its female-fronted cautionary, dystopian tale. Here’s Harper Collins’ longer synopsis:

’17-year-old Laura Bow has invented a rudimentary artificial intelligence, and named it Organon. At first it’s intended to be a sounding-board for her teenage frustrations, a surrogate best friend; but as she grows older, Organon grows with her.

As the world becomes a very different place, technology changes the way we live, love and die; massive corporations develop rival intelligences to Laura’s, ones without safety barriers or morals; and Laura is forced to decide whether to share her creation with the world. If it falls into the wrong hands, she knows, its power could be abused. But what if Organon is the only thing that can stop humanity from hurting itself irreparably?’

Harper Collins, which has world rights and first released on March 19, calls it a “dark, moving, and ultimately hopeful examination of what it means to be human.”

Smythe, whose YA sci-fi novel Way Down Dark was previously picked up by Studio 8, is the author of novels The Testimony (2012) (winner of Wales Book of the Year), The Explorer (2012), The Echo (2014), The Machine (2013) (shortlisted for the Arthur C Clarke Award) and No Harm Can Come To A Good Man (2014). The Explorer was previously optioned by Filmwave. The Times has described the writer’s work as “pacey and addictive; he has a fiendish talent for springing surprises.” He is repped by The Agency, in conjunction with RC&W, and Grandview.

Carnival’s recent TV productions include The Last Kingdom and Jamestown. A movie based on smash TV series Downton Abbey is in development.