I’m in geek heaven right about now! Deadline reported earlier this evening that Hammer Films and Cross Creek Pictures have acquired the filming rights to ‘Boneshaker’.

The novel, from author Cherie Priest, is the first part in the ‘Clockwork Century’ series. ‘Clockwork Century’ is the name given to an alternate history set in the 1800’s and in which the US Civil War has gone on far longer than it ever did in our timeline. In this other history, there are great steam-powered contraptions and weapons, flying airships, and, in the city of Seattle, an outbreak of “rotters”.

The first novel, ‘Boneshaker’, is set in Seattle and the immediate area. Years ago, a drilling machine (the titular “Boneshaker”), ripped a hole in the Earth and released a toxic gas that turned anyone that it touched into shambling horrors that the residents call “rotters” but you might know better as… zombies! To contain the outbreak, the entire city of Seattle has been walled off from the rest of the world. Hoping to uncover the truth of his family’s involvement in the “Boneshaker” incident, young Zeke Wilkes enters the quarantined city alone. His mother, in an attempt to save her son, follows close behind. Together, the pair have an adventure that includes airship smugglers, an underground city, and lots of running from hordes of the undead.

‘Boneshaker’, first published by Tor Books in 2009, won the Locus Award for Best Science Fiction in 2010 and was nominated for a Hugo Award the same year. The title was followed up by ‘Dreadnought’ in 2010 and the third novel, ‘Ganymede’ this past September. Tor already has plans for at least two more ‘Clockwork Century’ novels. The first, titled ‘Inexplicables’ should hit in 2012. The fifth book, ‘Fiddlehead’, was just announced this past week.

Hammer has selected John Hilary Shepherd to pen the screenplay for the film version of ‘Boneshaker.’ Shepherd was nominated for a WGA Award in 2010 for his work on Showtime’s ‘Nurse Jackie.’ ‘Boneshaker’ is being overseen by Hammer Films’ Tobin Armbrust, best known as producer on the suspense horror film ‘Let Me In’.

Hammer’s team seems very excited about the prospect of bringing ‘Boneshaker’ to the big screen. Of the film, Armbrust says, “First and foremost this is a great story. Bringing a steampunk style novel to life on the big screen is going to be very cool, very unique.”

“It’s like Jules Verne meets ‘Resident Evil,’ and we’re thrilled to have such a fun, commercial potential franchise in Boneshaker,” says Brian Oliver, the President of Cross Creek Pictures. “John’s an exciting screenwriter and we see this being a real crowd pleaser.”

Hammer President and CEO, Simon Oakes, adds, “Boneshaker is a classic zombie movie with a modern twist which is quintessentially Hammer so it’s a perfect fit for us. Cherie Priest’s steampunk series are fantastic with a distinct, unique style and we’re really looking forward to bringing her ‘Rotters’ to the big screen.”

Me too, Mr. Oakes, me too. The ‘Clockwork Century’ novels are among my favorites of all time and when this film makes it to the big screen, I’ll be there opening night. Stay tuned for more updates as we get them. In the meantime, be sure to check out my interview with Cherie about the release of ‘Ganymede‘.