Ship Breaker is a 2010 young adult novel by Paolo Bacigalupi set in a post-apocalyptic future. Human civilization is in decline for ecological reasons. The polar ice caps have melted and New Orleans has been buried underwater. On the Gulf Coast nearby, humanity has reverted to survival mode and a small economy has grown from the scavenging of washed up oil tankers for bits of copper and other valuables.
Nailer is a fifteen-year-old boy who works on the light crew. His mother died when he was a young boy and he now lives with his alcoholic and drug addicted father, Richard Lopez. After a storm, Nailer rescues Nita, the stranded daughter of a wealthy merchant, and helps her to get back home. Unfortunately, this infuriates several parties, including Nailer's father, the local power brokers, and Nita's father's enemies, including Nita's uncle Pyce.
PLOTNailer, a small-framed teenage boy, is scavenging through an old rusty ship for copper wire. As he crawls through the darkness looking for scavenge to make quota, he dreams of traveling through the bright blue waters of the flooded oceans on a speeding clipper ship. While gathering copper wires, Nailer falls through the duct and lands in a deep pool of oil. Sloth, another member of the light crew, finds Nailer in the oil pocket, but decides to leave him to die because she wants Nailer's job. Luckily, Nailer is able to escape the oil and washes up on the beach. On the way out, Nailer is impaled by a rusty piece of metal. He survives.
A storm arrives shortly after Nailer's father, Richard, passes out due to too much drugs. Sadna, Pima's mother, helps wake Richard up and saves him from the storm. After two nights, the storm finally subsides. Nailer and Pima decide to check the beach for scavenge. They find a massive clipper ship stranded on the beach. With a lot of hesitation, the two Light Crew teenagers save the only survivor of the ship, Nita, whom is nicknamed "Lucky Girl" by Nailer, since she survived the shipwreck. After Nailer saves Nita, Richard wants to kill the girl and steal the scavenge. Pima lunges at Richard with a knife, but is overpowered. Richard decides to show mercy because Pima's mother, Sadna, had saved him from the storm. Knowing that there might be a reward for returning Nita to her father or uncle, Richard decides to spare her. Soon after, Nailer becomes sick and sleeps for 3 days.
"Lucky Girl" eventually tells Pima and Nailer the truth: she ran away to safety because her uncle, who wishes to sell illegal "tar sand", aims to use her as leverage against her father. Nailer decides to leave with Nita, and a half-man named Tool (originally in Richard's Heavy Crew) to New Orleans. After jumping trains, they arrive in New Orleans.
They wait for a ship called the Dauntless, a ship loyal to Nita's father, to arrive. Eventually the Dauntless arrives, but so does Richard. He is dressed as a swank (a rich man). Feeling suspicious, Nailer scouts the ship. After returning to his and Nita's hideout, he discovers that Richard and Nita's uncle, Pyce, have kidnapped her. Nailer joins Captain Candless and the rest of the Dauntless crew on a high-speed chase after the Pole-Star, the ship Nita is presumedly on. While on the ship, Nailer learns how to read and works on the gear systems in the depths of the ship.
During some high speed maneuvering, the Dauntless outsmarts the other ships, the Ray and the Pole Star, after sailing back to the gulf where the story started. The crew members of the Dauntless board the ship, and Nailer searches for Nita. He encounters his father and a fight ensues. Using his newfound ability to read and his experience with the gear systems, Nailer wins and saves Nita. The book ends with Nailer meeting Nita again on the same beach they met.
Paolo Bacigalupi at the 2012 Texas Book Festival
| August 6, 1972
Paonia, Colorado, USA
Haggis did not actually mention making 3 separate movies - so it might be one YA cli-fi movie based on the three part series and titled SHIP BREAKER. More news will come out later from Paolo's camp.
The book, the first of three in a series by American author Paolo Bacigalupi, is set in a future after the polar ice caps have melted and major cities have disappeared beneath rising sea waters.
Haggis, who has won Oscars for both directing (Crash) and writing (Clint Eastwood's Million Dollar Baby), explained to The Hollywood Reporter he had been attracted by the project because it involved environmental and ecological topics.
"The books are set hundreds of years in the future, after civil wars, after the ice caps have retreated and the world is populated by people who know nothing of our times," he said.
"I liked the idea that you could take that idea [of a post-apocalyptic world ignorant of the 21st century] and explore hopes and fears through that."
Haggis, who was talking in Morocco at the Marrakech Film Festival, where he gave a master class, said that being able to obliquely explore themes that touched on global warming and environmental destruction was one reason the project caught his eye.
"Climate change is a concern of mine, and taking on a film that is not just a narrative about that is attractive," he said, adding that tackling weighty subjects directly does not always work.
"I made that mistake in [2007 crime thriller] In the Valley of Elah — although I think it is one of my best films — but at that time, no one wanted to see it. They did not want to talk about issues that were too powerful at the time."
Ship Breaker will be produced by Far East, set up by producer Philip Lee (The Revenant, Assassin's Creed, Cloud Atlas) and his partner, Hollywood financier Markus Barmettler. Co-founded with Lee's longtime producing partner Markus Barmettler, Facing East is currently producing Peter Segal’s sci-fi action title Inversion, scripted by Paul Haggis. The firm is also developing another project, Shipbreaker, based on the award-winning YA book by Paolo Bacigalupi, which will also be scripted by Haggis, who will direct the project. The company has also partly financed Terrence Malick's Radegund, which is slated for a 2018 release.
Paul Haggis’ ''Ship Breaker'' Sounds Like It’s Going To Be A Massive, Cli-Fi Thriller
Few film categories have become more densely populated in recent years than the Young Adult genre. Seriously, we can only watch the same, sanitized, dystopian world before all of these films start to blend together. It's a hard world to stand out in, but that's exactly what Paul Haggis intends to do. The legendary director recently opened up and provided some insight into his upcoming adaptation of Paolo Bacigalupi's Ship Breaker YA series, and it sounds like it's going to be one of the most intense YA adaptations ever.