Love it or hate it, the book adaptation to film/TV show pipeline is here to stay. I, for one, am not against it, on principle. There have been some really great adaptations, films that stand on their own as great works that happen to have great source material in literary form. But the history of the failed adaptation is such that it always makes me wary, especially when some of my most beloved properties are getting adapted. My number one hope is that the author (or their estate) has enough control of the material to not let the egregiously bad ones get made. What follows is a list of some of the upcoming films and TV shows that are about to be adapted from some of my favorite books, who’s making them, and why you should read them first.
The Foundation Series, consisting of seven novels, takes place approximately 22,000 years from now and spans over 500 years from start to finish. Hari Seldon, a mathematician who has developed a method to predict the future called Psychohistory, has predicted that The Galactic Empire which rules over most of the worlds in this civilization will collapse. But he has also developed a way to save mankind from a potential 30,000 year dark ages by creating The Foundation. Many common sci-fi tropes were first seen in The Foundation series, among them Faster-Than-Light travel (aka: Warp Speed). This seminal science fiction series, considered unfilmable by many, has previously been acquired by both New Line Cinema and Sony Pictures with nothing to show for it. HBO acquired the rights in 2014 and rumor has it Jonathan Nolan (writer of Interstellar and brother of Chris Nolan) has been working on it for months already. Neither Nolan nor HBO has confirmed this as of yet. For me, the marriage of HBO and Jonathan Nolan is a fortuitous one. I expect good things.
Why you should read it first: Well, because it’s classic sci-fi. And if you like anything sci-fi, at all, it was very likely influenced by Asimov in some way. The world he created is rich and imaginative, as well as epic, and it’s unlikely any film/TV adaptation, no matter how good, will be able to capture it all.
The Sandman is a graphic series that tells the story of Dream of the Endless, who rules over dreams. Most of the stories take place in his realm, called The Dreaming. It’s a dark fantasy graphic novel series released by DC/Vertigo from 1989-1996, and one of the first few graphic novels to ever make the New York Times Bestseller list. Throughout the 90s, Warner Bros. Studios attempted to get The Sandman adapted to screen but failed in each attempt, with Gaiman at one point saying the script they sent him was the worst script he had ever read. Currently, screenwriter David S. Goyer (Batman Begins, Dark City) and Joseph Gordon-Levitt are working on adapting it with Warner Bros. Films and it’s going to be distributed by Vertigo. Now, I have some serious faith in David S. Goyer just based on his history. And I love JGL, I really do. But I’m not sure if he’s the one to play Dream. For my money, Tom Hiddleston embodies Dream. And I would much rather see this as an HBO or Showtime series than just a single movie, but I’ll take it as long as it’s good. I suspect there will be significant changes, or possibly an entirely original storyline if this goes to film, which would actually be better, in my opinion. Adding to the cannon instead of straight adapting it would be a a beautiful thing to experience.
Why you should read it first: Only because it is one of the most beautifully haunting, darkly enchanting, modern tales of ancient & mystical creatures and that exists on our humble bookshelves. A highly original look at the world of dreams as told by one of the world’s best dreamers. It’s a series that changed everything about how I thought stories could be told, and nothing else like it exists. Anywhere.
In the year 2044, Wade Watts, like most other humans, spends most of his time plugged into OASIS, a virtual reality utopia. The real world just sucks too much. When the billionaire creator of OASIS dies, a contest automatically begins within the OASIS, the winner of which will inherit the old man’s company and fortune. After Wade solves the first puzzle, though, everything in his life changes. Warner Bros. has owned the rights to this since 2010 and currently has Zak Penn working on the script. And as of last week, Steven Spielberg is set to direct. This could be great for the film for a number of reasons, not the least of which is it will likely help in attaining the many licenses required for the story. Everything from Atari to War Games to Firefly to Oingo Boingo is referenced in this book. But Spielberg won’t be working on this until after he finishes Roald Dahl’s The BFG. So the waiting begins.
Why you should read it first: Fun. Fun. Fun. Fun, and more fun! Also, Ernest Cline is from Austin. He hangs out at our bookstore and owns an actual DeLorean, called Ecto88.
The series, so far, consists of The Name of the Wind, A Wise Man’s Fear, and The Slow Regard of Silent Things (novella). Young Kvothe witnesses the murder of his parents while traveling with them in a performance group. The mysterious murderer, The Chandrian, is thought by many to simply be a myth. But Kvothe knows the truth and dedicates his life to learning the magic he needs to know to seek his revenge. And the only place to learn magic is at The University. In 2013, this epic fantasy series was acquired by Twentieth Century Fox for television. What little is known at this time is that Eric Heisserer (writer of the 2011 remake of The Thing, which was underwhelming at best) is writing it, and Arnon Milchan and Robert Lawrence are producing. Milchan has a lot of great stuff on his roster, Lawrence not so much. Also, this is going to be on network television, with commercials. As of now, I don’t have high hopes, but it is in the early stages and many things can change.
Why you should read it first: Murder. Revenge. Magic (er, science, um, I mean magic). Dragons. Sword fights. Mystery. Intrigue. Seriously though, I couldn’t put these books down, and as of now I don’t think the adaptation will be able to hold a candle.
Two magicians in the late 19th century England, first teacher and student, and then rivals, emerge as major players in the historical events of the time. The novel has an epic scope, re-imagining our real history as one that contains magic and faeries. It’s both fantasy and alternative reality historical fiction. New Line Cinema had the rights for some time, and the writing eventually fell to Julian Fellowes (Downton Abby), but New Line collapsed and the film was never made. However, BBC One started production on the series in 2013 and the full seven episode run will show on BBC America, starring Bertie Carvel as Jonathan Strange and Eddie Marsan as Mr. Norrell. The series begins sometime in 2015, but no concrete dates are available at this time.
Why you should read it first: This is a really unusual book and it didn’t grab me instantly. It grew on me slowly, which at over 700 pages is not that surprising. The foundation for the story had to be solid or the whole thing would fall apart. But it was solid and I was sad when it was finally over.
A small town preacher named Jesse Custer is suddenly possessed by a supernatural creature called Genesis, created by the unholy union of an angel and a demon. Being possessed of both pure good and pure evil it could be the only creature in existence that can rival the power of God. Which means Jesse Custer may now be the most powerful being in existence. But he also has a strong moral code and so embarks on a journey to find God, who hightailed it out of heaven the moment Genesis was born. He’s accompanied by his ex-girlfriend, Tulip, and an irish vampire alcoholic called Cassidy.
Various studios have been trying to bring this story to screen since the late 90’s with no success. But based on Seth Rogan and Evan Goldberg’s pilot, AMC has committed to the series to the overwhelming joy of Preacher fans everywhere! Creators Dillon and Ennis will co-executive produce. Dominic Cooper was only just announced cast as Jesse Custer. Ruth Negga, from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. will play Tulip, and Joseph Gilgun is Cassidy. All excellent casting choices! My money is on this series blowing The Walking Dead out of the water.
Why you should read it first: This gloriously blasphemous series has influenced other widely renowned comics such as Stephen King’s Dark Tower: The Gunslinger Born and Y: The Last Man. It is widely regarded as one of the best limited graphic novel series of all time. Really, it’s just… amazing.
Do you have an opinion? Have you read these books? There is a comments section below! Let’s talk! Keep an eye out for Part II of this series, because so many of my favorite books are getting adapted I couldn’t fit them all in to one post!