We continue with Part 2 of my wish list of books I want to see adapted to the screen. As of this writing, a few of these titles have been optioned, but no production information exists beyond that (except in the case of the last in the list, but again, this project is on hold indefinitely). Many books get optioned and nothing happens for years, or ever, for that matter. I care enough about these properties to wait until they get it right, I just hope I won’t have to wait too long.
Set in a near future dystopian England where the majority of humanity has been infected by a strain of Ophiocordyceps unilateralis – also known as the “zombie fungus”. The infected humans (that survived) are called “hungries” and feed off the healthy flesh of uninfected humans. The uninfected live in either heavily armed bunkers or roam the countryside in bands called “junkers”. The Beacon is a militarized bunker that also houses a research facility investigating children that have been infected. One particular child, while obviously infected, does not exhibit the same symptoms as the others, and also has heightened intellectual abilities. When the base is overrun, the few to escape are the child, her teacher, a few military personnel, and a scientist. They now have to make it 90 miles south on foot to the next known stronghold.
This story definitely has feature film potential, even with the over saturation of zombie films these days. The key would be to make it less about the “hungries” and more about the little girl, her desires/agenda and her relationships to the other characters. It would also be a great opportunity to introduce a new young female star. I have no idea who I’d like to make this, but it already has Joss Whedon’s stamp of approval. I would be on board if he found a great writer and director, and he stayed on to produce. I trust him implicitly.
Why you should read it: The Girl With All The Gifts is to zombie stories as The Passage is to vampire stories, though much less wide in scope. It’s a compact story that’s both creepy and exciting. M.R. Carey, most well known for his writing on the Hellblazer series and X-Men: Legacy, takes what could have been a tired zombie premise and makes it interesting again. Added bonus, it just came out in paperback!
A comet appears in the sky and shortly thereafter people start manifesting super powers. But those gifted individuals, called Epics, start using these powers for evil; taking over cities, starting wars. Ten years on and the population of the world is decimated and the remainder live in chaos under the control of the Epics. David Charleston’s father was killed by an epic in Chicago, called Steelheart, when he was just a boy and he has thought of nothing but revenge since. When he’s a teenager he comes across a small group of human freedom fighters, called The Reckoners. Together they put a plan in motion to start taking out the epics and restoring freedom to the people. But it’s never quite that simple.
As of now 20th Century Fox has optioned the film rights, but no additional information is available. They’ve got all the X:Men films, the recent Maze Runner, and the new Planet of the Apes films under their belt so I suspect they could do a good job on this not-quite-superhero action film. The entire city of Chicago, called Newcago in the book, has been turned to steel by Steelheart (just one of his many powers), so the hope is they would exploit this stylistic opportunity and not turn it into a steel version of the Hunger Games or something (i.e. all digital). I see something like Escape From New York meets Aeon Flux meets Divergent, or something.
Why you should read it: Brandon Sanderson is one of the most prolific sci-fi/fantasy writers of our day. His venture into the YA genre has resulted in a fully realized and unique future dystopia with the world of superheroes completely turned on its head. The corrupting influence of power is only one of the themes of this highly entertaining story. I’m halfway through the 2nd in the series, Firefight, and am enjoying it fully. The series is an excellent choice for adults who are looking for some entertaining sci-fi, or for young readers that want something new and interesting that will challenge the way they see the world.
In the near future a highly contagious virus makes its way across the planet. Most people exhibit flu-like symptoms and recover. But for about 1% of the population (that’s around 7 million people) the disease progresses aggressively to eventually cause Locked-In syndrome – a condition where a person is completely aware but unable to react to stimulus due to total paralysis of all voluntary muscle groups (this is a real condition – I recommend watching the Julian Schnabel film The Diving Bell and the Butterfly to get a sense of what it is like for the patient). However, in this near future world a company has developed a way for those with this condition, called Hadens, to be hooked up to, and control, cybernetic humanoid bodies so they can resume living in the world. To complicate things a certain set of the population can also be used as Integrators, meaning they are able to let Hadens control their bodies for a contracted period of time. When an Integrator is accused of murder things get even more complicated, not just because he might have been under the control of a Haden at the time, but because an FBI agent on the case is also a Haden, which are quickly becoming a marginalized group in society as the political will to continue funding Haden research is disappearing.
Lock In has been optioned by Legendary for a TV pilot, but nothing further has happened on this project. The danger on genre material like this is to make it far too clean and polished looking (e.g. Surrogates or Almost Human). Not every film or TV show about cyborgs or virtual reality worlds needs to look like Minority Report or iRobot. Almost Human had potential to be a great show but got lost in its own futurism. Keeping the story focused on the political and interpersonal realities of the characters is key for this to succeed. Also, it’s the near future, it’s not really going to look all that different from how things look now.
Why you should read it: Lock In is full of big ideas but is also incredibly readable. In addition to the novel there is a short story available online for free, that outlines the progression of Haden’s Syndrome across the globe, told in a series of personal vignettes. This is the first Scalzi I’ve ever read and I’m super keen to pick up RedShirts next.
“Life sucks and then you die. Or, if you’re James Stark, you spend eleven years in Hell as a hitman before finally escaping, only to land back in the hell-on-earth that is Los Angeles.” It’s hard know where to start with this series, which is currently six novels in with a seventh due out this summer, because it’s gone so far beyond the first novel (I mean, literally to Hell and back). James Stark, aka Sandman Slim, is a punk rock warlock, though if you call him that he might just punch you in the face, if you are lucky. He’s caught in a world he despises but that he could not exist without. The SubRosa (magical mortals), demons, vampires, angels, God, Lucifer, the Angra Om Ya (old gods) all exist and just can’t seem to leave Sandman Slim well enough alone. But as much as he’d like to just send them all the Hell (which is very much like Los Angeles, btw), he still has a moral code of sorts, and though it may not be the same as mine or yours, it’s still there. He saves the world more than once, gets his sweet revenge (sort of), and curses all the while.
This series has been optioned for film by De Laurentis Company, who, in case you don’t know, brought us cinema like Blue Velvet, Dune, Evil Dead II and Serpico, among countless others. Kadrey himself is quite the film buff and he wouldn’t hand over the reigns to this project if he didn’t believe the Dino De Laurentis Company would do his story justice. As for the script, it’s still in development and I’ve heard a rumor that it’s going to be a whole new story and not an adaptation, which is very exciting. It’s always great when a character, as opposed to a story, gets adapted and you get to experience something completely new. Kadrey’s kept mum on who he’d like to play Sandman Slim, though it seems he does have an idea. Personally I’d like someone not too famous in the role, someone who can hide inside the part so we don’t get distracted by his name. As for supporting cast though, I’m just gonna throw it out there that Vincent Cassel would make an amazing Vidocq.
Why you should read it: Part hard-boiled detective novel, part supernatural-noir revenge story, Sandman Slim is the most irreverent, blasphemous, outrageously good time I have ever had reading a series. If I wasn’t so adult I’d want Sandman Slim to be my boyfriend. Okay, maybe not, but I would definitely go on adventures with him so long as I could bring an enchanted samurai sword and drink a bottle of bourbon when we were done. Which, of course, I could.
For those fans out there, book seven, Killing Pretty, is available for pre-order NOW!
A circus appears suddenly, with no warning. It’s only open at night and the attractions are not exactly your typical circus-fare (a garden made of ice, acrobats soaring with out nets, etc). Behind the scenes two magicians apprentices are locked in a competition which plays itself out on the circus grounds. But as time goes on neither apprentice seems to be winning, and the stakes for everyone involved with the circus are raised as other forces start to intervene, everyone with their own agenda.
As of now the film rights have been acquired by Summit Entertainment for a feature film, with Moira Buffini set to write the screenplay. David Heyman, of Heyday Films is producer, which is excellent as he was the man responsible, basically, for all the Harry Potter films getting made. Maybe he can get Alfonso Cuaron to direct… fingers crossed.
Why you should read it: A modern dark fairy tale that would do The Brothers Grimm proud. It’s enchanting, phantasmagorical, mesmerizing, and all the other words like those. And the writing itself is gorgeous, worthy of its subject to say the least. I took this book to Jamaica with me and couldn’t put it down. So basically, this book defeated Jamaica.
After a supremely intelligent A.I. attains sentience and attempts to wipe out the human civilization, small bands of people search for a way to defeat it. But the A.I., known as Archos, is connected to every computer and robot that has network capabilities. It can see and hear almost everything, and self-preservation is its top priority. The story is told from the multiple perspectives of the people involved, from the first day Archos became aware, through the following war, and the resistance movement that came after.
Steven Spielberg currently holds the license to this property, but the project is on hold indefinitely due to script issues. It’s laudable that he’s really trying to get this property right, but I’m having a hard time getting excited about him making this film. It seems to me that the more money is thrown at a film, the less nuance remains in the story. And call me crazy, but I don’t think anyone is interested in a stylistic sequel to Spielberg’s A.I. *yawn*
Now I want to be clear, no matter who makes these movies, I will go see them. My love of these stories demands it. So my plea to the universe, to all the filmmaking gods out there, don’t ruin it for me. K? K!
Thoughts? Opinions? Share in the comments below!