If you like books, you fall into one of two camps. In one camp are those who would love to see the books they've read adapted for film or TV so they can experience the story in a whole new way. In the other camp are readers who cherish the story so much that they are apprehensive about the changes that will inevitably result from telling the story in a different medium. No matter which camp you are in, you'll want to know which books you should read now before you see them (or avoid them) on screen. Here's a pile of science fiction and fantasy books you should know about...
The Peripheral by William Gibson
Gibson, the bestselling author of the cyberpunk classic Neuromancer (which has already been optioned for film), is known for thoughtful examinations of near-future technology and its impact on society. The Peripheral takes place in both the near-future and several decades further on, after several catastrophes have killed off most of the world's population. In the near future, down-and-out Flynne Fisher finds a job beta-testing a drug that connects her to a virtual reality world where she witnesses the death of one of the characters. The trouble is, she's not in virtual reality at all. She experiencing one of London's possible futures where the elite survivors of that post-apocalyptic age can interact with people from the past via their peripheral avatars and manipulate the past to their liking. It's no wonder that The Peripheral has been optioned for a television series; this is an interesting take on time travel spun as a mystery thriller, and it also sets the groundwork for what could be multiple story lines. The project is being produced by Kilter Films in association with Warner Bros. Television and Amazon Studios, to be televised as an Amazon series. The series will be written by Scott B. Smith who will also serve as executive producer along with Westworld creators Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy.
Space Opera by Catherynne M. Valente
In this tongue-in-cheek space adventure (one of my picks for the best reads of the month earlier this year), the fate of the world rests upon the outcome of an intergalactic talent show called the Metagalactic Grand Prix. The contest, which includes contestants from sentient species all across the universe, was established to help restore hope to a war-torn galaxy. Rather than fight bloody wars, aliens compete to see who is the better performer. While seemingly less violent than war, the losers actually suffer the extinction of their race. Representing Earth for the first time are Decibel Jones and the Absolute Zeroes and the fate of the word depends upon their showmanship. Such a gladiatorial spectacle seems tailor-made for the screen, doesn't it? Universal Pictures thought so too. They've optioned the novel for a musical-themed film project. It's still too early to know more, but start your ideal casting speculations now.
Orphan X by Gregg Hurwitz
Hurwitz's Spy-Fi thriller is what you might get if you mashed together The Equalizer with the X-Files. A secret, off-the-books government program to train orphans to be elite assassins forms the basis for this fast-paced story. Evan Smoak was once Orphan X before he broke up the program and escaped into hiding using his new skills. He's since become a legend, using his abilities—and an impressive arsenal of technology—for good, helping deserving victims get justice. But the people who ran the Orphan program are not so easily left behind. They're still looking for Evan and they have an army of equally-trained assassins to find him. You can join the adventure when Justin Lin's Perfect Storm Entertainment adapts he book into a television series with Hurwitz himself working as a co-screenwriter.
The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gowar
In 18th-Century London, Jonah Hancock, a prosperous trade merchant, learns that one of his captains has traded Jonah's vessel for an object deemed to be of unequaled value. The object is a mermaid the size of an infant, sporting vicious teeth and claws. With his livelihood as a merchant all but destroyed, Jonah enters into London's seedy underbelly through a madam who knows what rich people want. As Jonah finds new and questionable ways to profit from his new possession, it affects the relationship he forms with Angelica, the most desirable woman Jonah has ever met. Gowar's historical-fantasy, which was lauded for its look at sexual politics and the wielding of power, has now been optioned for both TV and film rights by Playground Entertainment. It will be interesting to see this adaptation in either medium.
The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert
The lines between reality and fairy tale are, by design, a bit blurry in The Hazel Wood. The protagonist is Alice, a seventeen-year-old who has lived a life on the road with her mother, all the while remaining just one small step ahead a long-running streak of bad luck. When Alice's grandmother, the reclusive author of a collection of very dark fairy tales called Tales from the Hinterland, dies alone on her estate, Alice's luck goes from bad to worse. Her mother is kidnapped by a shadowy figure who claims to be from the Hinterland, the supernatural world where her grandmother's stories are set. Alice has no choice but to enlist the help of one of her classmates (a big fan of her grandmother's work who may have ulterior motives of his own) and enter the Hinterland. Columbia Pictures has optioned this young adult fantasy for film. Ashleigh Powell (Disney's The Nutcracker and the Four Realms) will adapt Melissa's Albert's novel.