One of the great thrills of being a book lover is seeing your favorite book getting adapted for television and film. Hollywood routinely mines the pages of books for story ideas with increasing frequency. As well they should! The pages of science fiction books contain some of the most well-thought-out ideas of storytelling. Check out these books, which might be coming soon to a screen near you…
We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler
While not considered by many to be a science fiction novel because it lacks the usual tropes of sf, Karen Joy Fowler's widely lauded book surely qualifies. It's a social science fiction novel in which the story's narrator, Rosemary, tells readers about her remarkable family history. What makes it so notable is that her "twin" sister Fern, long since gone from the family, is revealed to be a chimpanzee. Rosemary grew up as part of an experiment to study the effects of raising a chimp with human children, in this case Rosemary and her brother Lowell. While that may seem like a stretch of the imagination for readers to imagine how an animal can be perceived as a sister, Fowler's narrative power makes it not only believable, but the foundation for a heartfelt story that examines familial relationships and one girl's desire to finally fit in.
Fowler's thoughtful examination is being adapted as an HBO miniseries by Marta Kauffman, the co-creator of the sitcom Friends. Natalie Portman is slated to star as Rosemary, the woman who was affected by the loss of her sister and her brother, who left home at age 18 to find his missing sister and went on to become an animal rights activist with some extreme ideas about enacting change. This one is still in the early stages. That should give you plenty of time to read the book that was named by several newspapers as one of the best books of 2013.
The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber
Faber's The Book of Strange New Things is about a missionary named Peter who is sent into space far away from Earth to help colonize a distant planet named Oasis. The planet's seemingly friendly natives are hungry for his faith teachings and see his bible as a "book of strange new things." Through communications with his wife on Earth, Peter learns that things back home are deteriorating: governments are collapsing while environmental issues like typhoons and earthquakes are devastating entire countries. Meanwhile, the enigmatic corporation backing the colonization is placing demands on Peter that test his ideas of faith and love.
Amazon Studios, looking to build up their catalog of original programming, is working on an adaptation of Faber's interesting story. Richard Madden, star of another (and hugely popular) adaptation – Game of Thrones on HBO – has been signed on in a starring role. Also appearing is Haley Joel Osment, who you may remember from M. Night Shyamalan's 1999 surprise hit The Sixth Sense as the kid who sees dead people. If you want to put this one on your "To Watch" list, know that the show's name has not been finalized, but the working title is Oasis.
Naughts & Crosses by Malorie Blackman
Blackman's novel mixes the unrequited love of "Romeo and Juliet" with a story of the Haves and Have-Nots in a racially-charged thriller. Naughts & Crosses features an alternate English-like country where its segregated society is made of the first-class "Black Crosses" and the second-class "White Naughts." Young lovers-to-be Sephy and Callum sit on opposite sides of that divide. Sephy's father is slated to become the Prime Minister and rejects the union. Worse, when Sephy and her mother are nearly caught in a terrorist bombing linked to the Naughts, Callum's father is implicated…and now Sephy's father wants to see him hanged.
Blackman's young adult alternate history novel will soon be making its way to television. The BBC will be adapting it for BBC One. The novel, which appeared in reprints under the title Black & White, has been adapted twice before: as a 2008 play by the Royal Shakespeare Company and in 2012 as a BBC radio drama. If the series is successful, they could easily tap into the book's four sequels: An Eye For an Eye, Knife Edge, Checkmate, and Double Cross.
All Our Wrong Todays by Elan Mastai
Elan Mastai's unique time travel novel has the singular distinction in this list of being the only adaption in this roundup that was announced months ahead of the book's initial release. Paramount Pictures has already scooped up the rights to the book, which comes out this month. For those who worry that screenwriters butcher the original work when they adapt something for Hollywood, take heart: Mastai himself will write the screenplay. Although this is his first novel, it's not his first screenplay. He's written, among other things, the film What If? (2013) starring Daniel Radcliffe and Zoe Kazan, as well as The Samaritan (2012) starring Samuel L. Jackson.
So what is this debut sf novel about? It's about a man named Tom who lives in a utopian version of our world. Specifically, he lives in the retro future envisioned by classic science fiction; picture flying cars, moving sidewalks, and moon bases and you'll get the idea. Through a time travel mishap, Tom ends up on our imperfect Earth, which to Tom seems downright Dystopian. Suddenly the empty-but-familiar life he lived in his perfect world is replaced with a more promising one in this world. The good news is that Tom feels a better sense of belonging. The bad news is that he must decide between a new, unpredictable life and fixing the fabric of time and space by returning to the unfulfilling life he had.
The Last Policeman by Ben H. Winters
The Earth is in dire peril in Ben Winters' pre-apocalyptic mystery The Last Policeman. An asteroid headed towards Earth is just six months away from impact, but that doesn't mean that murder takes a holiday. While the rest of the world retreats from society, Detective Hank Palace investigates somebody's death because nobody else will. The death seems like one of the many suicides that occur on a daily basis since news of the asteroid was released, but Hank thinks something more might be going on. So, while the rest of the world prepares for the end, Hank hits the streets to look for a killer, apathetic to the social and economic collapse that is happening around him.
The Last Policeman won both the Edgar Award and the Philip K. Dick Award. Fans of this popular book will be happy to know that this bleak murder mystery will play out on the small screen. NBC has acquired the rights to adapt Winters' book for television. Winters himself will serve as one of the show's executive producers.