Where does Hollywood get its ideas? One answer is science fiction, which continues to be a wellspring of ideas for films, as evidenced by this latest roundup of sf book adaptations:
Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
Illuminae is the first book of a uniquely told trilogy written by the Australian writing team of Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff. It takes place in the year 2575 where a faraway mining colony planet is the subject of a war between two rival megacorporations. Two colonists, a teenage hacker named Kady and her fighter pilot ex-boyfriend Ezra, manage to escape a planetary attack, but are pursued by the enemy. As Kady hacks her way towards the truth of the skirmish—which includes a deadly plague and a rogue artificial intelligence—she realizes that the only way to stop the intergalactic conspiracy will require her speaking to Ezra again.
Brad Pitt's Plan B Entertainment production company has acquired the rights to produce a film version of Illuminae. They will have their hands full: much of the storytelling in the book is done through its interesting design. It's formatted as a series of dossiers, maps, text messages, and secret files that lay out the invasion and the part that the two teens play in it. It's certain that the storytelling method will be different for film, which usually takes a more traditional approach.
Mila 2.0 by Debra Driza
Being a teenager in small-town Minnesota is hard. Learning an unsuspected truth about your identity is even harder. That's exactly what happens to young Mila when she is involved in an accident and learns her true nature. Now she's on the run—not just from the people out to destroy her and her mother, but also from the secret organization that wants to capture her alive, unlock her advanced technology, and use her as a military weapon.
Mila 2.0 is only the first book of a proposed young adult trilogy. (The second book is called Mila 2.0: Renegade.) The entire trilogy is being adapted as a "video series" as part of a deal between HarperCollins Publishers and Insurrection Media. The press was careful to say "video series,” implying that if a home cannot be found on a television network, then it might land on a streaming media service like Netflix, Amazon, or Hulu.
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne
There's always a place in my heart for classic science fiction since it introduced me to the genre. The stories of Jules Verne, one of the genre's forefathers, have already had numerous adaptations, including a 1954 Walt Disney film version of his classic 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, which starred Kirk Douglas and James Mason. But that hasn't stopped Hollywood from double-dipping. It was recently announced that there will be yet another adaptation of Vernes' classic adventure. Bryan Singer (director of the X-Men films and Superman Returns) plans on directing the new remake, and promises moviegoers an “epic and emotional adventure for all ages.”
Vernes' source material, originally serialized in periodicals and published as a novel in 1870, is a great start—it begins with a hunt for a great sea monster. A French marine biologist named Professor Pierre Aronnax (the narrator of the story) joins an American expedition to hunt the creature, which turns out to not be a creature at all. It's actually a technologically advanced submarine (the Nautilus) commanded by the enigmatic Captain Nemo. Aronnax remains on board while Nemo and his crew undertake several adventures, including a giant squid and the lost city of Atlantis.
Into The Out Of by Alan Dean Foster
When you hear the term "alien invasion," the tendency is to think of powerful aliens that come to Earth, guns blazing, blowing up everything in sight. Sometimes the most effective invasion is one that happens without anyone knowing about it. That's the plan of the shetani, small creatures who inhabit the spirit world and are determined to take over our planet. They just might do it. The only person who might stop them is an African elder named Olkeloki who has the ability to fight evil in this world and the spirit one. Olkeloki enlists the help of a government agent and a young woman who works in a call center to save the world.
This adaptation may be slimmer than Olkeloki's chance at saving the world. It's still in very early stages, so there are no firm plans yet, but author Alan Dean Foster has revealed that a British film company has optioned the rights to his quiet invasion novel. His hope is that today's special effects technology can do this story justice.
Avtomat by Daniel H. Wilson
Never let anyone accuse Hollywood of dragging their feet. It rarely happens, but sometimes a book is optioned for film even before the book ever hits the street. That's the case with Daniel H. Wilson's next novel Avtomat. Wilson (author of Robopocalypse, which was optioned for a film directed by Steven Spielberg) sold his idea based on a 100-page treatment of a story even before the novel was completed. Is it premature to even include it in this roundup? Probably, but it's hard not to mention a successful author getting a second adaptation for an as-yet-unpublished book. Does your back burner have a back burner? Mark this one down for later.