Television and film producers are scooping up the rights to science fiction stories faster than the speed of light. While purchasing the rights doesn't guarantee a final production, it's the first step towards readers seeing their favorite stories adapted for the big and small screens. Here's the latest roundup of science fiction adaptations that could be heading your way...
The Power by Naomi Alderman
A new world order begins when teenage girls around the world develop the ability to discharge dangerous amounts of electricity from their hands, and also pass that power on to older women, too. As fear spreads, so do instances of discrimination, segregation and accusations of witchcraft. Alderman's book is—if you'll pardon the expression—powerful. That's why producers will be turning this into a 10-part series being developed for the Amazon streaming service. The series will chart the course of this world-changing ability from its beginnings.
They Both Die at The End by Adam Silvera
Producers are always on the lookout for the next big young adult hit. They may have found it in Silvera's book, which posits an alternate present in which a company called Death-Cast not only knows when people are going to die, but also calls them to tell them that this is their End Day. Mateo and Rufus are two New York teenagers who receive that call and decide to seize their last day together after connecting through the Last Friend phone app. Despite the dark subject matter, the book is described as an uplifting story. In the hands of J.J Abrams and HBO, however, the adaptation is being spun as a SciFi comedy. As would make sense for a series, the show expands the story's characters, following several people instead of just two.
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
How many adaptations of Shelley's classic can there be? One more, apparently. Frankenstein, published in 1818 and often cited as the first certifiable science fiction novel (even though it also intersects with horror), is essentially a warning about man playing the part of god. Doctor Frankenstein's creature is a tortured soul whose creation spurs tragedy after tragedy. CBS will be producing a modernized version of the classic, spinning it as a procedural cop drama. How, you ask? By resurrecting a homicide detective killed in the line of duty. Surprise! He's not the same person at all.
The Mother Code by Carole Stivers
If you've never heard of this science fiction thriller, it's because it won't be published until next year. But that didn't stop Steven Spielberg's Amblin Partners from acquiring the worldwide film rights to it. Louise Johnson (Nightflyers) will write the script based on the story told by biochemist Stivers. The premise is that, after mankind has all but destroyed the planet through the use of a biological weapon, unborn children are nurtured by artificially intelligent mother robot mothers so that the planet might be repopulated.
Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut
Vonnegut, a noted satirist, takes on the end of the world. The 1963 story follows a reporter researching a book about one of the engineers of the atomic bomb. Along the way, he discovers an even more devastating weapon and, through a series of odd events, ends up the dictator of a small Caribbean island. Noah Hawley, who spectacularly adapted the film Fargo for television, will adapt Cat's Cradle as well. Filming begins next year, but don't expect this to air on the FX channel in 2021.
This Is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone
Mixing time travel and espionage, this story (which will be released in July) is about a pair of time traveling spies from warring futures who, attempting to rectify their respective timelines, travel back to the past where they meet and fall in love. The story, described by El-Mohtar as an "epistolary spy vs. spy novella," is told through letters the two characters write to one another. Both writers will sever as co-screenwriters and executive co-producers.
The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
Stevenson's gothic 1886 novella, which examines the dual nature lurking within all of us, is about a doctor who develops a serum that transforms him into someone who enjoys a very darker side of life. It's a classic that, like Frankenstein, has seen many adaptations and more than one retelling. But a forthcoming adaptation will be the first musical film version. To be fair, it's based on a 1997 stage musical of the story, so maybe a musical wouldn't be that unreasonable. Is Hugh Jackman available?
The Laundry Files by Charles Stross
The Laundry Files is actually a popular series of novels—combining elements of Lovecraftian horror, spy fiction and humor—about a British spy organization (The Laundry) that deals with occult threats that are usually hidden from the public view. Stross himself has revealed that the fun series has (again) been picked up for adaptation, this time by a British production company. It's still too early to know if anything will come of it, but we're crossing our fingers. If you want to get started with the series—and you should—pick up The Atrocity Archives.