The phrase "Coming soon to a theater near you!" doesn't always apply when filmmakers scoop up the television and film rights of science fiction, fantasy & horror books. Sometimes those options go unused. Of course, that doesn't stop us from noticing that someone thought a story was good enough to adapt in the first place—which draws our attention to stories that might have otherwise gone unnoticed.
Here's the latest roundup of science fiction, fantasy and horror stories that might find their way into your reading stack...
The Earthsea Series by Ursula K. Le Guin
Ursula K. Le Guin, one of literature's treasures, wrote five novels and nine short stories about Earthsea, a world of islands surrounded by an ocean. The first novel, A Wizard of Earthsea (1968), is about a young, inexperienced wizard named Ged, and how he misused his magical powers, put lives in danger, and learned to properly master his gift. He even attends a school of magic, decades before Harry Potter ever did. Le Guin's mighty coming-of-age story has already been adapted twice—once as an ill-fated Sci Fi Channel adaptation in 2004 that missed many points of the novel, and again in 2006 by Studio Ghibli in the loosely-based adaptation Tales from Earthsea—and it's about to get a third one. Producer Jennifer Fox (The Bourne Legacy) has optioned Le Guin's entire Earthsea series for film. Seeing as how the series has several novels, it's probably no great deductive leap that a popular film series is the hoped-for result.
"Nine Lives" by Ursula K. Le Guin
But wait! There's more! In addition to Le Guin's Earthsea stories and other adaptations in the works (like The Telling and The Left Hand of Darkness), the film rights to her novelette "Nine Lives" has also been purchased by a U.K. production company. The project is expected to be scripted by Tom Basden (who received acclaim for the Netflix series Fresh Meat) and will star Jonny Lee Miller (Elementary and Trainspotting) and Oscar-and Grammy-winner, Common (The Hate U Give). First published in the November 1969 issue of Playboy and reprinted in the collection The Wind's Twelve Quarters, "Nine Lives" has the distinction of being science fiction's first true clone story (or at least, the one that first uses that term). The story concerns a group of human clones—genetic copies of an individual created through asexual reproduction—mining an alien planet, sent there to relieve the enormous amount of work dumped on two non-clone humans. The ten clones (comprised of 5 males and 5 females based on the same person) gives the story a foundation on which to examine the themes of self, individualism and social connections. Bring on the thought-provoking SciFi goodness!
The Ice Dragon by George R. R. Martin
George R. R. Martin's The Ice Dragon is a fantasy novella geared towards younger readers that predates his work on the popular Song of Ice and Fire series. It was first published in 1980 and then reworked and released as a chapbook in 2006 with illustrations by Yvonne Gilbert and again in 2007 with illustrations by Luis Royo. Martin's exciting adventure is about a girl named Adara and the wild dragon that only she could tame. Adara not only tamed it, she used it to protect her village from a lethal attack by fire dragons. Martin's children's book was recently optioned by Warner Animation Group, who would like to produce a family film based on this magical tale. Martin himself will serve as a producer on the project.
Recursion by Blake Crouch
If you've never heard of Recursion, it's because the book doesn't get published until June of next year. Crouch's science fiction thriller—which has already caught the eye of TV and film producers—revolves around a technology that allows us to vividly relive our memories. But it also allows those memories to be altered, thereby rewriting a person's entire life. Crouch's imaginative setting is apparently a fertile wellspring for story ideas, because it's being sourced for not only a film, but also a television universe. Shonda Rhimes and Betsy Beer's production company, Shondaland, and Matt Reeves' company, 6th & Idaho, nabbed the rights for the film and struck a deal with Netflix for a series. Sounds like it will be fun.
The Witches by Roald Dahl
The Witches is about a boy and his grandmother and the secret world of child-hating witch societies that exist all over the world. When a young boy and his grandmother learn of an upcoming visit by the leader of all witches—the Grand High Witch herself—and the witches' worst plot of all, the two of them aim to save the world. Although Dahl's children's fantasy has already been adapted (in a 1990 film starring Anjelica Huston and Rowan Atkinson, and directed by Nicolas Roeg), it looks like it's getting another one. Robert Zemeckis (Who Framed Roger Rabbit) has been tapped to write and direct a new version produced by his production company, with partners Alfonso Cuaron and Guillermo del Toro.
The Dan Shamble Series by Kevin J. Anderson
If you like both noir detective stories and zombie stories, I have some good news: the October issue of Locus Magazine reported that the TV rights to Kevin J. Anderson's Dan Shamble, Zombie PI series were optioned by Marisol Nichols's production company, Nicolette ENT. Anderson's first-undead-person-narrated series (beginning with 2012's Death Warmed Over) is about a zombie sleuth who solves mysteries in a supernatural setting where vampires, werewolves, mummies—and, yes, zombies—exist. In the series opener, Dan, along with his human lawyer partner and ghost girlfriend, aims to solve his own murder.
Dracula by Bram Stoker
One of horror literature's most famous characters is the title character from Bram Stoker's 1897 gothic horror novel Dracula. That book was the groundwork for countless literary vampire tales that continue to this day. The story—which features the charismatic Count Dracula, Jonathan Harker and his fiancée Mina, and Renfield, Dracula's steward—is about the Count's attempts to move from Transylvania to England and spread the curse of the undead. It's already been adapted numerous times in one form or another, but that hasn't stopped the BBC and Netflix from launching a new project. This new miniseries will consist of three 90-minute episodes and is being written by Sherlock scribes Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat. I can't wait.