If you're like me, before you see films and television shows that are based on books, you like to read the books first. It's fun to see how the story has been adapted to suit the new medium. To that end, I've been tracking the science fiction, fantasy, and horror books that have been optioned for television and film adaptation. Here's the latest roundup of those books. Read them now and watch them later should they ever make it to the screen.
The Telling by Ursula k. Le Guin
The Telling is part of Le Guin's incredibly woven tapestry of Hainish novels and stories—which The Library of America recently collected into a must-have two-volume collection. The premise of the Hainish stories is that the population of many planets (including Earth) were long ago seeded with human beings by the Hain race. Thousands of years later, these planets are invited to join the benevolent collective of planets known as the Ekumen. Despite the grand scale and science fictional premise, Le Guin's novels are remarkably accessible, owing to the fact that her stories heavily focus on the people and the sociological implications of events. In The Telling, an envoy named Sutty Dass is sent from a war-torn planet Earth to the planet Aka where she acts as an Observer for the Ekumen. Sutty is expecting a society with deep knowledge of their history, thanks to the Telling, a long tradition of storytelling. Instead, she finds that belief system replaced by a form of corporate communism. Sutty must learn why the world has almost entirely forgotten its long history. There's a film version of The Telling on its way. Production company Bayview Films has already announced that Rekha Sharma (Battlestar Galactica, Star Trek: Discovery) will star as Sutty. The film is being written and directed by Leena Pendharkar, who directed the film 20 Weeks.
The Feed by Nick Clark Windo
In this still-new and notable book, Windo paints a dystopian vision of an always-connected society all but addicted to the flow of information. The Feed is accessible everywhere giving everyone unlimited information at their fingertips. You want to download your social media feed directly into your brain? No problem. The danger with such a high reliance on the technology becomes painfully apparent when the Feed goes offline and society begins to crumble. The Feed follows a young couple (Tom, whose father invented the Feed, and his wife Kate) as they try to find their six-year-old daughter who has gone missing. This harrowing tale was recently adapted as a ten-episode television show by Amazon and Liberty Global. It will be produced by The Walking Dead executive producer Channing Powell. The lead director of the series is Carl Tibbetts (Humans and Black Mirror).
Kushiel's Dartby Jacqueline Carey
Kushiel's Dart, the first book in the Kushiel's Legacy epic fantasy series, takes place in a medieval world that is modeled after Earth's geography; specifically, in the land of Terre d'Ange (based on France), which was founded by angels and where love and physical pleasure is a central aspect of society. The main character, Phèdre nó Delaunay, is sold into indentured servitude as a child, but her bond is eventually bought by an enigmatic nobleman. The nobleman educates Phédre and trains her as courtesan and observer, thus making her the perfect spy. When Phédre discovers a plot that threatens her homeland, she tries to warn her people of the impending invasion. Kushiel's Dart has long been a favorite of readers, who would love to see it adapted to film. Carey once said in an interview that the book's length and sex scenes would hamper that, but that Game of Thrones may have opened up some doors. She might be right. Locus Magazine recently reported that film rights to Carey's epic fantasy were optioned by 3arts entertainment.
The Ferryman Trilogy by Claire McFall
Claire McFall seems to have struck gold with her young adult Ferryman series. The first novel of the series, Ferryman, was McFall's debut. It's a modern-day retelling of the ancient Greek myth of Charon, who you may know as being the ferryman of Hades who transported souls to the underworld. Here, a young girl named Dylan is on a train when it crashes. Thinking she survived the ordeal, she realizes she's actually in the land between life and death, a wasteland where wraiths look for souls to bring to the other side. Tristan is the Ferryman who is tasked with bringing Dylan safely to the afterlife. However, Dylan realizes her attraction to Tristan and refuses to go. Ferryman's sequels are Trespassers and an untitled third novel due next year. That didn't stop Legendary Entertainment from optioning the entire series. It's too early yet to know more, but that just gives you more time to read the whole trilogy.
Conan The Barbarian by Robert E. Howard
These days, Conan the Barbarian is probably best known via the 2011 film starring Jason Momoa or the 1982 Arnold Schwarzenegger flick. But Conan actually got his start in 1932 in the pages of pulp magazines. That's when Robert E. Howard began writing numerous short stories about the adventures of the sword and sorcery hero. Conan's heroics occur in the fictional "Hyborian Age," set after the "oceans drank Atlantis" and before the rise of the known ancient civilizations. Amazon Studios realized that numerous short adventures of Conan sound perfect for a television series, so they've optioned the material. The series returns Conan to his literary origins, who was driven out of his tribal homelands. He wanders the treacherous lands searching for purpose in a place that rejects him as a mindless savage. If you want to catch up on your Conan reading, I recommend starting with The Coming of Conan the Cimmerian, the first volume in a series of Conan collections.
A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay
In this psychological suspense and supernatural horror, the lives of a normal suburban New England family are torn apart when fourteen-year-old Marjorie begins to display signs of acute schizophrenia. Her parents reluctantly turn to a local Catholic priest for help. He suspects that Marjorie is possessed by a demon and wants to perform an exorcism. Because the parents are strapped for cash, they agree to let a production company film the exorcism. The family soon becomes the unwitting stars of a hit reality television show, an event that passes into urban legend. Fifteen years later, Marjorie's younger sister, Merry, is interviewed about the events that occurred when she was just eight years old. When Merry recalls those events, the real truth about what happened emerges. Focus Features hopes that this winner of the 2015 Bram Stoker Award will attract viewers. They've optioned the rights to produce the film and brought several producers on board, including Team Downey (Susan Downey and Robert Downey Jr.). Osgood Perkins (I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House) will write and direct the film.