The days of speculative fiction readers bemoaning the lack of films based on books are over. New adaptations are being announced at such a frenetic pace that it's hard to keep up with them all. But fear not, O lover of books and the films that get made from them...here's another installment in a series of articles that keep you up to date on the upcoming film and television adaptations of science fiction, fantasy and horror books.
The Magicians by Lev Grossman
The Magicians is Lev Grossman's 2009 fantasy about a teenager named Quentin who is enrolled in an exclusive college for magicians in upstate New York. There, he learns that the magical world he’s discovered in books is actually real. He also learns that magic is not all that it's cracked up to be. It does, however, prepare Quentin and his small group of friends for an adventure upon graduation…one that’s both thrilling and dangerous. Think of this one as "Harry Potter for grown-ups."
It's been reported that the Syfy channel is developing a series based on The Magicians. Associated with the production are Sera Gamble (former showrunner for Supernatural), John McNamara, and producer Michael London. Gamble and McNamara will write the script. No word yet on whether the series will only cover the first book in Lev Grossman's trilogy, or whether it will also extend to the sequels The Magician King (2011) and The Magician’s Land (coming in August 2014). This one looks promising if for no other reason than Grossman's novel has been lauded by readers and critics alike.
Blackbirds by Chuck Wendig
What would you do if you could see how and when a person would die? That's the premise of Chuck Wendig's dark urban fantasy series named after its protagonist, Miriam Black. Blackbirds is the first in this thrilling series. (It's followed by Mockingbird and The Cormorant.) Miriam Black is able to foresee the details of a living person's death. Tormented by her ability—or more accurately, tormented from being unable to prevent what she sees from coming true—Miriam has given up trying to save lives. Things change when she hitches a ride with a truck driver named Louis Darling and sees that in 30 days Louis will be gruesomely murdered while he calls her name. Worse, Miriam sees that she herself will be the next victim. So, in order to save herself, she must save Louis.
Blackbirds was also a well-received novel that did not go unnoticed; it has been optioned as a television show on the Starz channel. The executive producer/showrunner tied to the project is John Shiban, who has had success at Starz with Da Vinci’s Demons. Shiban himself adapted the book for Starz. And for those who fear that an adaptation strays too much from the source material, know that author Chuck Wendig says that the project is an “appropriately faithful” adaptation of the book.
A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness is about 13-year-old boy named Conor O’Malley who, in addition to being the target of bullies at school, has nightmares about his mother’s failing health. But the monster he sees in his nightmares outside his bedroom window is quite real. It's an ancient tree come to life who tells Conor stories and asks him to tell the truth. Conor’s relationship with the tree monster helps him come to terms with his mother’s illness. The idea for the book came from award-winning author Siobhan Dowd—whose premature death from cancer prevented her from writing it herself.
It's been reported that author Patrick Ness has adapted his own novel A Monster Calls into a screenplay for Focus Features. The film is being directed by J.A. Bayona, who directed The Impossible and the just-announced World War Z 2 (the sequel to a film that is itself an adaptation). Stars currently attached to the project include Felicity Jones (The Amazing Spider-Man 2) as the boy’s mother and Liam Neeson as the monster. Focus Features will distribute the fantasy/drama in the U.S. in October 2016.
Black Man/Thirteen by Richard K. Morgan
One of the most refreshing voices in science fiction is Richard K. Morgan. A prime example of this is his Arthur C. Clarke Award–winning novel Black Man (released in the United States as Thirteen). Morgan's 2008 novel is about a man named Carl Marsalis who was genetically engineered by the U.S. government to be a new breed of soldier; one meant to serve as the ultimate military fighting machine. But Marsalis and his fellow “Thirteens,” branded as mutants by a frightened public, are exiled to a desolate Mars colony. Marsalis manages to slip his way back into human society, earning a nice living as a skilled bounty hunter and hit man—until he is caught and lands in jail. There, the government gives him a new choice: finish his days in prison or use his skills to capture a fugitive. The problem? That fugitive is another Thirteen, and a murderous psychotic one at that.
Richard K. Morgan’s futuristic noir thriller is being optioned for film by producers Kate Cohen and Marisa Polvino (who produced the Johnny Depp film Transcendence). Kenny Golde (who most recently adapted Isaac Asimov’s End of Eternity) will be writing the screenplay.