I like reading books as much as the next guy, but every now and then I like to go to the movies. And like you might expect from a science fiction and fantasy reader, I tend to gravitate toward sci-fi and fantasy films. What's even more satisfying is going to see films based on science fiction and fantasy books. Why? Because (1) it gives me a reason to read more so (2) I can play the compare-and-contrast game.
If you're like me, then you will appreciate that more and more science fiction and fantasy books are being turned into theatrical films and television series. Here's the latest roundup of upcoming genre adaptations readers should be aware of.
Sandman by Neil Gaiman
Sandman is a graphic-novel series written by Neil Gaiman and illustrated by various artists including Sam Kieth, Mike Dringenberg, Jill Thompson, Shawn McManus, Marc Hempel, Michael Zulli and Dave McKean. It's one of the few graphic novels to make the New York Times best-seller list in its run of 75 issues. All of these issues are still in print, collected in 10 volumes—each of which include multiple issues of the comic books. The comics even inspired a prose anthology series called Sandman.
The series follows a character named Sandman (also known as the Lord of Dreams, or just Dream, and various other names), a man who is essentially the physical embodiment of your dreams. The series opens with Dream (then known as Morpheus) being captured and held prisoner for 70 years. He escapes into the modern world and goes on a quest for his lost objects of power. He learns, however, that things have changed significantly. Dream must learn to adapt to his new surroundings, both in the Dream World and the Waking World.
Actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Inception) announced that he is working with Sandman author Neil Gaiman and David S. Goyer (The Dark Knight, Man of Steel) on a new Warner Bros. project based on the Sandman graphic novel. Gordon-Levitt himself will star as Dream (aka the Sandman) who rules over the world of dreams. The suspicion is, based on a Twitter hashtag Gordon-Levitt used to announce the news, that the film is not based off the original issue of Sandman, but rather based on the Preludes & Nocturnes volume, which includes the first 8 issues of Sandman.
Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman
Neil Gaiman is on a winning streak. In addition to Sandman, his 2005 fantasy novel Anansi Boys is also being adapted, this time as a miniseries on BBC TV. The novel's central idea is that the trickster West African god Anansi is real. The story concerns his two sons who are polar opposites from one another, meeting for the first time. The novel won Gaiman the British Fantasy Award.
This project is still in the early stages of development, so not much is known about it at this point. More to come!
Vicious by V. E. Schwab
Not all superhero stories you on the screen are based on comic books and graphic novels. Case in point: Vicious by V.E. Schwab, an unassuming story about power and corruption. Vicious is about two former college roommates and friends, each of whom have an interest in examining the possibility that humans can develop super powers. Naturally (for a science-fiction novel, at least) their experiments prove that super powers are indeed obtainable, but that shocking reality pits these former friends as enemies.
The book, just recently published, has already been optioned for film. Ridley Scott (the director behind Blade Runner, Alien, Prometheus and another science-fiction adaptation, Wool) is tied to the project as producer. It remains to be seen how much of the original story will be maintained. Hopefully the central themes of the book will remain: corruption and the hunger for power.
Intruders by Michael Marshall Smith
Sometimes science fiction takes you be surprise simply by its presence. That's the case with Michael Marshall Smith's book The Intruders. It concerns an ex-cop named Jack Whalen who not only has a troubled past, but must also contend with the fact that his wife has gone missing. Add to that Jack's friend, a lawyer who wants Jack to help find a noted scientist who has also gone missing; in this case, after his family was brutally murdered. There's a third missing person, too: a 9-year-old girl who is subsequently found miles away, but is far from being an innocent victim. While the premise sounds purely like a psychological thriller, it ultimately contains elements of the fantastic (which might explain why the novel is compared to the work of Stephen King).
News recently broke that BBC America is moving forward with a new original series called Intruders based on Smith's novel, and with it comes details about those fantastic elements. It reveals the premise as being about a secret society bent on pursuing immortality by seeking refuge in the bodies of others. The show begins production in Spring 2014, but you can read the book right now.