Films and television shows based on speculative fiction books are the new norm. Want proof? Check out these books, which have recently been optioned for film and television adaptations. Sure, an option to adapt doesn't necessarily mean that audiences will get to see a final product…but it's still fun to see which books turned the collective heads of Hollywood.
Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie
Ann Leckie's fresh and unique novel Ancillary Justice explored themes of gender and swept several literary awards including the Hugo Award, the Nebula Award, the Arthur C. Clarke Award, the British Fantasy Award and the Locus Award. It's the story about Justice of Toren, who was once a starship with an artificial intelligence linking thousands of corpse soldiers under service to the Radch Empire, but who now appears on a remote, icy planet as a human soldier on a revenge mission against the Lord of the Radch. (A sequel, Ancillary Sword, was recently published as well.)
An option for a television adaptation of Ancillary Justice was recently purchased by the production company Fabrik and Fox Television Studios, who together produced Burn Notice and The Killing. Leckie has stated that she worked closely with the production company to make sure that the show would remain true to its gender-exploration themes and was assured that it would.
Tomorrow and Tomorrow by Thomas Sweterlitsch
In the media-soaked near future of tomorrow, Pittsburgh is all but forgotten since it was reduced to ash more than a decade before. But survivor John Dominic Blaxton remembers. In fact, he's obsessed with the past, mostly because his wife, who died in the blast, was still alive and pregnant with their unborn child. Blaxton regularly relives those happier days thanks to the Archive, a fully interactive digital reconstruction of old Pittsburgh. Dominic also uses the Archive to solve old cases—and when a newly discovered glitch in the system breaks Dominic's cycle of grief, he is thrust into conspiracy that poses some very real-world danger.
Rights to Sweterlitsch's dystopian mystery—which is more of a statement of our current times than future prediction—were scooped up by Sony Pictures even before the book was released last summer. The book is being adapted by screenwriter Noah Oppenheim, who adapted James Dashner's best-selling young adult novel The Maze Runner.
"The Things They Left Behind" by Stephen King
Not too long ago, I talked about the seemingly never-ending feast of Stephen King stories being adapted to TV and film. Those articles are already outdated! Based on the success of the current hit Under the Dome, CBS has picked up the rights to King's 2003 short story "The Things They Left Behind." (The story was reprinted as part of the 2008 King collection Just After Sunset.) It's a story about the guilt felt by a 9/11 survivor who, a year after the horrifying event, begins to experience some very strange things…like seeing objects belonging to his late colleagues suddenly appearing in his apartment. (Cue Twilight Zone music.)
As for the CBS adaptation, Seth Grahame-Smith (screenwriter of Dark Shadows and author/screenwriter of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter) has been brought on to adapt the series for television. It will revolve around an unlikely pair of investigators who carry out the unresolved business of the dead.
The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare
The Mortal Instruments is Cassandra Clare's young adult urban fantasy series that began with the book City of Bones, in which a young girl discovers her true destiny after she stumbles upon a secret world of demons that co-exists with our own. You may remember that an adaptation of Cassandra Clare's City of Bones was released as a film in 2013 (The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones) and was expected to mimic the Twilight phenomenon. Yeah…that didn't happen. But this poor box office performer has found new life as a proposed television series reboot. The rights holder to the books and producer of the film, Constantin Film, is now adapting the story as a "high-end drama" television series to begin next year. When asked about the medium switch from film to TV, Constantin head Martin Moszkowicz cited television as a better canvas for telling the complex, detailed story that's told in the books. Not much more is known so far, but time will tell if this reboot is more successful.
Noggin by John Corey Whaley
Speaking of young adult books, John Corey Whaley's YA novel Noggin has also been optioned for film. The book is being adapted by Summit Entertainment and screenwriter Jamie Linden, who adapted the Nicholas Sparks novel Dear John.
Noggin is the story of a terminally ill young man who agrees to be cryogenically frozen until a cure is found for his disease. Five years later, he wakes up to find that his head has been grafted onto someone else's body. Although he is still 16 years old, his friends have moved on, including his girlfriend who is now married to another man. Like Whaley's previous book, Where Things Come Back, Noggin has been lauded for its literary merit and the film rights were picked up before the book was even published.