It seems like Hollywood is more and more turning to the pages of literature for story ideas. This is a bit of a double-edged sword for book lovers. On the one hand, they get to see a film version of their favorite reads. On the other hand, the change in storytelling medium usually means changes to the story and an adaptation that is not perhaps as faithful as it could be. (See the recent Peter Jackson version of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit.) Even so, that doesn't stop me, as a reader, from getting a little excited when I hear that books have been optioned for film. It is perhaps a reserved excitement—after all, not all books that are optioned actually make it to the screen—but it's still interesting to see what books have caught the attention of others and it gives me time to check out those books before they possibly show up onscreen.
To help you get that head start on such adaptations, here's the latest roundup of speculative fiction books that have taken this first step towards screens big and little.
The Strain by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan
Guillermo del Toro is known for his inventive, visionary films. A few years ago, he partnered with Chuck Hogan to co-author a trilogy of vampire novels. The first of these, The Strain, chronicles an outbreak of a virus in New York City. In it, Ephraim Goodweather, the head of a rapid-response team that investigates biological threats, is called in to investigate when a plane at JFK airport goes suddenly dark immediately after landing. "Eph" soon realizes this is no ordinary threat—Surprise! It's vampires—and forms a ragtag team of individuals (including a Setrakian, a World War II survivor-turned-pawnbroker who serves as the “Van Helsing” character) to confront the vampires. The Strain was followed by subsequent novels The Fall and The Night Eternal.
If you like vampire novels, now would be a good time to read this trilogy. It's been reported that FX has ordered 13 episodes of a television adaptation of The Strain. The pilot episode was co-written by del Toro and Hogan. Even better: del Toro directed that pilot episode. The television show is being billed as a “high concept thriller”.
Triggers by Robert J. Sawyer
If you need an introduction to science fiction, a good idea is to read a SF book that's accessible for newbie readers. Robert J. Sawyer has a propensity for writing accessible, near-future science-fiction stories and Triggers is one of them. In the book, an assassin's bullet sends President Seth Jerrison to a nearby hospital. Coincidentally, an experiment is underway in the building to create a device that can erase traumatic memories. An electromagnetic pulse triggers that device, allowing certain people in the hospital, including President Jerrison, to share each other's memories. National security alert! In the wrong hands, the President's memories will put lives at risk.
Sawyer himself broke the news recently that Triggers has been optioned for film by Toronto’s Copperheart Entertainment, a company best known for the science-fiction thriller Splice and for the Ginger Snaps series of horror films. Readers who cringe at the thought of one writer adapting another's work will be pleased to know that Sawyer himself has been commissioned to write the screenplay.
Martian Time-Slip by Philip K. Dick
Few writers have had as much of their work adapted to television and film as often as Philip K. Dick. Blade Runner, Total Recall, The Minority Report, Screamers, A Scanner Darkly, The Adjustment Bureau, Paycheck, Next...all of these films are based on the Dick's novels and stories. Filmmakers are dipping into that well again with a new project based on Dick's 1964 novel Martian Time-Slip. The novel, about a schizophrenic repairman living in a human colony on Mars, features a 10-year-old schizophrenic boy named Manfred Steiner who is marked by law for deportation and destruction, but is believed by some to be a window into seeing the future. That is, his perceived mental illnesses may simply be altered states of time perception.
The film adaptation of Martian Time-Slip is being written and directed by Dee Rees and produced Electric Shepherd Productions, the production company of Isa Dick Hackett, the daughter of Philip K. Dick. Electric Shepherd Productions was the production company behind 2011′s The Adjustment Bureau.