You have to give Hollywood credit. It seems that, now more than ever, producers of TV and films are turning toward written science fiction, fantasy and horror stories to use as the basis for new television and film productions. This trend is a genre-lover's dream come true. For years, we've bemoaned the lack of quality with the majority of sf/f/h films being served up in theaters and living rooms across the country. Sure, there have been many notable bright spots over the years, but more often than not, disappointment reigned supreme. The solution, as we saw it, was to pick up a book and turn it into a television show or film. Not only is that happening now, but it's happening so fast it's hard to keep up. Here's the latest batch of sf/f/h adaptation news, with the usual caveat that just because a story is optioned does not mean a TV/film production is a sure thing. Even so, it's fun to see which stories are being noticed.
Nod by Adrian Barnes
In Nod, a finalist for the Arthur C. Clarke Award, author Adrian Barnes poses a question: What would happen if most of the world's population suffered from chronic sleep deprivation? The answer is that it would lead to mass psychosis and quite possibly a new world order. In this harrowing thriller, the few people who can sleep share the same dream.
This is still in the superearly stages of development. What is known is that both the film and the television rights have been optioned by media giant Fox. It's interesting that they are leaving themselves open to the idea that this could be a series.
The Maze Runner by James Dashner
The Maze Runner is the first book in James Dashner's young-adult dystopian science-fiction series, and a New York Times best-selling series at that. The story is about a teenager named Thomas who wakes up in the "Glade" with no previous memories. The Glade is a large, open expanse surrounded by stone walls (to keep out the creatures) with no way out except for an elevator. The next day, a girl arrives in the Glade (the first one ever) and she has a mysterious message about the nature of the world in which they live.
Based on premise alone, the film version of The Maze Runner will no doubt appeal to the Hunger Games audience. It's being directed by Wes Ball, written by Noah Oppenheim and will star Dylan O'Brien, Thomas Sangster and Kaya Scodelario. It's set for a September 2014 release date.
Broken by A.E. Rought
Broken is a reimagining of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. It concerns a young girl named Emma Gentry whose boyfriend, Daniel, becomes the latest victim in a series of suspicious deaths near a small Michigan town. Of course, Emma naturally becomes depressed, but then she meets town newcomer Alex Franks, who she is strangely drawn to. Even stranger: There are eerie similarities between Alex and Daniel.
The author of Broken, A.E. Rought, reports that her novel has been optioned for an hour-long dramatic television series by ABC Family. This is good news, as the longer format leaves more room to explore the ideas of the novel, which mimic those of Shelley's classic novel.
Reviver by Seth Patrick
Seth Patrick's Reviver imagines a world where raising the dead is not only possible, it’s an integral part of society. In fact, forensic revival (pulling the recently deceased back into their bodies for a short period of time) helps capture more criminals: The recently-revived are witnesses to their own deaths and their courtroom testimonies help lawyers put the bad guys away. The thrust of the book itself concerns one particular reviver, Jonah Miller of the Forensic Revival Service, who encounters a terrifying presence while investigating an otherwise routine murder.
Hollywood obviously found the "CSI meets The Sixth Sense" elevator pitch of Reviver compelling and an interesting alternative to the zombie premise. It was optioned by Legendary Pictures, the company behind the blockbusters Dark Knight Rises, Inception and Watchmen.
"Six Months, Three Days” by Charlie Jane Anders
Not all adaptations come from novels. "Six Months, Three Days” by Charlie Jane Anders is a police procedural novelette with an interesting, fantastical twist. It's about a man and a woman who can both see the future, but in different ways. Doug sees the future as predetermined, while Judy sees the several branching possibilities for the future. Both of them know their antagonistic relationship is destined to blossom into love, but only if they can both stop Doug from being killed in six months and three days.
NBC has optioned this for an hour-long drama project, with Eric Garcia (author of Matchstick Men, and the novel The Repossession Mambo) set to write it. It's not clear whether this is a one-off production or pilot, but the premise is terrific and really lends itself well to being a weekly series.
"Story of Your Life" by Ted Chiang
Another short story that caught Hollywood's attention: Ted Chiang's Nebula Award–winning novella "Story of Your Life," which can be found in Chiang's excellent collection Stories of Your Life and Others. In the story, aliens land on Earth and a linguist is employed by the U.S. Government to decipher their complex language in order to discover their intentions. In doing so, the linguist develops an ability that brings a unique perspective to her life, particularly regarding her unborn daughter.
FilmNation Entertainment and Lava Bear Films are partnering to finance the film, which is being written by Eric Heisserer (2011′s The Thing; Final Destination 5). The director attached to the project is Nic Mathieu.