A fun perennial activity for readers is comparing a book to its television or theatrical adaptation. Besides getting to see their favorite stories in a whole new way, readers can see and discuss what changed, what stayed the same, what was egregiously omitted and what was incomprehensibly added. It's also an excuse to read books in the first place. To that end, here's the latest roundup of books being turned into television shows and films. All of the following titles have actually been adapted before, oftentimes in numerous incarnations and media. But don't let that stop you from reading up on them again before seeing their newest incarnations. It's more material with which to compare!
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Often cited as the first proper science fiction book, Mary Shelley's examination on the perils of scientific exploration is no less harrowing today then when it was written in 1818, nearly two hundred years ago. Frankenstein: The Modern Prometheus is also one of the most frequently adapted and spun-off science-fiction stories of all time. Numerous films have been produced, as well as a play. Frankenstein's monster has been portrayed actors ranging from Boris Karloff to Robert DeNiro to Benedict Cumberbatch.
Get ready for another adaptation, this one for television. Fox will be producing a modern day adaptation of the modern Prometheus and calling it The Frankenstein Code. The show will focus on the core idea of Shelley's story, namely man playing God by reanimating dead flesh. The focus of the show is its central character, Jimmy Pritchard, a morally corrupt FBI agent who is brought back from the dead and thus given a second chance at life. However, with this new life comes a new sense of purpose: to handle threats that are beyond the normal realm and means of the FBI. The show stars Rob Kazinsky, Dilshad Vadsaria, Adhir Kalyan, Tim DeKay Pritchard, and Ciara Bravo, and will air later this year.
1984 by George Orwell
With the proliferation of camera-carrying drones and news stories about government surveillance, it is perhaps fitting that George Orwell's classic dystopian novel 1984 should see a remake. In Orwell's near future novel—it was written in 1949—the superstate of Oceana is plagued by year-round war, public manipulation, and omnipresent government surveillance. In this society, people can be punished for even thinking about something that is considered to be socially unacceptable.
There have been several adaptations of Orwell's classic before, including an opera. The most recent film adaptation was released in—appropriately enough—the year 1984 and starred John Hurt. Now, 1984 is the basis for another theatrical remake. Sony Pictures is producing a new version of Orwell's cautionary tale, with Paul Greengrass (The Bourne Ultimatum, Captain Phillips) said to be attached as director. The producers include Scott Rudin, who worked with Greengrass on Captain Phillips, as well as Gina Rosenblum, who produced the 1984 version of 1984. It's still in early stages here, but no reason not to use this as an excuse to dust off your copy.
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
While we're on the subject of dystopian classics, did you know that Aldous Huxley's 1932 classic novel Brave New World is also being remade? This novel portrays a future a bit further away. It's set in London in the year 2540 and imagines a future that is drastically changed by technology—a hallmark of science fiction. In this "Utopian" World State, natural reproduction is replaced by advanced reproductive technology techniques, children are taught in their sleep, humans are given mind-altering drugs, and consumerism is encouraged while critical thinking is discouraged. Its weighty ideas and themes like these that ranked the novel fifth among the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century by Modern Library. It's also why it's been adapted before for film and radio...and about to be adapted again.
It's been reported that Steven Spielberg's Amblin Television is producing a brand new adaption of Huxley's thought-provoking story. This one is aimed squarely at television, more specially the SyFy channel. The new television series is being scripted by Les Bohem, who also wrote Taken, which was won the 2003 Emmy for best miniseries.
A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket
I might file this one under “Too Soon.” It was only 2004 when Jim Carrey starred in Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events, the film adaptation of the popular young adult book penned by Daniel Handler, who wrote the book series under the pseudonym “Lemony Snicket.” Ten years later, Netflix acquired rights to produce an original, episodic series based on that best-selling 13-book franchise (which began with Bad Beginnings). The series will be produced in association with Paramount Television, the studio behind the 2004 Jim Carrey film. No expected start date has been announced.
For those who have not seen the film, the dark comedy series follows the exploits of three children after the mysterious death of their parents and the bad fortune that often befalls them, usually at the hands of evil Count Olaf. The Lemony Snicket books have sold more than 65 million copies worldwide. Isn't it time you jumped on board?