For as long as I can remember, summer has always been the season of blockbusters at the box office. What I didn't realize was that (if the 2013 summer season is to be believed) it's also a popular time to announce films that are being adapted from books. It wasn't that long ago when we looked at upcoming science fiction and fantasy film adaptations, followed by even more sf/f adaptations for TV and film, and then still more sf/f adaptations being planned...and now before you can finish your oversized, overpriced bucket of over-buttered popcorn, there's a whole new batch of television and movie projects that have just been announced. Which means it's time for us to catch up on the latest sf/f adaptation news so that you can read the book ahead of time before you see it on the screen.
But we warned! Like last time, these are films that have merely been optioned and announced. It's a long, bumpy road filled with potholes between here and the screen. I recommend looking at these books as worthwhile reads that are satisfying all by themselves, whether or not
Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
Although not really marketed as science fiction, Kurt Vonnegut's beloved satire nonetheless contains elements of the fantastic, easily seen in how the book's protagonist, Billy Pilgrim, experiences several episodes of time displacement in which he travels back and forth across his life span. Oh, there's also the alien Tralfamadorians. The book, which is partly about Billy's World War II experiences, explores themes of fate, free will and the illogical nature of the human race.
If this project sees the light of day, it will be something to behold...not just for the novel's mind-bending story coming to life, but also since it's being written by Charlie Kaufmann (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) and directed by Guillermo del Toro (Pacific Rim, Pan’s Labyrinth). We can only imagine how those visionaries will interpret the imagination of Vonnegut.
The Kingkiller Chronicles by Patrick Rothfuss
The Kingkiller Chronicles is a trilogy of books written by Patrick Rothfuss comprised of The Name of the Wind, The Wise Man’s Fear and a forthcoming conclusion to the trilogy (tentatively titled The Doors of Stone). This wondrous fantasy is the story of Kvothe, who tells the story of his life to Devan Lochees (known as Chronicler). The books themselves are largely comprised of flashbacks of Kvothe’s life told over three days (one book for each day of the narration). The narrative occasionally switches to the present day, where faerie folk (known as demons to the locals) are showing up more frequently than usual.
The Kingkiller Chronicles was recently optioned for television adaptation by New Regency Productions and 20th Century Fox Television. It's still too early to know much more than that, but if the popularity of the books is any indication, this one will be a hit with viewers.
CyberStorm by Matthew Mather
Matthew Mather's self-published book CyberStorm just recently came on like gangbusters earlier this year, with sales coming close to those of A Game of Thrones and World War Z. Hollywood took notice and then scooped up the film rights. Besides being an author, Mather is a cybersecurity expert, and Cyberstorm leverages his experience to create a thrilling, near-future New York disaster story that uses the idea of online information and security in its depiction of a man trying to save his family from the surrounding collapse.
It was 20th Century Fox that acquired the film rights to CyberStorm—not a bad deal for a previously unknown author whose books had only been on the market for a few months. What bodes well for this project is that a story set against a technical backdrop was written by someone familiar with technology. Hopefully,
Westlake Soul by
Westlake Soul is the name of a 23-year-old former surfing champion who suffers a catastrophic accident. Although he wakes up in a permanent vegetative state, he discovers that he can nonetheless read minds, mentally communicate with animals and project his consciousness anywhere in the world. In this neo-superhero novel by Rio Youers, Westlake discovers that great power comes with great responsibility—namely to use his newfound powers to go up against an equally new archenemy: Dr. Quietus, the nightmarish embodiment of Death itself.
Westlake Soul was optioned for television and film by Stephen Susco, screenwriter for the horror film The Grudge. It's too early to tell how this one will play out, but hopefully the film will play up the book's non-superhuman element.
Nexus by Ramez Naam
In this near-future thriller, a new high-tech drug called Nexus allows people to link up, mind to mind. The applications are huge, but like any new game-changing tech, there are those that are for it and those that are against it...and those that seek to control it at any cost. In Nexus, a young scientist with only the best intentions for mankind gets caught up in the dangerous world of international espionage.
Nexus was optioned for both television and film by Paramount Pictures, to be adapted by Ari Handel (co-writer of Darren Aronofsky’s upcoming Biblical epic Noah) and Mark Heyman (whose credits include Black Swan).
The Postmortal by Drew Magary
Magary's "pre-apocalyptic" near-future envisions a world where effective immortality has been achieved after a cure for aging is found. The trouble with this seemingly good news is that it comes with strings attached, namely: government-instituted euthanasia programs, evil green people, and never-ending moral and political debates. It's a fertile topic for some thought-provoking ideas, and the book is not afraid to address them as it evolves from fable to morality tale.
Very little is known about the adaptation of The Postmortal beyond the author's letting-the-cat-out-of-the-bag tweet on Twitter. But don't let that stop you from enjoying the book's meaty ideas.