Last week we looked at novels associated to two of the most well-known media properties, Star Trek and Star Wars. But those are not the only media properties that have found success in Media Tie-in Land. Let's take a look at a couple more popular media tie-in universes that serve up some fantastic stories worth reading.
It makes sense that the world's longest-running SciFi TV show would migrate its way onto the printed page. Yes, it's that lovable, time-traveling Time Lord known simply as the Doctor. Doctor Who novels haven't been around as long as the TV show.
The first Doctor Who novels were part of a mid-1980s series called The Companions of Doctor Who which focused on the Doctor's companions. The publishing history of these novels jumped among various publishers, perhaps the most famous being Target, who published 156 short Doctor Who books, many of which were written by the series' most prolific author, Terrence Dicks. Doctor Who novels tend to, but not always, feature the latest incarnation of the Doctor. (For those unfamiliar with the show, the alien Doctor regenerates his physical form when an actor's contract cannot be renegotiated.)
The BBC itself is overseeing the current publications of Doctor Who novels and, like all good media tie-in books should, expand the excellent world building done in the originating media. Like other media tie-in properties, Doctor Who has attracted the writing talents of some top-notch writers. Recent Doctor Who books have been written by science-fiction grandmaster Michael Moorcock (The Coming of the Terraphiles) and Dan Abnett (The Silent Stars Go By), and lauded science-fiction author Alastair Reynolds is currently hard at work on his Doctor Who novel called Harvest of Time.
As proof that popular media tie-ins don't originate solely from television and film, consider Warhammer 40K, a series of novels based on a tabletop war game played with miniatures. The "40K", short for 40,000, is a reference to the futuristic 41st millennium in which the story takes place.
Like Warhammer, its fantasy counterpart, Warhammer 40K is a rich universe that is excellent fodder for stories that thrill and excite. It's set in a Dystopian future and is, on its simplest level, a galactic-scale battle between good (the Imperium of Man, which includes human and benevolent aliens) and evil (everyone else). But that simple description undercuts the multifaceted and complex nature of this universe, its colorful characters and cool technology. Is it unapologetic, high-concept science fiction? Sure, but you'll find some futuristic concepts in these stories, but you'll also find classic fiction staples like betrayal, intrigue and—most of all—riveting, nonstop action.
There's no bad place to start reading Warhammer 40K. There are many stories each with their own flavor and texture and the authors do a great job at filling readers in on any background information they need to enjoy the story. That said, Dan Abnett's Gaunt's Ghost, Ravenor and Eisenhorn omnibuses are often cited as good starting points, as well as Abnett's contributions to the Horus Heresy series; as are Nick Kyme's Tome of Fire trilogy, Sandy Mitchell's Cain series, Graham McNeill's Storm of Iron, Jim Swallow's Faith and Fire, Aaron Dembski-Bowden's Helsreach, Anthony Reynolds' Dark Creed, or Henry Zou's Flesh and Iron. The folks who publish Warhammer 40K, Black Library, also produce some outstanding audiobooks if that's more your thing. There's little reason to let this universe slip past you.
Let Your Heart Be Your Guide
These are just a couple examples of science-fiction related media tie-in properties. You can find plenty more in your friendly neighborhood bookstore, including books based on film (Transformers, Terminator), television (Supernatural, Stargate, Eureka, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Primeval, X-Files) and video games (Halo, World of Warcraft, Gears of War, Assassin's Creed). Do you like one of these properties? Then why not soak up some more entertainment and dive into the world of media–tie-ins?
John DeNardo is the editor of SF Signal, a group science-fiction and fantasy blog featuring news, reviews and interviews.