25 Science Fiction Books Being Adapted into TV Shows

Sunday, 22 November 2015 - 11:27AM
Sci-Fi Books
Sunday, 22 November 2015 - 11:27AM

Comic book adaptations might be all the rage right now, but TV execs are rapidly seeking inspiration from the world of science fiction writing for their next shows. With studios gobbling up adaptation rights to everything from Asimov's classics to as-yet-unreleased stories, our TV screens are soon going to be littered with some of the greatest stories this genre has ever told. 

Foundation - Isaac Asimov

Let's start with the big one, shall we? Last year, it was confirmed that Jonathan Nolan was adapting Asimov's Foundation trilogy for HBO. Foundation is undoubtedly one of the greatest works this genre has ever seen, and for years fans have wrestled with wanting to see it adapted and fearing that if it were brought to life, it wouldn't meet their lofty expectations. But with Jonathan Nolan teaming up with the network who took on Game of Thrones, this just feels like the perfect storm. Bringing the Seldon Plan and all the characters that fit within it is going to be a huge challenge, but if anyone can do it, it has to be HBO. All that's left for us to do is to start debating who we'd like to see play The Mule.
Release Date: Unknown

The Man in High Castle - Philip K. Dick

After Philip K. Dick's Hugo Award-winning novel was the subject of two failed adaptation attempts in the space of just 4 years, many lovers of the book must have thought they would never see this tale of alternate history brought to life. But last summer, Amazon followed in the footsteps of Syfy and BBC in attempting to adapt the novel which was first published in 1962. Amazon's The Man in High Castle received a solid reception when footage was screened at San Diego Comic Con this year, but whether or not the show will get the exposure it deserves remains to be seen.
Release Date: November 2015

Leviathan Wakes - James S.A Corey

When Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck collaborated under the name James S. A. Corey to bring us Leviathan Wakes in 2011, it felt like a breath of fresh air. Leviathan Wakes was a rare breed of space opera that managed to capture the wonder of space travel while remaining believable. After winning the 2012 Hugo and Locus Awards, it was no surprise that when SyFy announced they were bringing Leviathan Wakes to TV, there were muted nods of approval from the majority of sci-fi fans. This is a series that has a great deal of potential and if they get the adaptation right, it should represent the first stepping stone to getting the network back on good footing with the masses.
Release Date: December 14th

Childhood's End - Arthur C. Clarke

Premiering on the same day as The Expanse is another Syfy dip into the world of classic science fiction: an adaptation of Arthur C. Clarke's Childhood's End. Clarke's legendary tale of seemingly benevolent alien invaders has been turned into a miniseries starring Charles Dance (Game of Thrones) as the Overlord ambassador, Karellen, and Mike Vogel as Ricky Stormgren. While the scope of Childhood's End isn't quite as far-reaching as something like Foundation or The Expanse, there is a ton of subtle undertones and commentary that the adaptation can bring to life. The condensed mini-series format should make this a compelling prospect to watch. 
Release Date: December 14th

11-22-63 - Stephen King

Stephen King's 2012 Locus Award-winning novel 11-22-63 is getting the Bad Robot treatment. King himself has been active in the production of the TV show, which will follow Jake Epping, a man who discovers a portal that allows him to travel back in time to 1958 to stop the Kennedy assassination. The show has some serious quality in front of the camera too, with James Franco playing Epping and Josh Duhamel taking up the role of Frank Dunning. Airing on Hulu in 2016, 11-22-63 will run in a 9-episode miniseries format.
Release date: February 15th 2016

Alien Hunters - Whitley Strieber

Whitley Strieber is well known for 'Communion': a personal account of his experience with a non-human entity while out in a cabin in Upstate New York in the 1980's. And while that was adapted into a feature film starring Christopher Walken, it's one of Strieber's works of fiction we're talking about in this list. Released next year, 'Hunters,' which hails from The Walking Dead's Gale Anne Hurd, is Syfy's take on Strieber's Alien Hunter series, which follows an FBI agent who joins a secret exo-terrorism unit charged with tracking down a species of aliens who live among us.
Release Date: April 2016

Old Man's War - John Scalzi

The Colonial Defense Force is coming to TV!  It was confirmed last summer that Syfy was working with Scott Stuber (Ted, Battleship) and Oscar-nominated director, Wolfgang Peterson (Troy, The Perfect Storm) to bring Scalzi's mind-boggling series to life. The Old Man's War series contains no fewer than 6 novels and 2 short stories, with Scalzi recently signing a huge book deal that included at least one new entry into the series. The show will be titled 'Ghost Brigades', after the title of Scalzi's second Old Man's War novel. Scalzi said the second novel's title had been chosen "because it sounds sexier" and revealed that the show will span much of the existing series.
Release Date: Unknown

Gateway - Frederik Pohl

Another beloved piece of science fiction and yet another Syfy adaptation. Frederik Pohl's Gateway, the first installment in Pohl's Heechee saga is being adapted by Battlestar Galactica producer David Eick, which should give many folks a bit of reassurance. In a recent announcement, SyFy described the adaptation as a "fascinating first contact story" that was "thought-provoking and unsettling, raising profound questions about mankind's possible relationship with alien life." They certainly seem to have hit the nail on the head there, so let's hope it carries through into the actual production.
Release Date: Unknown

3001: The Final Odyssey - Arthur C. Clarke

Another Arthur C. Clarke classic snapped up by Syfy, 3001: The Final Odyssey may seem like a strange choice for TV adaptation, especially given how revered Kubrick's big screen take on its predecessor is. But then you learn that Ridley Scott is involved and you instantly become more at peace with the move. Scott will executive produce along with David W. Zucker (The Good Wife) with Pirates of the Caribbean's Stuart Beattie taking on the challenge of penning the script. 3001: The Final Odyssey, which sees Frank Poole revived 1000 years after his death at the hands of HAL, will come in the form of a mini-series.
Release Date: 2017

The Thousandth Floor - Katharine McGee

Greg Berlanti continues his quest for total domination of our TV screens with his latest project, an adaptation of Katharine McGee's YA sci-fi novel, The Thousandth Floor. If you're wondering why you haven't heard of the book before, it's probably because the it isn't even out until 2017. Set in the year 2118, McGee's novel explores a society in a thousand-floor skyscraper on New York's Upper East Side in which the wealthy live high up and the poor live closer to the ground. When a young woman dies after falling from the 1000th floor, a scandal embroils the building and threatens the society's delicate imbalance. Berlanti has clearly seen enough in the story's premise to warrant snapping up the rights to adapt it, but don't expect the show to beat McGee's novel to release.
Release Date: TBC

Red Shirts - John Scalzi

This is an adaptation we're very excited about. Redshirts is Scalzi's hilarious riff on the famous Star Trek trend that saw those in red uniforms die in an often ridiculous manner. The adaptation has found an appropriate home over at FX, a channel that has garnered a reputation for delivering great comedy. This was announced quite some time ago now, but it's thought that the adaptation is still in the very early stages, so it could happen, but may not happen for a while. 
Release Date: TBC

Luna: New Moon - Ian McDonald

Ian McDonald's latest book, Luna: New Moon, was such a hot property that the rights to adapt it into a TV show were snapped up before it even hit the shelves. Luna is the first in a new series of sci-fi novels from McDonald, an author who has been nominated for a Hugo award on a number of occasions. NCIS showrunner Shane Brennan will adapt the book, which is set in 2110, a time in which the moon has been turned into a near-feudal colony by 5 huge mining corporations. CBS Productions is taking on the adaptation, but there've been no updates on the project since it was announced earlier this year.
Release Date: TBC

Ancillary Justice - Ann Leckie

Set many thousands of years in the future, Leckie's impressively sprawling tale of A.I.-controlled human soldiers and sentient ships might not seem like it lends itself well to an adaptation, but that hasn't stopped Fox TV and Fabrik from snapping up the rights to the award-winning series. Indeed, this will be an incredibly tricky feat to pull off, but if it is done well, the results could be spectacular. Over a year has passed since the rights were first optioned, but there has been no news on the production. Then again, adapting thousands of years of fiction like this can, understandably, take a little time.
Release Date: TBC

Brave New World - Aldous Huxley

You may remember reading Huxley's dystopian masterpiece at school, but if you haven't done so already, we'd strongly urge you to give it another read. While some of the themes still feel far-fetched (I don't want to be born in a hatchery, thanks), Brave New World feels eerily relevant to today's society. Perhaps that's why Steven Spielberg's Amblin Entertainment optioned the rights to bring the book to TV. While we don't know when it will air, we can tell you it will be shown on, you guessed it, Syfy. Our only request is that they do everything they can to get Benedict Cumberbatch to play the role of Bernard, because that would be just perfect.
Release Date: TBC

Hyperion - Dan Simmons

Bradley Cooper had been trying to get an adaptation of Dan Simmons' epic work greenlit for four years before he was successful. We're not sure why it was such a slog; The Hyperion Cantos has collected numerous awards and is held in high esteem by fans of the genre, so attracting interest should not be an issue. Cooper is now working with SyFy to adapt Simmons' work into a major event series. It's not the expansive long-form episode run we were hoping for, but clearly Cooper has a passion for the project, which is reassurance enough for us.
Release Date: TBC

The City & The City - China Mieville

China Miéville is best known for his work in fantasy, but 'The City & The City' is hard to pin down to one particular genre. Blending aspects from the fantasy, sci-fi and crime genres, The City & The City has been described by some readers as a borderline transformative event. Imagine then, what it would be like when the writer behind the adaptation of 'Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas' signs up to bring Miéville's work to TV for BBC. The BBC's Controller, Polly Hill had this to say of the adaptation: "The City and The City is an extraordinarily original novel which through Tony Grissoni's wonderful adaptation, promises to be a truly distinct, surprising and compelling drama for BBC Two."
Release Date: TBC

Dawn - Octavia E. Butler

Would humans mate with an alien race if it meant ensuring the survival of our species? That's a question that is explored in great detail throughout Octavia E. Butler's 1987 novel, Dawn. Allen Bain has achieved the impossible in getting the rights to the Lilith's Brood series, and the producer has said that he views it as one of the greatest works of science fiction ever made. Bain has said he wants the adaptation to reflect its source material's diversity, which, given the way the world is going right now, is pretty darned great to hear.
Release Date: TBC

Time After Time - Karl Alexander

Jack the Ripper uses H.G Wells's time machine to escape conviction in Victorian London. Wells tracks the Ripper down in 1970's San Francisco in an attempt to bring the murderous villain to justice. With a wacky plot like that, it's not surprising that Karl Alexander's 1979 novel got a mixed reception, but ABC have seen enough potential to snap up the TV adaptation rights, recruiting Dawson's Creek and Vampire Diaries creator Kevin Williamson to head up the project. As a sidenote, Time After Time was also the subject of a musical theater adaptation just a few years ago.
Release Date: TBC

Lock In - John Scalzi

Did we mention that we're huge John Scalzi fans? Seriously, this is a great time to be a John Scalzi fan. Lock In, one of the author's more recent works about a virus that paralyzes 1% of the population, has been optioned by Legendary TV. Unfortunately, this is about as far as things have gone, so don't expect anything to happen too soon. Just make sure that when it does land, it's firmly at the top of your viewing list, because this has some serious promise.
Release Date: TBC

Spin - Robert Charles Wilson

Another Hugo Award winning novel snapped up by SyFy. Wilson's Spin tells the story of 3 childhood friends who witness an energy barrier surround Earth, cutting the planet off from the the rest of the solar system. Outside of the barrier, time is travelling a billion times faster than it is on Earth, and with the ageing Sun about to die, the friends all make separate attempts to save humanity. Spin is as compelling as its premise sounds and SyFy have committed to adapting the story into a special six-part miniseries. Expect this to come out in their next round of productions either late 2016 or early 2017.
Release Date: TBC

MaddAddam - Margaret Atwood

The conclusion of a trilogy of books released over a 10-year period, MaddAddam explores a near-future world in which Earth has been devastated by a Waterless Flood. The planet's population has been almost completely wiped out by the flood and governments have been replaced by corporations. Darren Aronofsky (Requiem for a Dream, Black Swan) is heading up the adaptation for HBO. Expect lots of flashbacks to the events and people that caused this devastation. This is about as dystopian as things get.
Release Date: TBC

Red Mars - Kim Stanley Robinson

The first of Robinson's 'Mars Trilogy', Red Mars follows the pioneers of a mission to bring about the human colonization of Mars. J. Michael Straczynski, the man responsible for creating Babylon 5 and scripting World War Z and Thor, was signed by Spike TV to write the adaptation of this enthralling hard sci-fi story at the start of 2015. While this is being labelled as a 'Red Mars' adaptation, it's likely that any form of success for the initial episodes of the show will see the adaptation stretch to Robinson's entire 'Mars' trilogy, which sees humanity successfully terraform Mars into a lush, water-laden planet. It's just a shame that science has recently proven that terraforming Mars is going to be far harder than we thought.
Release Date: TBC

The Dark Tower - Stephen King

Stephen King's genre-bending 'The Dark Tower' series is getting an adaptation worthy of its epic standing. Blending everything themes from fantasy, sci-fi, Westerns, and more, The Dark Tower series comprises 8 novels and over 4,000 pages of what Stephen King regards as some of his greatest ever work. The Dark Tower series is the subject of a major movie adaptation from Sony Pictures, but it's on this list because Media Rights Capital are in the process of creating a complementary TV series that will slide in right along Sony's multi-movie slate.The TV script will focus primarily on The Gunslinger story, which started the whole series, but that's not to say it won't explore more of this expansive world. 
Release Date: TBC

Zero K

Don DeLillo's new death-defying novel, which follows a billionaire trying to preserve his young wife's body for resurrection, has been optioned for a television show by FX. Details are scarce, but if it's anything like the novel it should be a must-see, considering that it was was described by Michiko Kakutani's glowing New York Times review as echoing 2001: A Space Odyssey, but with a "considerably darker vision."

Strange New Things

Based on the novel, The Book of Strange New Things by Michael Faber, who also penned the source material for 2014's Under the Skin, this Amazon series will follow a pastor who goes on an intergalactic missionary trip that takes him lightyears away from his beloved wife, during which he introduces extraterrestrials to the Bible, which is their "book of strange new things." It's a fascinating premise, and between Amazon's recent track record and 11/22/63's Kevin MacDonald directing, this should be a great ride.

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