21 Great Sci-Fi Books Being Made Into Movies and TV Shows
It's a great time to be a sci-fi fan right now. With movie studios buying big on sci-fi properties and the SyFy channel's commitment to return to serious sci-fi programming, our eyes are hopefully going to be treated to a veritable feast of top-notch science fiction programming in the coming years. (There are also some fantastic new print sci-fi properties emerging, such as Ann Leckie's all-conquering Ancillary Justice series.) More and more, the world of sci-fi entertainment is dipping into the seemingly endless pool of print sci-fi for inspiration. Over the next few years, everything from established classics to relative newcomers to the print sci-fi scene are going to be the subject of on-screen adaptations. Here are some of the best sci-fi books being made into movies and TV shows in the near future.
Planned TV Adaptations
Foundation - Isaac Asimov
Let's start with the most exciting news shall we? Earlier this month, 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 was brought to life, it wouldn't meet their lofty expectations. But this is Jonathan Nolan, a man who helped make Interstellar a reality, working for the people who gave us an equally tricky adaptation in the shape of Game of Thrones, and I, like many others, feel that this is a match made in heaven. 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. We can now look forward to months of debate such as "Who should play the Mule?" and "How do you bring Trantor and Terminus to life?" Bring it on.
The Expanse - 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. It was one of those rare space-based science fiction novels able to tell a story that spanned the solar system and feel believable while doing so. Winning the 2012 Hugo and Locus Awards, Leviathan wakes developed a big following among genre fans, and while the subsequent books in The Expanse series never quite surpassed Book 1's achievements, this is still a must-read series, and when SyFy announced they were bringing it 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.
The Expanse debuts on SyFy in 2015 and will star, among others, Thomas Jane, Dominique Tipper and Steven Strait.
Childhood's End - Arthur C. Clarke
One of the greatest science fiction works to be written by one of the greatest science fiction writers of all time, Arthur C. Clarke's Childhood's End has been the subject of a number adaptation attempts, but even the likes of Stanley Kubrick, who adapted Clarke's 2001: A Space Odyssey, couldn't get his project off the ground. After a few ups and downs, though, SyFy's 6-hour miniseries is going ahead, and it's just signed its leading men in the form of British up-and-comer, Osy Ikhile, who will play a character known as Milo, and Ashley Zuckerman, who will play Jake Greggson (known as George Greggson in the book). Childhood's End charts the events following an alien invasion which has transformed Earth into a near-utopian world. But, despite all the good the aliens have done, much of humanity harbors a deep mistrust towards their new overlords. If you liked the BBC radio production of Childhood's End, seeing it come to life on screen is going to be immensely exciting. Childhood's End airs on SyFy sometime in 2015.
11-22-63 - Stephen King
Stephen King's 2012 Locus Award Winning novel, 11-22-63, is getting the Bad Robot treatment. Following Jake Epping, a man who discovers a portal that allows him to travel back in time to 1958, 11-22-63 explores what might have happened had someone been able to prevent the Kennedy assassination. This being Stephen King, it doesn't take a genius to guess that, in saving Kennedy, Epping totally effs up modern day Earth. The story behind this book is based off of an idea King had been harboring for years, and it's certainly an interesting one. Online content platform, Hulu, has picked up the show, placing an initial order for 9 episodes, but with the potential themes available to explore beyond the source material, this show could run for a number of seasons.
3001: The Final Odyssey - Arthur C. Clarke
In November 2014 it was announced that SyFy would once more dip into the treasure trove that is Arthur C. Clarke works, with an adaptation of Clarke's 3001: The Final Odyssey. Ridley Scott is executive producing and SyFy maintains that both Kubrick and Clarke's estates are 100% on board with the project. 3001: The Final Odyssey is the fourth and final entry into Clarke's Space Odyssey series, the opening chapter of which was 2001: A Space Odyssey. 3001 sees Frank Poole revived 1000 years after his death at the hands of HAL-9000, but when he makes his way back to Earth, Poole discovers a world of space elevators, dinosaurs in servitude, and bizarre brain-computer hook-ups. Written by Stuart Beattie (Pirates of the Caribbean, Halo), SyFy's 3001: The Final Odyssey miniseries is set to air sometime in 2015.
Gateway - Frederik Pohl
One of sci-fi's ultimate cult classics, Frederik Pohl's Gateway was the subject of a fierce bidding war earlier this year as a number of TV execs, recognizing the book's appeal, sought to secure the rights to finally bring this dark space opera to life. Interestingly, the winning bid came in the form of a joint venture from E.One TV and DeLaurentiis Co., the latter of which was responsible for the 1984 big-screen adaptation of Frank Herbert's Dune. That the competition for the adaptation rights was so fierce is testament to how great this book is. In Pohl's story, the titular Gateway is a space station holding thousands of spacecraft left behind by a powerful, but seemingly extinct race of aliens known as the Heechee. In an effort to understand the alien tech, a number of brave human souls embark on dangerous voyages in the powerful spacecraft, most of which result in deaths or, at best, disappearances.
Redshirts - John Scalzi
John Scalzi's shrewdly comical commentary on the Redshirt phenomenon has found a suitable home in the form of TV network, FX, who always seem to do this kind of comedy just right. Following Ensign Andrew Dahl on his adventures with the crew of the Universal Union's flaghsip, Intrepid, Redshirts is packed with laugh out loud moments as Dahl starts to discover a series of bizarre trends during his various away missions...trends that you may recall from your time watching Star Trek as a kid. For example, no matter how close they come to death, the ship's officers always manage to pull through, while the Redshirted ensigns seem to act as alien fodder at just about every possible opportunity. FX's limited series should come to air sometime in either late 2015 or early 2016.
Ancillary Justice - Ann Leckie
Ann Leckie's sprawling space opera, Ancillary Justice, burst onto the sci-fi scene earlier this year and for months it felt like this was the only book anybody could talk about. A story that spans more than a thousand years and features some mind-boggling concepts, Ancillary Justice would be a mighty tall proposition for an adaptation, and the author herself admits it, saying this on her official site: "The fact remains that even with all the best intentions in the world, there's a lot of leeway to really misstep badly in trying to bring AJ to any kind of visual medium." At present, there isn't an actual adaptation in the works, the rights have simply been optioned to Fox, but when they'll do something with them, we don't know. Leckie's debut book is actually part of a trilogy and Ancillary Sword, the second in the series, is out now, so you can pick up on the adventures of Breq and her mission of revenge right now!
The Man in High Castle - Philip K. Dick
After Philip K. Dick's Hugo Award-Winning novel was the subject of 2 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, this Summer, Amazon followed in the footsteps of SyFy and BBC in attempting to adapt the novel which was first published in 1962. Set in a world in which the Nazi's won World War 2, The Man in High Castle sees the US occupied by Imperial Japan on the West Coast and Nazi Germany on the West. But when Hitler's grip on the region starts to weaken, the victorious forces of the Second World War start to clash. This is a book that has Nazis attempting to colonize Mars and drain the Mediterranean as well as some great alternate Cold War themes, so to put it simply...don't mess this up Amazon!
Old Man's War - John Scalzi
The Colonial Defense Force is coming to TV in yet another example of SyFy taking inspiration from classic print sci-fi works. It was confirmed this summer that SyFy was working with Scott Stuber (Ted, Battleship) and Oscar-nominated director, Wolfgang Peterson (Troy, The Perfect Storm) to bring Scalzi's series, which sees human soldiers uploading their consciousness into genetically modified bodies in order to help humanity compete with alien lifeforms for the few remaining planets suitable for hosting life. Stuber and Peterson had initially optioned the rights to turn Old Man's War into a movie, but after a few years their option ran out, and they swiftly partnered up with a revived SyFy to start work with Scalzi on a new TV show, which will be named after the second book in the series, Ghost Brigades. In total, the Old Man's War series contains 6 books and 2 short stories, so if this series hits it off, it's going to have plenty of material to work with.
Planned Movie Adaptations
The Martian - Andy Weir
Andy Weir's 'The Martian' was one of the most enjoyable sci-fi reads in a good long time, and Ridley Scott's adaptation of it is one of the most exciting sci-fi projects on our radar. Scott has assembled an incredible cast for the 2015 project, including Jessica Chastain, Matt Damon, Michael Peña, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Sean Bean, Kristen Wiig and Jeff Daniels (rumored). Damon, who reunites with fellow Interstellar star Chastain, will play the movie's lead role of NASA astronaut Mark Watney. When Watney gets separated from his crew mates during a mission on Mars, the astronaut embarks on a mission of survival that makes Tom Hanks's Castaway look like a trip to Rockaway Beach.
Release date: 2015
Yukikaze - Chohei Kambayashi
Chohei Kobayashi's 'Yukikaze' is a thrilling alien invasion novel with space warfare and bundles of future tech. Considering these themes, it's not surprising that Yukikaze has already been adapted into a highly popular anime series that has garnered a passionate following. Kobayashi's story sees a secret United Nations battle force constructed in an attempt to push back alien invaders known as the JAM. When the humans succeed in pushing the invaders back through the portal, they opt to take the fight into space, establishing bases on the planet 'Fairy.' From these forward command posts, a state-of-the-art ship named Yukikaze leads the fight to eliminate the JAM threat to Earth. So wild and complex is Kobayashi's tale, it is not entirely clear which way writer Dan Mazeau (Wrath of the Titans) will take the adaptation, but Warner Bros. have started strong by recruiting Tom Cruise to play the lead role...although that may be a matter of opinion.
Release Date: Not set
1984 - George Orwell
Already the subject of two major movie adaptations, George Orwell's everlasting dystopia is once more coming to the big screen, courtesy of a new project by Sony Pictures. News broke last month that Sony had secured the services of Bourne director Paul Greengrass for the movie which as yet does not have a target release date. Greengrass will once again team up with Captain Phillips producer, Scott Rudin. Despite being written in 1949, Orwell's tale of government powers and invasion of privacy has always managed to feel relevant as a commentary on modern day society, but in light of events that have occurred in recent years, it seems that now more than ever, a big screen adaptation of 1984 will hit uncomfortably close to home for a large percentage of the world's population.
Release date: Not set
The Stand - Stephen King
The upcoming adaptation of Stephen King's sprawling post-apocalyptic epic, The Stand, has certainly been one of the most talked-about projects on the market in recent months. After numerous attempts to bring King's book to life, Warner Bros. finally looked to have cracked it, hiring The Fault in Our Stars director Josh Boone to work on the screenplay. Boone soon realized that the scope of King's novel was so vast that he opted to split the adaptation into 2 feature length movies. However, this format didn't last long either, and it has now been confirmed that four movies will be dedicated to depicting this story of a post-apocalyptic battle between good and evil. Boone had previously stated he wanted to fill his adaptation with big name stars, and just last month he appeared to make good on his promise by hiring Matthew McConaughey to play The Stand's demonic antagonist, Randall Flagg. This is definitely one to get excited about.
Release date: Not set
The 5th Wave - Rick Yancey
I know what you're thinking. "Not another YA sci-fi adaptation?!", but honestly, Rick Yancey's alien invasion novel is far more exciting than any of the other YA products on the market right now. Set in the wake of a series of devastating alien invasions, The 5th Wave follows Cassie, a teenage girl who, like most of Earth's remaining population, has lost everything. As the world succumbs to the silent '5th Wave' and millions die around her, Cassie embarks on a journey through an unforgiving land in an effort to locate her brother Sammy. Sony Pictures secured the rights to Yancey's 2013 novel and have already installed Chloë Grace Moretz as the lead, with J Blakeson directing.
Release date: January 2016
Wool - Hugh Howey
Hugh Howey's 'Wool' was initially created as a series of novellas, but has since been rolled into one epically depressing tale. Set on a post-apocalyptic Earth in which humans are reduced to living in underground 'Silos,' Wool is a suspense-filled tale portraying a complex society built out of tragic circumstances. 20th Century Fox and Ridley Scott picked up the rights a while ago, and The Fifth Wave director J Blakeson is thought to be writing and directing, but news on the movie has been worryingly sparse in recent months. Howey isn't getting his hopes up, either. In an interview with HuffPost earlier this year, the author said "There are so many places where this can break down, that I just tell myself to be thrilled that it got this far." Hopefully it does go all the way, because this is a story that would lend itself perfectly to the big screen.
Release date: Not set
Ready Player One - Ernest Cline
Ernest Cline's excellent tale of virtual reality treasure hunting in the near future has become a hot favorite of the sci-fi rumor mill lately. Every director from Christopher Nolan to Edgar Wright to Peter Jackson has been linked with Warner Bros.' planned adaptation, which thanks to it's many, many references to classic video game properties, is widely thought of as one of the trickiest adaptations on the market. Cline's debut novel has a huge following thanks to its ability to capture the nostalgia towards classic video games currently being felt by the current 30-something gamer market. Everybody seems to have some input on the matter of who should direct Ready Player One, and finding someone capable of recreating the book's virtual reality world, the OASIS, is going to be key to this adaptation's success.
Release date: Not Set
Atlantis / Origin Mystery Trilogy - A.G. Riddle
Earlier this year, the rights to adapt A.G Riddle's series of sci-fi conspiracy thrillers was picked up by CBS films in something of a Cinderella story. Riddle quit his job in the tech industry to focus on writing the novels, which he went on to self-publish last year. Riddle's Origin Mystery trilogy centers on a Geneticist and an International Terrorism Agent who team up in an effort to prevent a global pandemic event and unlock the mystery of an ancient alien conspiracy.
Release date: Not set
The Forever War - Joe Haldeman
Yet another sci-fi classic that Ridley Scott managed to get his hands on, Joe Haldeman's 1974 novel, 'The Forever War,' is widely regarded as one of the greatest stories of its time. The Forever War sees a soldier sent through time into the midst of a brutal war between humans and a savage alien species known as The Taurans. As battle rages, for every hour the soldier is alive, Earth is changing rapidly. It's an epic tale with some incredible themes, but unfortunately the adaptation's production hell has been equal to its source material's scope. Since 2008, when Scott purchased the rights to what he describes as "one of the last great science-fiction books," the movie adaptation has undergone no fewer than 7 script drafts. Scott remains confident this movie will one day come to fruition, but with all of the projects it seems unlikely that that day will be any time soon.
Release date: Not set
Rant - Chuck Palahniuk
In September 2014, it was announced that James Franco had answered the prayers of Chuck Palahniuk fans everywhere by optioning the rights to the authors wildly bizarre novel, Rant. If you've read it, you know that the dizzying world built within the pages of Rant will not be easily translated to the big screen, but you can't help but feel that a man like James Franco, with his many talents, has a decent shot at pulling it off. When it comes to narrative, Rant has just about everything going with hints of superheroes, zombies, dystopia all present. But really, it's just totally crazy and very, very funny.
Release date: Not set
The Destroyer - Warren Murphy & Richard Sapir
Created by Warren Murphy and Richard Sapir, The Destroyer series of novels has now produced well over 100 books, a feat that simply is not achievable without a rabid following. The series follows Remo Williams, a wrongly accused police officer who is resuscitated after a botched execution. The government fakes his death and trains him to be an assassin for a black ops organization called CURE, supposedly founded by President Kennedy. Throughout its many entries, The Destroyer deals with everything from mad scientists to bizarre historical figures and cyborgs, but it's Remo Williams and his commitment to not using weapons that have kept people coming back. Iron Man 3 director and longtime Remo Williams fan has been signed to direct the adaptation, with recent Destroyer authors Jim Uhls and James Mullaney working on the screenplay.
Release date: Not set