SFF screen adaptations that need to happen immediately
…and a few that are already on their way.
Like many avid readers, I’ve always been wary of screen adaptations, particularly when it comes to books I loved. I still haven’t got over the treatment meted out to Susan Cooper’s The Dark Is Rising, adapted for the big screen as The Seeker and rendered almost unrecognizable in the process. When a production team get it right, however, taking a great book, a charismatic cast, spectacular cinematography and a memorable soundtrack, the end result can be something very special indeed.
One of my favourite childhood films, The Last Unicorn, was an adaptation, and more recently I was impressed by the edgy screen serialisation of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale.
Here are some of the works of speculative fiction that I’d like to see on screen in the future.
Terry Pratchett’s Night Watch books
This one is actually happening! There have been rumours about it for several years, but it has now been confirmed that BBC Studios will be bringing Vimes, Carrot, Vetinari and company to the small screen in a six part series, provisionally entitled The Watch. There is a suggestion that this might be a returning series, which gives me hope of one day seeing my favourite Pratchett book, Night Watch, adapted for television.
Good Omens – Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
This one is happening too! Filming is underway, with David Tennant and Michael Sheen in the lead roles, but fans of the book will have to wait till 2019 for the onscreen debut of the Them, and, of course, the Four Other Riders of the Apocalypse.
Julian May’s Galactic Milieu series
This classic SF series, consisting of Intervention, Jack The Bodiless, Diamond Mask and Magnificat, would be tricky to film, given its focus on the powers of the mind, but I’d like to see someone give it a go.
Emily St John Mandel’s best-selling novel follows a travelling theatre troupe through a post-apocalyptic landscape. It looks like this will be hitting the cinema screens at some point, after producer Scott Steindorff acquired the film rights.
The Night Circus
Erin Morgenstern’s magical tale has also been optioned, but there is currently no information as to whether it will actually make it to the screen. I think I’d like to see this one as a TV series, rather than a film. It feels like a story that needs a little space, and not to suffer from the tight time constraints of a big screen production.
Never Ending Story
Yes, I know. It’s been done. And rather good it was too. But those who have read the book will know that the 1984 film only covered the first part of Michael Ende’s exploration the world of human imagination. There was a sequel, but the less said about that, the better. This is another book that I’d like to see as a TV series, with Bastian’s journey fully realised, along with all of those enticing little glimpses of ‘stories that shall be told another time.’
Katherine Kerr’s Deverry Cycle
I started reading this series when I was 14. I finished when I was 34. It’s an enthralling celtic knot of a story, with so many strands and so many past and present lives that I couldn’t see how Kerr would draw them all together in a satisfying conclusion. She did, and I’d love to see someone do the same with a screen adaptation. Unfortunately, the sheer scale of the project probably means that it won’t be happening any time soon.
Julie Bertagna’s frighteningly plausible vision of a waterbound future is apparently being made into a screenplay, but I can’t find any other information about the project. Bertagna’s drowned world is beautifully realised and could be stunning on the big screen.
The End We Start From
Benedict Cumberbatch’s production company recently acquired the film rights for Megan Hunter’s bravely pared-back tale of post-apocalyptic parenthood. Handled well, this could be something really special.
I can imagine various different interpretations of Adrian Barnes’ brutal dystopia, but my gut feeling is that this tale of sleepless, disintegrating humanity would best lend itself to the type of visceral cinematography seen in 28 Days Later.
The Otherland series
Tad William’s epic tale is set in a cyberspace that no longer seems as remote as it did back in 1996 when the first book was published. However, the scale and diversity of this imaginary world make it as fresh and compelling as ever, with huge scope for successful adaptation.
Nick Harkaway’s genre-crossing steampunk-ish tale of international espionage and clockwork would be glorious on screen. By turns funny, moving and gently nostalgic, Angelmaker is a quirky romp of a novel, and I’ll be queuing outside the cinema if a screen adaptation ever becomes a reality.
Finally…The Space Between The Stars! I was once asked who I’d like to play my main characters in a film adaptation, and I struggled to come up with many casting ideas. When it comes to locations, however, I have a whole film’s worth of settings planned out in my mind. The second half of the book is set in the north-east of England, where I’m from, and several of the locations actually exist. The Northumberland coast is a spectacularly beautiful part of the world, and I’d love to see it brought to life on the big screen.
The Space Between The Stars is OUT NOW from Tor UK.