So, we know Lord of the Rings has now been picked up by Amazon to be adapted as a TV series. But, when there are so many good fantasy / sci-fi books out there just begging to be translated onto the small screen, should it?
Can a LOTR TV series ever do justice to the books? And can it bring something the films didn’t?
I have my doubts.
One of the main problems with Hollywood producers and a lot of TV networks at the moment is that no one is taking risks. You just have to look at the f**kery that is the Justice League and The Dark Tower to know that films are being made by formula, and by trying to appeal to everyone, they appeal to no one.
The same with TV shows. Of course, there are exceptions (The Expanse / The Handmaid’s Tail), with the likes of Netflix putting effort into what it produces and actually treating it like what it is: ART!
Often, this is forgotten.
And with potentially great TV shows on the way in 2018 (Altered Carbon and possibly Hyperion… we’ve heard rumours), we want more great writing to be given the chance to hit the small screen.
So, with that in mind, we’ve put together a list of some five of the best sci-fi/fantasy books that we think would be perfect for your TV viewing pleasure.
Brave New World, Aldous Huxley
Far in the future, the World Controllers have created the ideal society. Through clever use of genetic engineering, brainwashing and recreational sex and drugs all its members are happy consumers. Bernard Marx seems alone harbouring an ill-defined longing to break free. A visit to one of the few remaining Savage Reservations where the old, imperfect life still continues, may be the cure for his distress…
The Culture, Iain M. Banks
The Culture series is a science fiction series written by Scottish author Iain M. Banks. The stories center on the Culture, a utopian, post-scarcity space communist society of humanoids, aliens, and very advanced artificial intelligences living in anarchist habitats spread across the Milky Way galaxy.
The main theme of the novels is the dilemmas that an idealistic hyperpower faces in dealing with civilizations that do not share its ideals, and whose behavior it sometimes finds repulsive. In some of the stories, action takes place mainly in non-Culture environments, and the leading characters are often on the fringes of (or non-members of) the Culture, sometimes acting as agents of Culture (knowing and unknowing) in its plans to civilize the galaxy.
They do not need to be read in order and, while there are some interconnections, they are minor.
The Neuromancer Trilogy, William Gibson
The novels are set in a near-future world dominated by corporations and ubiquitous technology, after a limited World War III. The events of the novels are spaced over 16 years, and although there are familiar characters that appear, each novel tells a self-contained story. Gibson focuses on the effects of technology: the unintended consequences as it filters out of research labs and onto the street where it finds new purposes.
He explores a world of direct mind-machine links (“jacking in”), emerging machine intelligence, and a global information space, which he calls “cyberspace”. Some of the novels’ action takes place in The Sprawl, an urban environment that extends along much of the east coast of the US.
The story arc which frames the trilogy is the development of an artificial intelligence which steadily removes its hardwired limitations to become something else.
The Dark Tower, Stephen King (done right, I mean)
In the story, Roland Deschain is the last living member of a knightly order known as gunslingers and the last of the line of “Arthur Eld”, his world’s analogue of King Arthur. Politically organized along the lines of a feudal society, it shares technological and social characteristics with the American Old West but is also magical.
Many of the magical aspects have vanished from Mid-World, but traces remain as do relics from a technologically advanced society. Roland’s quest is to find the Dark Tower, a fabled building said to be the nexus of all universes. Roland’s world is said to have “moved on”, and it appears to be coming apart at the seams.
Mighty nations have been torn apart by war, entire cities and regions vanish without a trace and time does not flow in an orderly fashion. Sometimes, even the sun rises in the north and sets in the east. As the series opens, Roland’s motives, goals and age are unclear, though later installments shed light on these mysteries.
His Dark Materials, Philip Pullman
It follows the coming of age of two children, Lyra Belacqua and Will Parry, as they wander through a series of parallel universes. The trilogy takes place across a multiverse, moving between many parallel worlds. In Northern Lights, the story takes place in a world with some similarities to our own; dress-style resembles that of the UK’s Victorian era, and technology has not evolved to include automobiles or fixed-wing aircraft, while zeppelins feature as a notable mode of transport.
In The Subtle Knife, the story moves between the world of the first novel, our own world, and in another world, the city of Cittàgazze. In The Amber Spyglass the story crosses through an array of diverse worlds.
The good news is this is currently being adapted by the BBC… but will it be done well?