Oscar Isaac looking ready to battle as Duke Leto Atreides in Dune.
Warner Bros. Pictures
Game of Thrones filled our lives for nearly 10 years. While you wait for George R.R. Martin to finish the series of novels that inspired HBO’s smash hit series, what fantasy bestseller will be your next obsession?
Luckily there’s no shortage of epic fantasy, sci-fi and thriller books being adapted into movies and TV shows in the coming months and years. From beloved classics like Lord of the Rings and Foundation to contemporary best-sellers like Who Fears Death and Ninth House, these are some of the adaptations set to challenge Game of Thrones‘ crown.
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The cult 1984 movie and 2000 miniseries have their fans, but in 2021 we’re being treated to a pandemic-postponed big-screen version of Frank Herbert’s classic novel. In the far future of humanity, Duke Leto Atreides and his son Paul battle over life-giving spice with the venal Baron Harkonnen on the desert world of Arrakis. After reimagining Blade Runner 2049, acclaimed director Denis Villeneuve takes on another sci-fi classic with the help of a galaxy of stars: Timothée Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, Oscar Isaac, Josh Brolin, Zendaya, Jason Momoa and Javier Bardem are among those involved.
Isaac Asimov’s seminal Foundation series is coming to Apple‘s streaming service, Apple TV Plus. Beginning as a series of short stories in 1942, the Foundation books make up a vast, dense sci-fi saga about scientists trying to stave off an oncoming dark age. The 10-episode series is being developed by Josh Friedman, the man behind the Terminator TV series, and David Goyer, co-writer of the Dark Knight movies.
Who Fears Death
Game of Thrones fans will be interested to know George R.R. Martin is an executive producer on HBO’s show based on the 2015 novel by Nnedi Okorafor. The post-apocalyptic afrofuturist story follows young Onyesonwu on a quest to find her father — a sorceror who raped her mother. It’s being adapted by Twilight Zone writer Selwn Seyfu Hinds.
Lord of the Rings
Amazon paid a quarter of a billion dollars for the rights to a five-season TV show based on JRR Tolkien‘s Lord of the Rings stories, because who hasn’t looked at Peter Jackson‘s movie series and thought, yeah it’s OK but it could be longer. The eye-wateringly Amazon Prime Video series is set in the distant history of Middle-earth, years before the events of The Hobbit, The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers and The Return of the King. The pandemic didn’t stop filming from taking place in New Zealand, and the show is set to premiere in 2021 if all goes according to plan.
The runaway success of Ernest Cline’s novel Ready Player One guaranteed his next book, Armada, was bought by Universal Pictures before it was even published. The book follows high school student Zack Lightman as he suspects his favorite online game is a sophisticated simulator training him to face a very real alien invasion.
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It was adapted by the BBC in 2000, but this time Neil Gaiman and Akiva Goldsman are involved in a new adaptation of the baroque novels by Mervyn Peake. Murder and betrayal ensue as the rightful heir Titus Groan to Castle Gormenghast challenges the scheming Steerpike.
Neil Gaiman’s legendary comic series has been the subject of adaptation rumours for, well, decades. It’s finally happening thanks to Netflix and TV veteran Allan Heinberg — who also co-wrote the Wonder Woman movie — with GoT star Gwendoline Christie as Lucifer.
The Kingkiller Chronicle
Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda and cult director Sam Raimi are reportedly overseeing TV and movie adaptations of this recent series by author Patrick Rothfuss. First released in 2007, The Name of the Wind and sequel The Wise Man’s Fear recount the memoirs of musician and magician Kvothe. Like Game of Thrones, the final book, called The Doors of Stone, has yet to be published.
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Amazon boss Jeff Bezos gave a personal stamp of approval to the announcement that Amazon’s streaming service is adapting Iain M. Banks’ 1987 novel, the first in the Culture series. These weighty space opera stories are set in a utopian society in which civilizations awkwardly co-exist with each other and with artificial intelligence, while spaceships have names like “Prosthetic Conscience” and “No More Mr Nice Guy.”
HBO Max is prepping a miniseries based on the 2014 novel by Emily St. John Mandel, which follows a theater troupe in a post-pandemic world.
Brave New World
Hannah John-Kamen as Wilhelmina Watson in Brave New World.
NBC / Peacock
There are some classics that are already available: Aldous Huxley’s scathing 1932 dystopian novel was adapted into a 2020 series on NBC’s Peacock streaming service. It stars the young Han Solo, Alden Ehrenreich, as a man out of time in a genetically manipulated society. Demi Moore also appears. Homecoming creator David Wiener is in charge, joined by legendary comics weirdo Grant Morrison.
His Dark Materials
Forget the underwhelming 2007 movie version of The Golden Compass. This BBC and HBO adaptation is a TV show giving the space and depth for a satisfying take on Philip Pullman’s novels Northern Lights, The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass. Steered by some of the producers behind Doctor Who, the story follows young Lyra in an adventure spanning twisted parallel versions of our reality. Logan’s Dafne Keen stars as Lyra with James McAvoy and Lin-Manuel Miranda. A third and final season is on the way.
Michael Sheen and David Tennant enjoy Good Omens.
David Tennant and Michael Sheen are perfectly cast as a demon and an angel throwing a wrench in the works of the apocalypse in Good Omens on Amazon. The Amazon Prime Video miniseries is based on the devilishly funny 1990 novel by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman about the delightful shenanigans that ensue when the antichrist accidentally grows up with the wrong family.
Shadow and Bone / Ninth House
Based on the popular Grishaverse books by Leigh Bardugo, Netflix’s inventive Shadow and Bone brings a fresh twist on fantasy with its Imperial Russia steampunk aesthetic. This YA series is streaming now. Meanwhile Amazon is adapting Bardugo’s Ninth House, the first in an adult series about ghostly secret societies at Yale university.
House of Dragons (Game of Thrones prequel)
OK, so maybe nothing can replace Game of Thrones. If only Westeros will do, HBO has you covered with a planned Game of Thrones prequel series, House of the Dragon, set centuries before the hit show.
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