Science Fiction has never really been out of fashion. With seemingly eternal tentpoles like Star Wars and Star Trek constantly delivering new films and series audiences seem more receptive than ever to stories set amongst the stars or in the future.
The outstanding adaptation of James S.A. Corey‘s Expanse series shows that smart sci-fi can work in a serialized format on television. There’s a forthcoming adaptation of the brilliant Three-Body Problem series by Ken Liu and Asimov‘s own Foundation series has found a way to come to home theatres. What else would be great to see translated from book to small screen, here are eight titles we’d love to see.
Arthur C. Clarke’s Rama Series
Sure the first book, and hopefully the two subsequent novels have been tapped by Denis Villeneuve as future projects, but Arthur C. Clarke‘s novels about expeditions to an alien vehicle passing through our solar system and where it takes them and the readers could really flourish from a series adaptation.
Taking the time to explore the mystery of the Rama vehicle, develop the relationships between the characters, and delve into the wealth of hard science at work in the books could be very addictive, and bingeworthy television. The characters are discovering things as the viewer does, and it allows us to see other life, and our own, from a different perspective. With three novels in the series, there’s a lot of material that could be mined for a television adaptation.
Iain Banks Culture Series
Author Iain Banks‘ Culture Series are all, for the most part, independent stories, but all exist in the same universe. That could give a showrunner lots of room to play. They could create a whole new story set in the Culture, and occasionally brush up against events from the collection of novels.
There are all manner of stories to be told here, and the characters no matter their appearances are all very human and relatable. It’s a fully realized universe ripe for television exploration bringing ships, locations, and character designs to life that have only been seen in the mind’s eye. There are heroic tales, criminal moments, action beats, thrills, and politics it’s all here set against a galactic backdrop.
Alastair Reynold’s Revelation Space Series
The Revelation Space Series marries hard science fiction, with concepts like relativistic travel (no warp speed here), with high space opera and whizz-bang action. Each novel tells its own story and can stand on its own, but there are recurring moments and characters that are touched on throughout the series.
There are long-dead alien species, sentient ships, wondrous discoveries, terrifying visions of spreading disease, horrifying revelations, and characters who play a very long game as they travel the vast distances between worlds and systems while keeping a very human heart at its center. There’s a grittiness to Alastair Reynold‘s creations that feels like space as opposed to future-noir, and that’s a genre that is always fascinating.
Adrian Tchaikovsky’s Final Architecture Series
A series that brilliantly marries hard science and high space opera is Adrian Tchaikovsky‘s Final Architecture series. Earth has been destroyed by a moon-sized thing christened an Architect due to the form of destruction they bring, and humanity is out amongst the stars. There they encounter fantastic mysteries, alien cults, and gangsters, they create an army of female warriors, and intermediaries that allow them to travel the throughways of unspace (think very lonely hyperspace that may or may not be lived in by something). There are artificial beings, and through it all, man remains his own worst enemy. Even when the Architects long thought gone, return.
A visual extravaganza with truly likable and diverse characters, the Final Architecture could be a sweeping series with heroic highs, devastating lows, and the threat of imminent destruction hanging over the heads of an entire galaxy. A fantastic series that would make for an exciting watch.
Andy Weir’s Project: Hail Mary
After the success of The Martian, the rights to Andy Weir’s projects no doubt got snapped up quickly. And while Project: Hail Mary is a stand-alone novel, properly cast, and with the right production, the same exciting, science-filled adventure that awaits viewers of The Martian would find even more in this engaging tale.
Yes, it’s been tapped as a possible film from the duo of Phil Lord and Chris Miller with Ryan Gosling tagged as the lead, but the story, which features a lone surviving astronaut who can’t remember his mission, his name, or where he is. How can he possibly save the world? And what mysteries will be revealed about his past as well as those that await him at his destination? Smart and emotional a series may better serve the story than a shortened film.
H.P. Lovecraft’s At The Mountains of Madness
Arguably more horror than real science fiction, this story by H.P. Lovecraft doesn’t suffer the problematic racism that plagues so many of his other stories. An expedition heads to Antarctica to conduct an investigation into what appear to be the ruins of an ancient, alien civilization.
Once there, and the investigation gets underway horrifying discoveries about the species are made, along with the realization that perhaps they aren’t as dead as believed. The concept of an alien horror so incomprehensible to the human mind that it could lead to madness, is as fascinating as it is terrifying. Similar ideas have been explored in The Thing From Another World, and its 1982 remake, The Thing, but sometimes you want something so jarring, so horrifying, so mindblowing that you turn to Lovecraft.
Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff’s The Illuminae Files Trilogy
A fascinating trilogy that works really well because it keeps its secrets within its text, relying on the fact that its being read and not heard or seen. But it features a fascinating tale. Each book pairs a couple of characters and their story is told through texts, communiqué, and released documents. There’s a lot of humor and a lot of emotion all set against a mad AI, rival mega corporations, and a mass of disinformation on both sides that needs sorting.
While firmly set in the young adult corner of the science fiction realm, that could be a real draw for younger viewers and their families. In fact, a series like this could help serve as a gateway to more science fiction television and books to be explored.
Pierce Brown’s Red Rising Trilogy
A class struggle, young twenty-somethings learning combat and squaring off against one another to be future leaders, and a rebel insurgent planted amongst them planning on bringing it all down. There are hints of Hunger Games, a fantastic book series in its own right, and military schools woven throughout the trilogy, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg as the characters discover themselves and how they perform with each other and under combat, all while examining class structures.
The trilogy has a wealth of material that could be explored, commented and expanded on, and would look visually stunning. And with its younger casting, could help draw in a younger demographic, though the subject is a little bloody. But oh, so good.