Science Fiction/Fantasy

Kind of a Big Reel: 8 Blockbuster Science Fiction and Fantasy Books Becoming Films

Liberty Hardy

Senior Contributing Editor

Liberty Hardy is an unrepentant velocireader, writer, bitey mad lady, and tattoo canvas. Turn-ons include books, books and books. Her favorite exclamation is “Holy cats!” Liberty reads more than should be legal, sleeps very little, frequently writes on her belly with Sharpie markers, and when she dies, she’s leaving her body to library science. Until then, she lives with her three cats, Millay, Farrokh, and Zevon, in Maine. She is also right behind you. Just kidding! She’s too busy reading. Twitter: @MissLiberty

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

Now available in a deluxe paperback edition with gorgeous spray-painted and stenciled edges, Tomi Adeyemi’s groundbreaking West African-inspired fantasy debut conjures a world of magic and danger, perfect for fans of Leigh Bardugo and Sabaa Tahir.

Adaptation: the word strikes joy and/or trepidation in the hearts of readers everywhere. You want the filmmakers and the actors to do a good job turning the books you love into a film. Who will play your favorite character? Will they change the ending? Will it even get made? Did you know the rights to many books sell, but not very many actually get adapted? Producers often buy up rights when a book first goes on the market in case it’s a huge hit. A book’s rights can pass through many hands before it is made into a movie. And sometimes, it can take a while before production starts, whether it’s casting changes, or strikes, or the pandemic. For instance, Dune, Part 2 and the Wicked film adaptation of the musical adaptation of the book (phew) are finally headed to our screens this year after delays!

For this post, we have eight more blockbuster science fiction and fantasy books becoming films. There are even more becoming series, but that’s a story for another day. It may be taking a while for some of these great books to make it to our screens, but they’re all still going ahead, and they’re all exciting! There’s another space adventure from the author of The Martian, V.E. Schwab’s tale of immortality, a sci-fi classic from a master, and a beloved fantasy that will make everyone freak out when it is finally done. Which one of these are you the most excited to see?

cover of Lore by Alexandra Bracken; image of white Medusa statue

Lore by Alexandra Bracken

The story: Bracken’s YA fantasy novel is set in the world of Greek mythology. It’s about nine gods who must participate in a hunt every seven years as punishment, where they are chased by human descendants. Lore fled that life after the murder of her family, but as the hunt approaches again, one of the original gods will offer her a deal to rid her life of the old ways forever.

The latest: It’s being developed by Universal and will be produced by Amy Pascal. This is Bracken’s second adaptation after The Darkest Minds.

cover of parable of the sower by Octavia Butler; illustration of a Black woman in an red and orange dress

The Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler

The story: Written in 1993 and set in the early 2020s, this is the story of a teen girl in California. Lauren’s family’s status allows them to live behind walls that keep them from the climate disasters and social chaos going on in the world. Lauren is a hyper-empath, highly sensitive to the emotions of others, and when the outside world finally finds its way in, it leads her on a journey that will change lives.

The latest: A24 has the rights to the book with Garrett Bradley attached to direct.

cover of Exit West by Mohsin Hamid; blue with large light blue font

Exit West by Mohsin Hamid

The story: In an unnamed country where the destruction of civil war strikes closer every day, two people meet and start a relationship, partly based on the idea that the future doesn’t hold much for them. But then they learn of a way out of the violence: there are doors they can pass through that will take them to safety in another country. But can their relationship, brought about by war and loneliness, survive a move to a stranger land and an uncertain future?

The latest: Riz Ahmed will star in the film, being produced by the Obamas’ production company, Higher Ground Productions, for Netflix.

cover of Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro; red with illustration of a hand holding a sun in the middle

Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro

The story: From Nobel laureate Ishiguro comes this tale of Klara, an Artificial Friend, who has been waiting for the day she is chosen at the store to go to her forever home. The novel explores the limits and moral questions of artificial intelligence, the rights of Klara, and whether she is truly capable of love.

The latest: The movie was recently announced, with Amy Adams and Jenna Ortega attached to star in it and Taika Waititi directing. One of Ishiguro’s previous novels, Never Let Me Go, was adapted into a film in 2010.

cover of The Fifth Kingdom by N.K. Jemisin; oxidized metal green with a decorative curlicue on the wall

The Broken Earth trilogy by N.K. Jemisin

The story: This award-winning dystopian fantasy series is set in a world destroyed by climate change. All three books in Jemisin’s Broken Earth trilogy, The Fifth Season, The Obelisk Gate, and The Stone Sky, won a Hugo Award for Best Novel. She is the first author to win three consecutive Hugos in that category.

The latest: Sony Pictures Entertainment and TriStar Pictures will be making the movies, with Jemisin herself to write the screenplays.

cover of The Night Circus byErin Morgenstern

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

The story: Morgenstern’s ethereal, hugely successful debut novel follows what unfolds between two young magicians, trained from a young age to compete against one another, under the tent of the Night Circus.

The latest: The adaptation of the novel has been in the works for almost as long as the book has been around. As of 2019, it was still going ahead. While fans may have to wait a bit longer, it seems certain that someday there will be a movie of one of the most popular books of the 21st century.

cover of The Invisible Life of Addie Larue by V.E. Schwab; black with gold font

The Invisible Life of Addie Larue by V. E. Schwab

The story: A young woman in France in the 18th century running from her wedding, makes a deal with a dark stranger. Addie wants everyone to forget about her — but she gets more than that. Not only does everyone always forget her now as soon as she is out of sight, but she’s also immortal. But after three centuries of loneliness, Addie meets a man in a bookshop who remembers her, and it changes everything.

The latest: According to Schwab in October, the draft for the screenplay has been revised (and we’re getting a Darker Shade of Magic adaptation, too!)

cover of Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir; black and gold with an astronaut floating on a line in the middle

Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir

The story: Ryland Grace is a teacher-turned-astronaut on a last-chance mission to save Earth. When he wakes from cryostasis with no memory, he discovers he is the only survivor left on board. He must puzzle out who he is and what they were doing on this ship in order to save his home planet.

The latest: Hollywood sent Matt Damon to space in the adaptation of The Martian by Weir, and now Ryan Gosling is set to blast off for Project Hail Mary, with Phil Lord and Chris Miller directing.

For more literary adaptation news, be sure to check out Books the 2024 Oscar Nominees are Based On and 8 Mystery and Thriller Novels with Great Movie Adaptations. And to keep up with all things bookish, be sure to sign up for our amazing newsletters!