22 votes

Is there a book that you'd like to see made into a movie or series?

This is a general, "what books have themes or content that would make for great movies" question. Graphic novels are included here.

Could have posted in ~talk or ~movies, but I'm seeking the opinions of dedicated readers, who've had the thought in considering a story, "I'd really like to see the visuals for this", or "a movie/series adaptation could expand on these themes".

Also, what were your biggest disappointments in the rendering of a book into a movie/TV series?

My picks:
Ursula Le Guin, The Dispossessed. Can't say that it's likely to get the nuanced treatment it deserves, but an even-handed visualization of socialist vs. capitalist societies is overdue, and it's got spaceflight and FTL information transfer.
Warren Ellis, Transmetropolitan. Not that he's ever going to grant the rights, but this one's a no-brainer for American cinema - brash, loud, splashy, violent, with bigger-than-life characters and themes.
James Tiptree, Jr. (a/k/a Alice Sheldon), Her Smoke Rose Up Forever. I'd love to see a short series based on this collection.
China Mieville - anything from the New Crobuzon books. The baroque ruin backgrounding the scenes, and the panoply of characters, should make for amazing cinema; a little judicious editing will be needed to make the stories work for the screen.
[Obscure] Norman Spinrad's Bug Jack Barron, subject to timely and relevant updates for 21st Century media. There's a great theme about how selective presentation of video clips and the editor's viewpoint influences the story being told.
K.W. Jeter, Farewell Horizontal, this one's gonna have great visuals, trust me.
John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath, remade as a story about border migration.
Joe Haldeman, The Forever War - man, is it ever time for this one in the U.S.
Dan Simmons, Hyperion - the World Tree, the Shrike, and plenty of other opportunities for fine visuals.
Salman Rushdie, Haroun and the Sea of Stories. Another candidate for an anthology series; perfect for animation.
Tibor Fischer, The Thought Gang - it's a heist story, but also a comedy and a satire. Kind of amazed no one has made it into a movie before.

Biggest recent disappointment - The adaptation of Richard Morgan's Altered Carbon. Edited to completely discard the political messaging and amplify the sex/violence. Turgid, poor special effects, and gruesome acting.

46 comments

  1. [10]
    mat Link
    I would like to see Dune made into a TV series. Not a film. There's too much of it for a film (or even two films, Denis). Maybe the Game of Thrones team could do it, they'll be available soon. I'd...

    I would like to see Dune made into a TV series. Not a film. There's too much of it for a film (or even two films, Denis). Maybe the Game of Thrones team could do it, they'll be available soon.

    I'd like a Culture series which does justice to the books. But I don't think it's possible. Sci-fi onscreen is almost always disappointing - even The Expanse wasn't done very well and the source books were only mediocre at best in that case. I don't think anyone could make the Culture like they are in my head. I think that's testament in part to Banks' amazing writing.

    Speaking of impossible, my two favourite books - Meiville's Embassytown is impossible to take to the screen; and Mark Z. Danielewski’s House Of Leaves would be very very hard. Except, he's only gone and written a screenplay (linked in the article, worth a read)

    Biggest recent disappointment: The City and The City. They tried really hard but it just missed. Which is a shame because I love the book.

    Can't wait to be disappointed by Good Omens later this year. I really don't want to be.

    11 votes
    1. [7]
      patience_limited (edited ) Link Parent
      Dune is going to be the story that's Mount Everest for multiple directors for the next century - it's just too damn vast, and I don't know how this gets adapted into a proper screenplay. I didn't...

      Dune is going to be the story that's Mount Everest for multiple directors for the next century - it's just too damn vast, and I don't know how this gets adapted into a proper screenplay.

      I didn't include Ian Banks' Culture series mainly because it's too big - the themes, the scale of the civilization, and the density of the plotting and characterization. On the same scope, Alastair Reynolds' books - I'd love to see the Glitter Band of Revenger show up on screen, but I can't think of any director or cinematographer who'd do it justice.

      Wow, House of Leaves? {The spouse's response was, "Yikes. How?", when I mentioned it.}
      Yes, I'd watch that. I'd had something of the same thoughts about Carlos Ruiz Zafon's The Shadow of the Wind - the story is just too convoluted to bring to movie or series formats without leaving the audience in the dust.

      Embassytown's plot is... difficult. I don't think that Counterpart really has much to do with The City and the City, it's an intricate and delicately realized story in its own right.

      6 votes
      1. [6]
        Algernon_Asimov Link Parent
        Nor does anyone else. That's why, despite repeated attempts, this has only made it to the screen twice - and failed both times. It's too talky. It's too thinky. It's too introspective. A lot of...

        I don't know how this gets adapted into a proper screenplay.

        Nor does anyone else. That's why, despite repeated attempts, this has only made it to the screen twice - and failed both times.

        It's too talky. It's too thinky. It's too introspective. A lot of the book happens inside people's heads! And, as @mat rightly points out, there's far too much material in the book for a movie (or even a trilogy of movies). The only way to film this book is to strip it of its depth and nuance, and focus on the actions - which won't satisfy either people who have read the book, or people who haven't.

        Some books just aren't suited to a screen treatment. Like Isaac Asimov's Foundation trilogy, which every fan wants to see made into a movie or series, and which every fan will be disappointed by when they see the final product. That's why people keep buying the rights and then letting them lapse: it's just too hard to film some books.

        5 votes
        1. [4]
          patience_limited Link Parent
          Well, I'm sitting here watching the film adaptation of Jeff Vandermeer's Annihilation right now, and I'd have sworn that would be a plotless mess because there's so much interior dialogue and...

          Well, I'm sitting here watching the film adaptation of Jeff Vandermeer's Annihilation right now, and I'd have sworn that would be a plotless mess because there's so much interior dialogue and unreliable narration. A Dune series would be feasible, but as you say, it's going to have to leave a great deal on the floor in ways that won't satisfy text originalists.

          4 votes
          1. [2]
            mat Link Parent
            If you can force yourself through GRRM's horrible prose (which I don't actually recommend doing), the Song of Ice and Fire books lose relatively little when they become Game of Thrones onscreen so...

            If you can force yourself through GRRM's horrible prose (which I don't actually recommend doing), the Song of Ice and Fire books lose relatively little when they become Game of Thrones onscreen so it is possible to take something long and fairly complex and take it to screen. If you have a good screenwriter and a shedload of budget..

            Dune TV could be done and mostly keep people happy. I fear Villeneuve's upcoming works won't do that though.

            I was surprised at how well Annihilation worked as a film. I sort of want them to have a run at some more JVdM now. Maybe Borne the movie?

            2 votes
            1. patience_limited (edited ) Link Parent
              GRRM's prose isn't so much horrible, as afflicted with lengthy discursions and other self-indulgent bloat. Editing is a dying art, and I'd like to meet any editor still brave enough to trim an...

              GRRM's prose isn't so much horrible, as afflicted with lengthy discursions and other self-indulgent bloat. Editing is a dying art, and I'd like to meet any editor still brave enough to trim an author as titanically popular as GRRM. I expect the publisher is also more interested in keeping him flattered and generating revenue, than in producing quality literature.

              I'm of two minds about the movie titled Annihilation. Taking the film as a an act of storytelling largely independent of the text, it's mostly successful and satisfying. The acting and cinematography are much better than science fiction productions usually receive. There are some noteworthy thefts (homages?) from better movies, though - Alien, Solaris, Stalker, even 2001.

              Seen in relation to the text, it's a mockery, with story and characters grafted on to craft a Hollywood narrative. The changes to the ending were particularly irritating - I don't think it's much of a spoiler to note a horror movie trope so hoary it practically reaches out of the dirt to grab your ankle as the credits roll.

              3 votes
          2. vakieh Link Parent
            Except they're totally different things - 'inspired by' might be closer than it being an adaptation. Same with Altered Carbon. The original couldn't be made for the screen, so they made something...

            Except they're totally different things - 'inspired by' might be closer than it being an adaptation. Same with Altered Carbon. The original couldn't be made for the screen, so they made something different.

            Dune could definitely be taken to the screen successfully, but you would need to lose, add, and change a SHITLOAD of things, and then change the ending completely (because after God-Emperor and in some ways even during or before it just falls into fucking whack territory).

        2. mat Link Parent
          I actually rate Lynch's Dune, although not so much the butchered version the studio made him release. You can, via the magic of the Internet, acquire a copy of a fan edit called Dune: The Enhanced...

          I actually rate Lynch's Dune, although not so much the butchered version the studio made him release. You can, via the magic of the Internet, acquire a copy of a fan edit called Dune: The Enhanced Edition Redux (clunky title) by a chap called "spicediver", who recut the film using deleted scenes and supposedly a copy of the original shooting script. It's very different to the theatrical release and comes in a little over three hours long.

          It is worth the time, if only to redeem Lynch somewhat.

          2 votes
    2. spctrvl Link Parent
      Consider Phlebas is getting an adaptation. I think it's possible to pull off well, but unlikely.

      Consider Phlebas is getting an adaptation. I think it's possible to pull off well, but unlikely.

      4 votes
    3. a_wild_swarm_appears Link Parent
      Right there with you, this'd be top of my list, but I don't think anyone could do it justice. The scale of it is just too immense. Must be a TV series though, not movies.

      I'd like a Culture series which does justice to the books. But I don't think it's possible.

      Right there with you, this'd be top of my list, but I don't think anyone could do it justice. The scale of it is just too immense. Must be a TV series though, not movies.

  2. [2]
    Bishop Link
    it's an absolute travesty that Paulo Coelho's "The Alchemist" hasn't been made into a movie yet. i don't even like movies and i want this lmao

    it's an absolute travesty that Paulo Coelho's "The Alchemist" hasn't been made into a movie yet.

    i don't even like movies and i want this lmao

    7 votes
    1. mrbig Link Parent
      Ironically, Paulo Coelho is considered low literature in his/my own country.

      Ironically, Paulo Coelho is considered low literature in his/my own country.

      6 votes
  3. [5]
    mrbig Link
    Permutation City, but only by the hands of Dennis Villeneuve.

    Permutation City, but only by the hands of Dennis Villeneuve.

    5 votes
    1. [2]
      patience_limited Link Parent
      Oh, yes, this! I have no idea how the storyline will work as cinema, but the visual effects (especially done by Villeneuve) could be amazing.

      Oh, yes, this! I have no idea how the storyline will work as cinema, but the visual effects (especially done by Villeneuve) could be amazing.

      4 votes
      1. mrbig (edited ) Link Parent
        Visually speaking, many directors could create the world of Permutation City: Steven Spielberg, Peter Jackson, James Cameron, Christopher Nolan, Zack Snyder, the Watchowski etc. I thought of...

        Visually speaking, many directors could create the world of Permutation City: Steven Spielberg, Peter Jackson, James Cameron, Christopher Nolan, Zack Snyder, the Watchowski etc. I thought of Villeneuve because he's a master of mystery. If you think about it, almost all his films are in the mystery genre (and the ones that aren't have prominent mystery elements). Permutation City is basically a sci-fi mystery, something he did very well in Arrival and Blade Runner.

        2 votes
    2. [2]
      Hypersapien Link Parent
      What about some other Egan works, like Distress or Diaspora? Diaspora would be mind boggling.

      What about some other Egan works, like Distress or Diaspora? Diaspora would be mind boggling.

      1 vote
      1. mrbig Link Parent
        I only read, and loved, Permutation City. I intend to read all of his books, for sure. But my fragile mind needs a palate cleanser, so now I'm reading the first book in the Witcher series.

        I only read, and loved, Permutation City. I intend to read all of his books, for sure. But my fragile mind needs a palate cleanser, so now I'm reading the first book in the Witcher series.

        2 votes
  4. [3]
    SuperGracchiBros (edited ) Link
    I think the superhero web-serial Worm should be made into an animated series. It has to be animated because any live-action show would be incredibly effects heavy, partly since the main...

    I think the superhero web-serial Worm should be made into an animated series. It has to be animated because any live-action show would be incredibly effects heavy, partly since the main protagonists power is controlling swarms of bugs. Even HBO would be hard-pressed to find the budget to show everything the series deserves.
    I also think it's crazy that Netflix and Games Workshop haven't partnered for a Warhammer 40k movie or series.

    4 votes
    1. MimicSquid Link Parent
      I loved Worm, but if printed it would be a 26 book series. You might be able to deal with some of the same concepts and characters, but there's no chance of it being given even a tiny touch of its...

      I loved Worm, but if printed it would be a 26 book series. You might be able to deal with some of the same concepts and characters, but there's no chance of it being given even a tiny touch of its original expanse.

      2 votes
    2. hungariantoast Link Parent
      Yeah, I feel like the only way to cover Worm on the screen is as an animated series and at 1,680,000 words, or 30 arcs, it's going to be a lot of animating, because you'd be hard pressed to fit...

      Yeah, I feel like the only way to cover Worm on the screen is as an animated series and at 1,680,000 words, or 30 arcs, it's going to be a lot of animating, because you'd be hard pressed to fit any two arcs into a single season.

      (I also feel like the bullying would be much less rage inducing, and thus, much less effective, in an animated format than it is as text or would be with real actors)

      Here's a comment by Wildbow, Worm's author, that's related to this.

      Of course, I'd be extremely weary of any kind of adaptation of Worm, because it has a lot of "hard to conquer" elements when you put it on a screen, and most of the serious proposals the author has received about working with Worm, whether it be just publishing it as a book, or as a TV show, have just been downright cringe.

      For instance, the famous "take that, you worm" comment.

      1 vote
  5. mcluk Link
    Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown. It's an amazing book, and I'd love to see it made into a blockbuster movie sometime.

    Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown. It's an amazing book, and I'd love to see it made into a blockbuster movie sometime.

    3 votes
  6. [5]
    Catt Link
    It can go so horribly wrong, but I would love to see Jacqueline Carey's Kushiel's Dart trilogy. I think it would take a lot of thought to not to end up being too cheesy or pornish, but have always...

    It can go so horribly wrong, but I would love to see Jacqueline Carey's Kushiel's Dart trilogy. I think it would take a lot of thought to not to end up being too cheesy or pornish, but have always wanted to see this onscreen since I heard a fan made score of a pivotal scene in the third book.

    3 votes
    1. [4]
      patience_limited Link Parent
      I haven't read the books - fantasy romance (or romance in general) isn't my cup of tea, but many people have said it's good, and the storyline looks like it's made for a pretty series. I gave the...

      I haven't read the books - fantasy romance (or romance in general) isn't my cup of tea, but many people have said it's good, and the storyline looks like it's made for a pretty series. I gave the time of day to Outlander, so I can't complain too much.

      3 votes
      1. [3]
        Catt Link Parent
        The first book's the best and I honestly wouldn't classify it as romance, more intrigue. Though it probably has the only palettable romance in a fantasy series for me. Carey's a fairly beautiful...

        The first book's the best and I honestly wouldn't classify it as romance, more intrigue. Though it probably has the only palettable romance in a fantasy series for me. Carey's a fairly beautiful writer, but extremely safe. The second trilogy, which people seem to really enjoy, was all romance, and I honestly can't believe I even manage to finish it. The third trilogy, I literally couldn't get though (also because I found it really racist). She makes bank on the romance and clearly is just happy to write those after her initial success.

        3 votes
        1. [2]
          patience_limited Link Parent
          If you like intrigue, Seth Dickinson's The Traitor Baru Cormorant is a masterpiece. There are succeeding books I haven't read yet, but I kind of want the whole series so I can go back and see how...

          If you like intrigue, Seth Dickinson's The Traitor Baru Cormorant is a masterpiece. There are succeeding books I haven't read yet, but I kind of want the whole series so I can go back and see how the pieces fit together. If you can imagine a much, much darker fantasy version of John Le Carre's Tinker Tailor, with Bill Hayden as the hero, this is the book.

          4 votes
          1. Catt Link Parent
            Ooo that sounds like something I would like. Thanks for the suggestion.

            Ooo that sounds like something I would like. Thanks for the suggestion.

            2 votes
  7. [4]
    Akir Link
    The book that I am always trying to get everyone to read, Shardik, is perfect for a limited series. The story is epic in scale, having an entire kingdom taken over twice, and the characters...

    The book that I am always trying to get everyone to read, Shardik, is perfect for a limited series. The story is epic in scale, having an entire kingdom taken over twice, and the characters involved change at an even more extreme degree.

    There is also a bear with the power of magical realism. What else could you ask for.

    3 votes
    1. patience_limited Link Parent
      The animated movie from Richard Adams' Watership Down was reasonably true to the book, so I can see Shardik being worth an effort onscreen. I read it when I was barely old enough to tie my own...

      The animated movie from Richard Adams' Watership Down was reasonably true to the book, so I can see Shardik being worth an effort onscreen. I read it when I was barely old enough to tie my own shoelaces, and may give it another try.

      2 votes
    2. [2]
      Hypersapien Link Parent
      What exactly do you mean by "magical realism"? I tried looking up a description of the book but couldn't get a good explanation of the bear's powers.

      What exactly do you mean by "magical realism"? I tried looking up a description of the book but couldn't get a good explanation of the bear's powers.

      1. Akir Link Parent
        If you plan on reading the book, don't read on. It's better to have these questions unanswered because thinking about it is one of the major reasons why I personally enjoyed reading it so much....

        If you plan on reading the book, don't read on. It's better to have these questions unanswered because thinking about it is one of the major reasons why I personally enjoyed reading it so much.

        Magical realism is when you attribute supernatural means to real events. A great example is "The Secret". Creating boards doesn't actually help you achieve your goal other than providing motivation to work on it.

        The term is also used to describe a metagenre of fiction where magical things happen in a "realistic" manner, which I think is a good way to describe the way the book is written.

  8. [5]
    Ellimist Link
    So not a single book but a book series that I think is ripe for Netflix adaptation is the Animorphs series. According to the author KA Applegate, the series may soon be adapted into a graphic...

    So not a single book but a book series that I think is ripe for Netflix adaptation is the Animorphs series. According to the author KA Applegate, the series may soon be adapted into a graphic novel form but fans of the books have been clamoring for a Netflix series for some time now.

    I'd prefer an animated series to live action if only to ensure we don't get another Nickelodeon disaster.

    3 votes
    1. [2]
      dubteedub Link Parent
      I would love a live action reboot adaptation of Animorphs. Particularly with the strides made with CGI and special effects since the original show aired, that would be a lerfect nostalgia bait...

      I would love a live action reboot adaptation of Animorphs. Particularly with the strides made with CGI and special effects since the original show aired, that would be a lerfect nostalgia bait show to bring back

      1 vote
      1. Ellimist Link Parent
        Oh don't get me wrong, I'd love to see a live action and I totally agree it'd be the perfect storm of nostalgia bait for the 90s the way Stranger Things is for the 80s. The books themselves were...

        Oh don't get me wrong, I'd love to see a live action and I totally agree it'd be the perfect storm of nostalgia bait for the 90s the way Stranger Things is for the 80s. The books themselves were rife with references to all sorts of pop culture. Who can forget Nice Is Neat?

        I just think it's also one of those things that they'd have to be on point with the SFX to really drive the show home and animated would be a safer way to do that.

        1 vote
    2. [2]
      Adys Link Parent
      Was Nickelodeon's animorphs really bad? I don't remember much of it, except for a couple of creepy scenes.

      Was Nickelodeon's animorphs really bad? I don't remember much of it, except for a couple of creepy scenes.

      1. Ellimist Link Parent
        Yea.....at least what I remember of it. All the morphing and aliens the book had would've required a pretty substantial SFX budget and Nickelodeon just didn't have it for that show.

        Yea.....at least what I remember of it. All the morphing and aliens the book had would've required a pretty substantial SFX budget and Nickelodeon just didn't have it for that show.

        1 vote
  9. Happy_Shredder Link
    I'd love to see a series of short films based on the Poetic/Prose. A lot of the material can be difficult to read, but I feel that many of the stories are still relevant and compelling. Hence it...

    I'd love to see a series of short films based on the Poetic/Prose. A lot of the material can be difficult to read, but I feel that many of the stories are still relevant and compelling. Hence it is well placed for an adaptation, especially considering the success and production quality of GoT and Vikings.

    On the mythological side, there tales of the world's creation, battles with giants, contests of wit, and the ever present thread of Loki shitstirring, culminating with Hermod's ride to Hel and Ragnarok.

    On the heroic side, the Volsungasaga and Niflung poems have been treated before --- famously by Wagner, and Tolkien drew much influence from here too --- and it's such a rip-roaring collection of battles and betrayals I think it would fit very well on screen as a short series.

    2 votes
  10. Crespyl Link
    I've been hoping for an adaptation of David Weber's Honor Harrington series. It's great space opera loosely styled after Horatio Hornblower, following the lead characters' career from midshipwoman...

    I've been hoping for an adaptation of David Weber's Honor Harrington series.

    It's great space opera loosely styled after Horatio Hornblower, following the lead characters' career from midshipwoman to admiral and politician, with richly developed tactical space combat and interesting grand strategy/political maneuvering elements later on.

    It's perhaps not the most philosophically rich SF, but it's a grand adventure with room for lots of topics, and seems like it'd be relatively straightforward and accessible to wider audiences, especially compared to something like Annihilation or Electric Dreams. I'm always kind of disappointed and surprised that it just hasn't happened yet.

    1 vote
  11. [2]
    mrbig (edited ) Link
    The Man Who Folded Himself is the craziest most awesome mind-bending time travel story I have ever read, and it would one be one hell of a movie. Like they did with All You Zombies. KIND OF A...

    The Man Who Folded Himself is the craziest most awesome mind-bending time travel story I have ever read, and it would one be one hell of a movie. Like they did with All You Zombies.

    KIND OF A SPOILER BELOW

    It focuses more on the psychological aspects of time traveling, answering the question: who do you love the most but yourself?

    1 vote
    1. Hypersapien Link Parent
      That is a fantastic book. It explores just about every time travel trope there is.

      That is a fantastic book. It explores just about every time travel trope there is.

      1 vote
  12. kichelmoon Link
    A Blood Meridian made by the people who did Sicario would is a dream of mine since the movie came out.

    A Blood Meridian made by the people who did Sicario would is a dream of mine since the movie came out.

    1 vote
  13. [2]
    Nitta Link
    Andy Weir's Artemis would make a great action movie. The book was 0% boredom, 100% entertainment.

    Andy Weir's Artemis would make a great action movie. The book was 0% boredom, 100% entertainment.

    1. SleepyGary Link Parent
      My wife and I really enjoyed the audiobook of this. Rosario did an excellent job narrating it, kept us hooked that we basically finished it in two sittings during a road trip.

      My wife and I really enjoyed the audiobook of this. Rosario did an excellent job narrating it, kept us hooked that we basically finished it in two sittings during a road trip.

  14. Hypersapien Link
    There is an almost entirely unknown fantasy paperback from the 90s called "Gossamer Axe" by Gael Baudino. It's about a 6th century celtic bard who gets trapped along with her (female) lover in the...

    There is an almost entirely unknown fantasy paperback from the 90s called "Gossamer Axe" by Gael Baudino. It's about a 6th century celtic bard who gets trapped along with her (female) lover in the Sidh, a timeless fairy realm (think Shakespeareian elves). She finally escapes in the 18th century, but isn't able to bring her lover out with her. She spends the next 200 years trying to figure out how to rescue her, occasionally using magic to make herself young again and surviving in the world as a harp teacher. Until 1987, when she discovers Heavy Metal and realizes she's found something powerful enough to steal her lover back from the Sidh.

    Yes, I realize it sounds corny as hell, but the author pulls it off beautifully. And in the hands of the right director it could be wonderful. I don't think I'd like to see it squeezed into a two hour movie, but as an HBO miniseries it would be perfect. HBO because there is a lot of sex and violence, religious bigotry, and references to child rape (one of the main characters is a survivor and is dealing with the effects)

  15. Hypersapien Link
    I think Hyperion is getting a TV series

    I think Hyperion is getting a TV series

  16. maze Link
    The Red Rising series by Pierce Brown. Or anything by Sanderson (mistborn, stormlight, etc...)

    The Red Rising series by Pierce Brown.
    Or anything by Sanderson (mistborn, stormlight, etc...)

  17. masochist Link
    By current Hollywood that's obsessed with style over substance, with gratuitous glitz and gaudy glamor at the expense of everything else? Absolutely not. Hollywood hasn't been interested in making...

    By current Hollywood that's obsessed with style over substance, with gratuitous glitz and gaudy glamor at the expense of everything else? Absolutely not. Hollywood hasn't been interested in making what I want to see for a very long time, so I'm not interested in seeing what they create.

    Now, Netflix, on the other hand? They're doing good work, especially with their animated titles. That episode of Bojack Horseman where Bojack "eulogizes" his mother is the most powerful thing I have watched in decades (okay, yes, absolutely due to personal context, but not many shows actually have the gumption to depict a mother as anything other than perfect).