Just a few science-fiction novels — whether young adult or adult, widely-known or little-known, earthbound or space-faring — that would make amazing movies or TV shows…
Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
One of the most critically-acclaimed novels of the past year — and with good reason — Station Eleven is the kind of expansive, exhilarating book that stuns you with its insights on humanity and its gorgeous prose. It’s science fiction in the sense that it’s post-apocalyptic, taking place in a familiar world not so very far in the future, after 99% of the human population has been wiped out by an airborne virus, but there are no zombies or aliens to be found. Instead, we follow a diverse group of 100% human characters that are all eventually revealed to be connected in surprising ways — and one of those ways is a mysterious sci-fi comic called “Station Eleven”.
The film rights have been acquired by producer Scott Steindorff (who produced Jon Favreau’s recent indie Chef), but no writer, director, or cast is yet attached. Let’s hope it happens — the book’s poignant visuals and powerful thematic concerns hold serious potential for a gorgeous award-winning drama.
Enchantress from the Stars by Sylvia Engdahl
Enchantress from the Stars is a modern sci-fi classic whose basic conceit is pretty mind-blowing. The book follows three characters from three very different planets: one so advanced that it’s part of a peaceful intergalactic Federation aiming to ensure the safety of less-advanced civilizations without interfering in their evolution; one whose imperialist Empire seeks to colonize less-advanced planets for themselves; and one whose civilization has only reached the advancement of medieval times, with a population that still believes in things like dragons and magic. Elana, a new Federation agent, goes on her first mission to that medieval planet in order to stop the Empire from colonizing it, presenting herself as an ‘enchantress’ to a young peasant named Georyn… and maybe falling for him in the process.
It’s left ambiguous which of these three civilizations is meant to be Earth (all three of their origin planets are a third planet from a sun), and thought-provoking metaphors abound as readers consider the deeper implications of space travel as well as the meaning of stories in general. It’s all very Star Trek meets Avatar, and Hollywood needs to get on it stat.
Among the Hidden and Turnabout by Margaret Peterson Haddix
In this teen dystopian movie renaissance in which we live, why haven’t we had an onscreen adaptation of Margaret Peterson Haddix’s Shadow Children books yet? The series, which starts with Among the Hidden and continues with seven books through Among the Free, deals with some heavy stuff (population control laws enforcing a one-child policy! food shortages and drought! overthrowing the totalitarian government!) in a compelling, thoughtful, gripping way that resonates with older and younger readers alike.
Plus, here’s a bonus — looking for the next big female-driven sci-fi movie? Look no further than Turnabout by the same author, which explores the Benjamin Button-esque concept of ‘aging backwards’ with a more thriller-oriented tone. Turnabout takes place in 2085: teenage best friends Melly and Anny Beth were part of a secret scientific project gone wrong, and time is running out for them to find a solution. Aside from being an innovative, original page-turner, the novel has not one but two strong leading ladies and emphasizes the importance of female friendships — a definite perk in our post-Pitch Perfect world.
Heir Apparent by Vivian Vande Velde
While we’re talking strong teen female leads, Heir Apparent’s Giannine is a gamer chick who finds herself trapped in a virtual reality fantasy game and has to play her way out before her brain is fried, giving a whole new meaning to ‘you win or you die’. Intense? Yes. Interesting? Definitely. Surprisingly hilarious? Also that. Jumping between the futuristic modern world and vaguely medieval Europe, an Heir Apparent movie has the potential to be a fun time for the whole family, and since VR is so hot right now, why not actually make it a virtual reality experience?
Uglies by Scott Westerfeld
The best-selling Uglies trilogy has all the makings of a hit sci-fi TV series or blockbuster trilogy: action-packed drama, fascinating dystopian world-building, and oh yeah, pretty people. Like, a lot of Pretty people. In the universe of Uglies, Pretties, and Specials, everyone gets an operation at the age of sixteen to turn into a flawlessly attractive ‘Pretty’ — but there are few disturbing catches, and heroine Tally Youngblood decides to go undercover to expose them. Uglies is a sci-fi story for our image-obsessed times, and it’s about time it hit screens: various versions of an adaptation have been in development for years.
What sci-fi book do you wish would be adapted for screen? Let us know in the comments below!