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Fantastical Works from Page to Screen

Fantastical Works from Page to Screen

By Materials Librarian Kristine Olsen

Timothee Chalamet and Rebecca Ferguson stand in front of a desert landscape, dressed in tight brown suits that filter water, with breathing tubes to their noses.

Frank Herbert’s Dune is one of the most seminal works of science fiction anyone can pick up. Full of unparalleled world building and character development, ecology, philosophy, and theology, it makes for a deeply compelling yet challenging read. I didn’t tackle this book and all its sequels until I was a twenty-something library school graduate in between graduating and landing my first library gig, and I count myself among the followers of the 1984 Dune movie directed by David Lynch, despite all its bombastic melodrama and outlandishness. 

Having recently watched the new and exquisitely adapted Dune directed by Denis Villeneuve on HBO Max, I have found my passion reignited for all things Dune, so I’m finally getting around to reading more of the Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson tomes. It also left me hungering for more fantastic content to view. Fortunately, this isn’t the only work that’s slated to get the adaptation treatment this year, particularly in the streaming world.

Cast members of The Witcher stand in front of a blue map. The man in front has long white hair, black armor and a sword. One woman behind him has black furs and blowing black hair; the other woman has blond hair and wears a blue cape.

The Witcher by Andrzej Sapkowski, Season 2

Andrzej Sapkowski’s international best-seller series The Witcher came to Netflix toward the end of 2019. It was so successful it has since been greenlit for a second and now a third season. Season 2 debuts on December 17. You’ll find yourself in the continuing adventures of the Witcher Geralt of Rivia, played by Henry Cavill, as he embraces his new role as Princess Cirilla’s guardian. Season 2 essentially adapts The Blood of Elves, the first book in the five book Witcher Saga. There are three other books affiliated with the series that serve as prequels to the Saga, so Netflix has plenty of material to work with beyond a third season. Sapkowski excels at world building, and if you are looking for some fast-paced action, this series is for you. Don’t forget about the popular video games also based on these works.

A woman in a blue cloak stands in front of six others in Medieval dress, under a coiled dragon and a snarling sharp-toothed caped phantom.

The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson

Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series spans 14 books beginning with 1990’s The Eye of the World and ending with 2013’s A Memory of Light. Regrettably, Jordan passed away before he could finish his beloved series, so Brandon Sanderson took the Wheel and completed the last three books in the series with Jordan’s notes. 

Amazon Prime has adapted the first book and will debut the show on November 19. The Wheel of Time has been touted as one of the quintessential epic fantasy series. Join Rand Al’Thor and his friends on his adventures as he learns what the Wheel has in store for him.

I am currently reading the first book, and so far I’ve been deeply impressed by the level of detail Jordan employs in developing both his world and his characters. It has the feel of a wild ride to come. 

A black and white illustration shows a figure in a black toga, with sand running between the fingers of their right hand, while their left hand is raised to their mouth in a shushing gesture.

Sandman by Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman’s seminal graphic novel series Sandman is being adapted by Netflix. Gaiman is serving as executive producer, so with his involvement, it promises to be faithful to its source material. No release date has been given; however, there is teaser footage if you’d like to get a taste for the story. This series focuses on the character known as Dream, one of the seven Endless. We meet Dream as he is imprisoned by occultists in the early 1900s and follow him as he finally breaks free decades later. Sandman earned critical acclaim and falls into the dark fantasy genre. I found myself deeply appreciating the art as I was reading this series. The cast of characters who Dream encounters are just as realized as Dream himself. Be advised this graphic novel series has some very mature content which might not appeal to some readers.

An illustration of a man with a monkey on his shoulder and goggles pushed up on his head in front of a black letter Y.

Y: The Last Man by Brian K. Vaughan

Brian K. Vaughan’s Y: The Last Man is another graphic novel series getting the small screen adaptation treatment. 

FX on Hulu released the series on Sept. 13, following Yorick Brown and his pet capuchin monkey, Ampersand, as they navigate a world where a plague has wiped out all creatures with a Y chromosome, except for Yorick and his pet. This series also has very mature themes as well.

A blond woman in a beaded head dress and gold earrings stares into the camera.

House of the Dragon by George R. R. Martin

I can’t let this list go without mentioning House of the Dragon, the prequel series to HBO’s wildly successful Game of Thrones. Based off George R.R. Martin’s book Fire and Blood, it focuses on House Targaryen from its beginning to its end.  The show is in development and slated for a 2022 premiere.

A figure in a white cloak stands in front of a forested landscape and a sprawling white city in front of the setting sun.

Here are a few fantasy series that have already gotten the screen treatment or are currently in development for the screen:

Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien: Amazon Prime is currently developing this one, set to premiere on Sept. 2, 2022.

Foundation by Isaac Asimov: This premiered on Apple TV on Sept. 24.

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness: Sky One’s faithful adaptation has already covered the first two books, and book three should be coming in January, 2022.  AMC+ carries this series.

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo: Another Netflix offering with a second season in development

Broken Earth Trilogy and Inheritance Trilogy by N. K. Jemisin: These are still very early in development, and more news on them is greatly anticipated. 

These are just a few of the many series in development based off of various and sundry fantasy/science fiction titles. With the success of Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, HBO’s Game of Thrones, and the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it’s no surprise the market is finally meeting the demand of an audience eagerly waiting for their beloved content to be faithfully adapted for both big and small screen. As always, please check the Cedar Rapids Public Library catalog for any of these titles, most of which you should be able to find in print or in one of our e-resources. This fan is certainly looking forward to making the tough decisions on which to watch first. Time to turn the page or tune into the appropriate streaming service!

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