Stories that Need “Good” TV Adaptations 

We are nothing short in consuming visual content. The gloves are off, premium cable channels and streaming services are gambling on developing series after series, hoping to forge a new blockbuster binge-hit. Now, with HBO’s Game of Thrones ending in possibly two years from now, networks are scrambling to get the next new thing to bank on audiences’ fantasy withdrawal.

The echoes that Game of Thrones will be leaving behind is going to have a ripple effect, networks are bracing for it. It’s an opportunity ripe for the picking. Networks don’t even need to gather creative writers and lock them up in a room until they come up with something fresh. There are hundreds of stories out there scattered in different mediums that networks could license and adapt into a TV series.

We’ve all heard that FX will be adapting Welcome to Night Vale podcast into a TV series. Showtime and Lionsgate, with Lin-Manuel Miranda, will be working on The Kingkiller Chronicles by bestselling (and sometimes Twitch streamer) author Patrick Rothfuss. Margaret Atwood’s 1985 dystopian novel, The Handmaid’s Tale is receiving praises all over. And Netflix is doing a series based on Richard K. Morgan’s science-fiction novel Altered Carbon, and former My Chemical Romance front man, Gerard Way’s Eisner Award-winning graphic novel, Umbrella Academy. A Song of Ice and Fire (Game of Thrones) author, George RR Martin, is producing a post-apocalyptic series, for HBO, that is based on the multi award-winning novel Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor.

That’s just the gist of things.

Earlier this this year Amazon has announced plans to adapt multiple science-fiction novels into TV series. These include Larry Niven’s Ringworld, Neal Stephenson’s cyberpunk Snow Crash, and Greg Rucka’s Lazarus.

This sounds great and all, until Amazon then announced they will also be working on a prequel series of The Lord of the Rings. This is where people started getting twitchy. As interesting as that sounds, it’s just as dismaying. LOTR may have a millennia-worth of content that can fulfill, maybe three billion seasons (an exaggeration), but we have Peter Jackson’s adaptations of both The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. Might be best to just leave Middle-earth alone, but we’ll hold off any real criticisms until we see the final product at hand.

Television viewing is fickle thing. It’s not as simple as flipping through pages of a book or listening to a podcast while on-the-road. In TV, there’s simpler pleasures of watching things unravel without concentration as deep as reading or listening. If networks would want to play it safe, then what better way than pick up established titles that already has the much needed fan base? It then becomes a question in how to maintain that momentum and how to ensure the fans remain loyal to the series and keep on drawing in an even larger crowd.

This leads us, finally, to stories that need “good” television adaptations. Cause baby, there’s a lot out there.

Legion by Brandon Sanderson

Protagonist Stephen Leeds has what other people might call, multiple personality disorder. However, unlike the 2010 TV series Shattered, where the main character changes personality in order to adapt to his environment, Stephen Leeds’ multiple personalities manifest as different individuals that only he can interact with. He calls them aspects, and each aspect has a personality, ethnicity, specialty, gender, and one of them even has his own aspect. What’s crazier here is his aspects can interact with each other, two are even implied to be having sex whenever Leeds is not looking. It’s these aspects that Leeds manages to solve crimes and he can only bring a few aspects on each case. All this aspect business gets more complicated but there’s no doubt there’s a solid foundation for a police procedural series here.

The First Law by Joe Abercrombie

There is a lot to love in Joe Abercrombie’s grimdark fantasy trilogy, The First Law, which begins with The Blade Itself. There’s a lot of action, intriguing-but-not-so-likeable characters, politics, and a march to the north. There’s enough material here for at least three seasons, and if you include Abercrombie’s other standalone novels, Best Served Cold, Red Country, and the mighty impressive Heroes, the short story collection Sharp Ends, which all take place in the world of The First Law with some returning characters, this could stretch up to eight delightfully macabre seasons.

The Broken Empire by Mark Lawrence

The Broken Empire is unique in two ways. It’s set in a fantasy world and as we ride farther into mythos, we begin to realize through subtle hints that this isn’t the case. Refer to this to get a clue, though mild spoilers. The trilogy is also unique because, the first book Prince of Thorns, introduces the series protagonist, Jorg, who at the ripe age of 14 has done every unspeakable acts against humanity. Yes, every single one you can ever think of. He’s only 14, if I forgot to type that in. Yet, despite being the devil that he is, Lawrence manages to craft a sympathetic and complex character. The series progress as Jorg reaches adulthood, ascending the throne that he reclaimed by spilling blood with swords and literally nuking an entire castle.

The Prince of Nothing by R. Scott Bakker

Alright, I’ll admit to being one of those who couldn’t stand the books. Author Bakker couldn’t describe a rock being just a rock and has to point out that a rock is made up of microscopic minerals super condensed over eons perhaps since before the Apocalypse. I’m not even exaggerating. However, the world Bakker has created makes for excellent TV material, something more suited for Netflix than HBO. It focuses on deep philosophical questions, complex cultures, and elaborate histories. It’s also gritty and full of stabbing.

The Fifth Season by NK Jemisin

Until writing this article, I hadn’t learned that this award-winning novel, The Fifth Season is now actually being optioned for a TV show. The Fifth Season is a story about how the apocalypse is a normal recurring thing, and actually the least interesting thing happening in the books. Also, Jemisin has a Twitch channel.

S-Town podcast

One of the most delightful podcasts I have listened to in the year. As a limited series, this can become one of those gems that really shine. It’s non-fiction, a reporter gets a tip about a murder in an Alabama town and the alleged murderer gets to brag about it without repercussions. The reporter and narrator of the podcast, Brian Reed, goes to investigate, records his conversations with the people of “Shit Town” and gets a little involved in matters better left alone. Things begin to escalate in ways you think would only happen in fiction stories.

Alice Isn’t Dead podcast

If you don’t know, the Night Vale podcast has a spinoff, sort off. Alice Isn’t Dead is a serial fiction podcast about a woman searching for her wife, who may or may not be dead. The woman encounters serial murderers and finds towns literally lost in time. She unfolds conspiracies and survive horror stories. It’s a thing of beauty.

Orbiting Human Circus (Of the Air) podcast

As part of the Night Vale Presents network, the Orbiting Human Circus is about stage performers. It’s full of whimsical fun and heartfelt moments from stories shared by the show’s guests. But the main attraction, is Julian, the janitor, and his subconscious, with their comic adventures. It’s weird, it’s funny, it’s sad. It’s everything you would feel if you were part of the circus audience.

Worm by Windbow aka John McCrae

What started out as fiction published in WordPress has turned into something that created a massive fan base. It’s a superhero story, and, according to a Google search, has about 7,000 words. What McCrae did here, is create his own superhero universe that rivals both Marvel and DC.

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