While most people think that the legacy of HBO’s Game of Thrones has been tarnished by the last season, its legacy in the world of film and TV is only just beginning to emerge. In the same way that Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy made people take comic book movies more seriously, David Benioff and D.B. Weiss’s adaptation of A Song of Ice and Fire made people take the adaptation of science-fiction and fantasy more seriously.
You might think that the huge critical and commercial success of the Lord of the Rings movies is what made fantasy popular. This isn’t true. Tolkien is, of course, the father of modern fantasy, but he’s also often put above the genre itself. New Line Cinema’s huge financial bet on the movies isn’t one that other moviemakers were willing to make on lesser writers. Then, Game of Thrones came along and proved that it was worth it for everyone, from movie studios to streaming companies, to spend a lot of money and hire the best people on the section of your local bookstore that sells swords and spaceships.
There is a big-budget remake of Dune this weekend. It is based on the book by Frank Herbert. Timothée Chalamet and Zendaya are the stars. The first season of The Wheel of Time, which is based on the 14-book series by Robert Jordan, will be on Amazon Prime Video next month. It has already been renewed for a second season. The first look at House of the Dragon, HBO’s Game of Thrones prequel, was released earlier this month. The teaser has been watched more than 13 million times in two weeks, which shows that people aren’t yet done with Thrones. Then there is Amazon’s new Lord of the Rings TV show, which is set a long time before Tolkien wrote the main books. It will start in September and there are already two seasons planned. These are just some of the best parts.
People today don’t need to read any of the books that inspired the sci-fi and fantasy shows they watch, because there’s so much of it to choose from. In other words, if you only read the screen-adapted versions, you’re not only missing out on the characters and plot lines that had to be cut and slashed to fit the story into a reasonable time frame (and a reasonable amount of CGI money), but you’re also missing out on the larger worlds that the authors had built.
Tolkien scholar Verlyn Flieger told me recently that words, which can be ambiguous and hard to understand, have more metaphoric and symbolic power than images. She doesn’t like movies based on Tolkien’s books. Unlike movies, the theater in a reader’s head has a cast of thousands. Actors in movies can be very effective, but they are limited by their own bodies, even with CGI and special effects.
The movies and TV shows about other worlds these days have made you want to experience that ambiguous and slippery world for yourself. We’ve got you covered with 12 of the best fantasy and sci-fi books for adults who may or may not have thought they’d ever be into fantasy and sci-fi books. In this list, we haven’t included some of the obvious choices like “The Hobbit,” “The Lord of the rings,” “A Song of Ice and Fire,” and “The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy.” Instead, we’ve included some of the novels that inspired these recent screen projects, as well as a number of recommendations from experts in the field.
Books That Are Being Adapted for the Screen
The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan
The Wheel of Time series is a favorite of mine that I’ve talked about before. It’s about a group of friends from a small town in the countryside who go on an epic fantasy journey that pits them against an ultimate evil called the Dark One. Rand al’Thor is the main character in this book, but the beauty of Robert Jordan’s story is that it has a cast of characters that would be impossible to fit into a single book (the main group runs the gamut from magic-wielding women to a man who can talk to wolves). Jordan died before he finished the series, so Brandon Sanderson wrote books 12 through 14. Sanderson is a well-known author and a fan of the series. On November 19, Amazon’s TV show starts.
The Fall of Gondolin by J.R.R. Tolkien
The Fall of Gondolin is one of the many posthumous works of J.R.R. Tolkien that his son, Christopher, has edited and published. It is the most recent story in a long line of works about Middle-earth. First Age: It takes place before the Lord of the Rings, which takes place in the Third Age. The story is about an Elvish city that is besieged by the evil overlord, called “Morgoth.” For people who are going to be watching Amazon’s new show in the Second Age when they read this book, it will give them great bookend perspective.
Dune by Frank Herbert
Dune is one of the best-selling sci-fi books of all time, and Frank Herbert’s work has been used as inspiration for everything from Star Wars to Game of Thrones. It’s also interesting that the book is often called “Game of Thrones in space.” Despite its success, it hasn’t become a part of the culture like other things of its kind. This is because the story, which takes place in the future on a number of planets, talks about important issues like politics, religion, and the environment. There are also fun things, like giant sandworms and the strange drug melange, or “spice.” The new movie by Denis Villeneuve comes out on October 22. There is a chance that there will be a second part that would finish the book’s story.
Fire & Blood by George R.R. Martin
A Song of Ice and Fire, the book series on which HBO’s Game of Thrones is based, might be too much for you. You might not be ready for it. Until now, the five books have more than 1.7 million words. People can’t do that, even if they’ve seen the show. That’s where Fire & Blood comes in. It’s a book that tells the history of House Targaryen (the ones with the dragons) before the TV show. The exact release date for this prequel hasn’t been set more than 2022. You have a long time to read the whole gory story.
Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor
Award-winning novel Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor combines science fiction and magical realism in a story set in post-apocalyptic Africa. The book is about two people who meet each other and fall in love. People in the Igbo language call the main character Onyesonwu, which means “who is afraid of death,” so the name comes from that. While there aren’t any plans to adapt it yet, HBO has bought the rights to it. George R.R. Martin will be the executive producer, and he’ll be in charge of the show.
Gormenghast by Mervyn Peake
This is what a 2014 Guardian article said: If The Lord of the Rings is the best-selling fantasy book of all time, Mervyn Peake’s Gormenghast trilogy is its counterpart. Peake is the “writers’ writer,” so his work will be treasured by a few and not known to the general public. To get into Castle Gormenghast, you need to read three books written by Peake while he was alive. There is also a novella and a fourth book that was written after Peake died. As of 2019, the show was on Showtime, and Neil Gaiman was one of the producers.
Time Salvager by Wesley Chu
Wesley Chu’s book, Time Salvager, may be too close to home for some people. Earth is a toxic zone, and people have fled to other planets. Here, time travel is possible, so it’s not too dark. When it was first written, it was supposed to be a three-book series. Only this and the second book, Time Siege, have been out. Expect to see this story again. In 2015, Michael Bay was hired to make a movie about the book.