What book: Mistborn is the most accessible entry point into Brandon Sanderson's Cosmere universe. That's right just about every single of the 17 series that Sanderson has written or announced are part of a larger interconnected universe. Kind of like a literary Marvel Cinematic Universe.
One of the things that make the Cosmere books stand out is the heavy rules and restrictions behind the magic. Often in fantasy, magic is used as a mcguffin to help characters out of a dilemma. By placing limitations on what characters can and can't do, you immediately have more ground for drama and conflict. In the Mistborn series, Allomancers burn through different metals that allows them to access their magic and increase their own mental and physical abilities.
The lead character of the first book in the Mistborn series is a 16-year-old thief and magic user named Vin. Vin's quest to bring down the evil "Final Empire" and discover who she truly is, gives us Arya Stark vibes and would make for some compelling on screen drama.
Television or Film: There's obviously a lot of world and magic building to be done. As we with a few of the "Phase 2" Marvel films, if you bog a movie down with too much set up, you're left with a hallow film going experience. Given the quality of premium cable and streaming services, Mistborn needs a series to do it justice.
Creative team: I've loved Jane Goldman's work on X-Men, Kick-Ass, and The Debt just to name a few. She can balance the fantastical with the human (X-Men), she's got a wicked sense of humour (Kick-Ass) and I would love to see her as a showrunner on a fantasy series that isn't a Game of Thrones prequel (snore).
What book: My most-wanted adaptation is a pretty big ask. Becky Chambers’ A Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet is an incredible space opera full wonderful characters that embody the ‘motley crew with a heart of gold’ trope that I love so much. As a young new clerk joins the crew of the Wayfarer, they are offered a dangerous but lucrative job: to tunnel a wormhole through space to a distant and treacherous system.
Television or Film: The first in her Wayfarers series, this book is prime for adaption in this great age of high-budget, high-concept SFF television; it has vast potential for a 12 x hour-long episode season per book that would fill the hole that Firefly has left in our collective consciousness. The warmth and strong relationships between the crew remind me of the reasonably-budgeted, fun SFF tv of my adolescence (think Farscape or Stargate SG-1), and I think this is why I would prefer a tv adaptation to a film, which would have to condense the slow build of trust – and love – between the characters, and also cut out some seriously cool science.
Creative Team: The casting potential is endless – I’d love to see Letitia Wright (Humans, Black Panther) as our protagonist, Rosemary; and I can only hear Dichen Lachman’s voice (Altered Carbon, Animal Kingdom) for Sissix – however the casting is one of the limitations to adapation, Sissix being a very tall reptile with clawed hands and brightly coloured feathers, and another crewmember is a Grum: a large, grey creature with six limbs of various functionality. That said, in the right hands, this would be unmissable watching.
What book: I know that just about everything Stephen King writes gets adapted to the screen, so maybe it’s a boring choice but The Outsider one of my favourite King stories I’ve read in ages, AND this baffling crime that treads the line between reality and the otherworldly lends itself perfectly to atmospheric and completely binge-worthy screen time.
Television or Film: There’s so much build-up of mystery, high drama, smoke and mirrors as well as this incredible sense you are really getting to know this small-town community and the fallout that this crime has on them that I think a film just wouldn’t be enough to tell the story as it should. The perfect adaptation for this would be a mini-series or a single season TV show amounting to about 6 hours of story time – think something like the HBO format of True Detective or Sharp Objects. I’m thinking high production, time to commit to the characters, build the tension to boiling point plus the gradual revelations that bring this story to its illuminating, thrilling conclusion.
Creative Team: Agh! So much good talent to make this a great show! The problem is who to choose. First off, I would choose Danny Boyle as director, he’s a master at creating tension and a feeling of surrealism in a way that is powerfully understated that I think would work really well for The Outsider. In terms of casting – there’s a lot of central characters, but for the very main people, I’d like to see Mark Ruffalo as Detective Ralph Anderson. I think he’d be great as the well-meaning detective who makes a huge mistake in the event of the impossible, Mary Elizabeth Winstead would make a great Holly Gibney – the very awkward but very astute PI that assists on the case. I think the Terry Maitland could be played by Edward Norton – he’s a great versatile actor that’s played a psychotic insomniac to an adorable camp leader – he’d be perfect for this role a man who is charged but we truly believe he is innocent. The second main victim, Claude Bolton, is an ex-criminal come-good – in terms of good-natured big-man, I think Dwayne Johnson might just fit the bill. It’s a mixed bag cast, but I think they all have the talent to bring together the show in a way that is not only interesting but also compelling and immersive.
What Book: Empire of Silence is the perfect source material to adapt because it melds typical sci-fi themes within a medieval hierarchy. Think Dune meets Game of Thrones or Star Wars crossed with Gladiator and you are close to the mark.
Television or Film: Given the quality of content from streaming services and prestige cable networks these days, I’d choose a series over a film. Empire of Silence is far too big a book to be condensed down to just one movie.
Creative Team: Stanley Kubrick. Who cares that he’s passed on? This is His attention to detail and ability to bring complex concepts to the screen would make him perfect for the job. And yes I know he is dead but I was asked to pick a director so I picked him.
What Book: Blood Song is your more traditional fantasy story with knights and sword fights. There are huge battles, sea battles, duels and an unknown evil. It also has some pretty unique magic. It starts with a young boy, Vaelin Al Sorna, being given to the Sixth Order to be trained in military arts. It explores themes of conflict, loyalty, and religious faith. It follows Vaelin from childhood to manhood as he becomes the greatest warrior of his age.
Television or Film: Blood Song is the kind of epic fantasy that would perfectly on the big screen. It works the archetypes of traditional fantasy so well, particularly the classic hero's journey that makes for a great popcorn flick experience.
Creative Team: Peter Jackson. Although not as epic as Lord of the Rings Blood Song would look great if Peter Jackson directed it. His vision for fantasy films and sweeping landscapes would be perfect for the job.
Guest Post from Books With Heart's Stacey
What book: Vigil is the first book in Angela Slatter’s Verity Fassbinder series. Set in a Brisbane full of mythic heroes and villains, Verity is a half-Weyrd peacekeeper tainted by the horrific crimes of her father years ago, and finds herself straddling the boundary between human and Weyrd, between investigator and criminal. The disappearance of Sirens and half-Weyrd children spooks the locals and Verity is tasked with piecing the puzzle together and stop any more of these violent deaths in the community. She’s Veronica Mars meets Buffy, and her smokin’ hot ex-boyfriend, who just happens to be her boss and a higher-up on the Weyrd chain of command, can’t seem to keep her out of trouble. He also has no idea what she sees in her incredibly normal, human boyfriend. (Spoiler: she met him at a library, CASE CLOSED.)
It’s a wry, pacey, and surprising novel, and Slatter’s writing is razor sharp. One thing I especially love about Vigil is that our heroine’s disability – she suffered a brutal injury in a previous case that has never healed right – realistically affects her methods of investigation, and when she’s on a case, she’s on it. Her romantic life doesn’t get in the way or overshadow her work. It’s, quite simply, fucking awesome to read about a woman whose love life isn’t a plot device used to distract from or become an obstacle to the end-goal.
Television or film: I see-saw about this honestly. There are currently three books in the series, and I think you could nicely fit each into a 2-hour film, however, there’d certainly be elements of the novel/s that would be left out to do this. I could see Verity’s stories really working as a TV show, which would certainly give a creator space to build the Weyrd into the Brisbane backdrop (and let’s be real, we all love a good bit of world-building in adaptations). Let’s go with TV for the full Weyrd experience.
Creative team: Of course I’m going in to bat for Australian creatives on this baby, and I would love to see Vigil live in the same stylistic space as Cleverman or Glitch. Louise Fox (who’s written for Glitch, The Kettering Incident, and Broadchurch) would be my first pick for the writer’s room, and Rachel Perkins (director of Mystery Road, Jasper Jones, Brand Nue Dae) would do a brilliant job bringing it to life, too.
Given the scope of diverse characters in Vigil, I’d just hope that any creative team’s make-up would be reflective of the content.
Enter the treasure chest that is Angela Slatter's magnificent mind!