I recently found out that one of my favourite books as a child, Mortal Engines by Phillip Reeve, was being adapted for the screen. Mortal Engines is the first book in a quartet. It is set in a post-apocalyptic world where cities are moving and chase each other, trying to capture the other for their resources. I knew the rights had been sold several years ago, but nothing ever happened. Then, recently, I heard about casting news and that filming was scheduled for March 2017. Que me jumping for joy.
This made me think, what other great stories would I like to see adapted for screen or TV:
The Edge Chronicles by Paul Steward and Chris Riddell
The Edge Chronicles were my go-to book series as a kid. Set in a fantasy world, The Edge is a giant overhanging cliff filled with a vast array of creatures. There are multiple trilogies, each focusing on the story of a single character and a certain time period. I found myself lost in the complex, intricate world of The Edge and loved it characters, who were always relatable. The books tackle some difficult themes – displacement, prejudice, greed, loneliness, war – and this was some of the first times I read issues like this in a series. The writing is also accompanied by Chris Riddell’s illustrations, which I found a joy, especially as they match so well with the unique characters from the Edge.
The Edge Chronicles may actually have a chance of adaptation as both of its creators have shown enthusiasm for this to happen. Also, there are four trilogies in the series, along with stand-alone books, which provides a wealth of material to create a franchise. Although the franchise started nearly twenty years ago, its still going strong today with the most recent book being published this year. However, whether that ever happens is still on the cards. Adapting this in live action would require a large budget (all those fantasy creatures) so I wonder if it does get adapted whether animation would be the best route.
The Deptford Mice Trilogy (and The Deptford Histories) by Robin Jarvis
Another series from my childhood, I borrowed the first book from this series from my sisters and immediately loved it. The Deptford Trilogy is a fantasy novel that focuses on a collection of house mice that encounter evil rats, magic and old gods. The fact that the main characters are mice might make you think this is a light-hearted book, but you’d be wrong. This book is dark. Have a favourite character you like? They’ll either die or have something horrible happen to them. The Deptford Histories, which doesn’t fare much better in the grim-dark stakes, are prequels. For example, the first book focuses on the origins of the villain Jupiter who appears in the main trilogy.
These will never be adapted, I think they are way too dark for any studio to be brave enough to adapt (there’s a straight up massacre in one of the books). Once, I did see a stage adaptation of the first book. However, I noticed they lightened the tone. Even a stage company didn’t feel brave enough to tackle the darker aspects of the book. Also, the first book was published in the 1980s. Nothing has been published for a while so it doesn’t have a current audience to watch it. The author has hinted in the possibly of the story continuing, but it has never been realised.
Monstrous Regiment by Terry Pratchett
This book is part of The Discworld series but can be read as a stand-alone book. You don’t need to know much about Pratchett’s giant fantasy world or have read anything else in the series to enjoy this book (but you might get a few more of the jokes). Like most Terry Pratchett novels, Monstrous Regiment is full of humour, satire and issues mirrored from real-life. It follows the story of Polly, a girl stuck in an era of war, who disguises herself as a boy so she can enlist as a soldier in her father’s and brother’s stead. In this book, I loved the characters and that, underneath all the humour, there was a deep, analytical look at the horrors and consequence of war.
A few of the stories from Discworld have been adapted. These adaptations have revolved around characters would appear in more than one Discworld novel (Death, Rincewind, Moist Van Lipwig). Also, there have been talks a TV series is being adapted centred around the Watch characters (the police force in one of Discworld’s biggest cities). However, I’m not sure whether Monstrous Regiment will ever be adapted. it is not the most popular book in the series (even if it is mine) and the story is stand-alone rather than continuous.
Fables by Bill Willingham and Mark Buckingham
Fables was the first series that got me into comics. Set in New York, the story focuses on fairy tale characters who have come into our world to escape the mysterious ‘Adversary.’ Fables strength is in its ensemble cast, character development, and extensive world-building. I’m still reading Fables now and am looking forward to readings its other side-stories, especially Fairest – which focuses on the women of Fables.
Fables has had a few false starts in getting adapted It was been picked up by not one but two tv studios, but both dropped it. One ended up making Grimm, whilst the other made Once Upon a Time, both stories inspired by fairy tales. There was also talk of a film adaptation, but this appears to have been dropped for now. I’m happy that nothing came of the movie adaptation as I think the format is terrible for film. Fables focuses on a vast array of characters and, if turned into a film, this would have to be sacrificed. The film would lose a great ensemble of side characters and potentially miss on much-needed character development. Also, I feel a film wouldn’t be able to portray Bigby Wolf’s (the anti-hero of the story) complex character due to time constraints. Bigby is gruff and can be amoral, but can also be sensitive and a massive dork. I would hate to lose that. I would much prefer it if Fables was adapted for TV.
Saga by Brian Vaughan and Fiona Staples
I love Saga, but it’s difficult to explain, but I’ll give it a try. Saga is like Romeo and Juliet, but instead of dying the loved-up couple have a baby and go on a road-trip into space. It is a sci-fi adventure which messes with the theme of war. However, it also juggles this with emphasis on relationships, family, friendship and parenthood. My favourite thing about the series is its complexity, especially morally grey characters that are all fully-developed. I also love how characters and their development can be portrayed solely through the art, without words, which is wonderfully drawn.
I think Saga might never be adapted, just because how bat-shit crazy it can be. Some of the different species in it are hard to swallow for a mainstream audience. People may have embraced more out-there stuff like Guardians of the Galaxy recently, but Saga is in its own league. There is also the fact that Saga would require a massive budget to make. Like Fables, I would rather Saga be turned into a TV show. Saga does have a core set of characters, however, there are a lot of side characters that get developed and are essential to the story. In the film, these characters could potentially be lost to the main characters due to time restrictions.
I can see a pattern in the things that I want to be adapted, all have quite dark aspects to them, but contains elements of humour as well. I love my well-developed characters and complex storylines. If any of these every gets adapted I will be dancing for joy, like Mortal Engines, but, for now, I’ll have to wait.