Archive for the ‘Science Fiction & Fantasy’ Category

From MAD MEN to HANDMAID

Sunday, May 1st, 2016

9780385490818The streaming service Hulu has announced it is adapting Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale (Houghton Mifflin, 1986) into a 10-episiode drama. The news sent the novel rising on Amazon’s sales charts.

Elisabeth Moss, who made her name on Mad Men, will star. Atwood will serve as a consulting producer.

In a hulu press release Atwood says:

The Handmaid’s Tale is more relevant now than when it was written, and I am sure the series will be watched with great interest. I have read the first two scripts and they are excellent; I can hardly wait to see the finished episodes.”

The series is set to debut in 2017 and will be the second screen adaptation of Atwood’s dystopian novel. A 1990 film starring Natasha Richardson, Faye Dunaway and Robert Duvall told the story of a religious totalitarian state that controls women and their fertility. The scathing and grim novel has also been adapted into a graphic novel, an opera, and a ballet.

The novel won the inaugural Arthur C. Clarke award and was nominated for the Booker Prize and Nebula Award. In 2012, Atwood wrote an essay for The Guardian on the novel’s genesis and legacy.

CELL, the Trailer

Wednesday, April 27th, 2016

Two long-awaited Stephen King adaptations are scheduled for release next year. Yet another has just been announced for this year.

As the fan site Slash Film says, “Everyone has been so focused on the currently filming adaptation of The Dark Tower, the upcoming adaptation of It, and the ever-in-development big screen version of The Stand that we completely forgot that another Stephen King adaptation was on the way.”

Published in 2006, movie rights to Cell sold quickly but then the project bounced around to various studios and director.

There may be a reason this adaptation has been overlooked. Slashfilm describes the plot as “built around a ridiculous premise that feels like a parody of a Stephen King book … One day, everyone using a cell phone is driven insane and begins to viciously attack anyone near them … Cell is lesser King, but it’s gnarly and weird and a brisk read.”

It is set for release on Ultra VOD on June 10th before simultaneous theatrical and regular VOD release on July 8.

The trailer, starring John Cusack and Samuel L. Jackson has just been released. No tie-ins have been announced.

[UPDATE: Eerily, the Cell trailer seems to no longer be available. The YouTube link is here, but at the time of this posting, it didn’t work]

Hugo Awards Under Attack

Wednesday, April 27th, 2016

The finalists for the Hugo Awards, which along with the Nebula Awards are the Oscars of Science Fiction and Fantasy, have been announced. Among picks, controversy continues as the Rabid Puppies group seeks to stuff the ballot box once again. The result, claims George R.R. Martin on his blog is, “to say the least, a mixed bag. A lot of good books and stories, writers and artists… cheek by jowl with some stuff that is considerably less worthy.”

9780316246682_2dffb9780316229296_62f5a The Best Novel category seems to have escaped the takeover. The finalists are: Ancillary Mercy, Ann Leckie (Hachette/Orbit), The Cinder Spires: the Aeronaut’s Windlass, Jim Butcher (Penguin/Roc), The Fifth Season, N. K. Jemisin (Hachette/Orbit), the number one LibraryReads pick for May last year, Uprooted, Naomi Novik (PRH/RH/Del Rey), and  Seveneves, Neal Stephenson (HC/William Morrow), also a May 2015 LibraryReads pick.

9781401248963_423a7Other well-known and highly regarded names receiving nods include Lois McMaster Bujold (for Best Novella), Neil Gaiman (for Best Graphic Story), Stephen King (for Best Novelette), and Brandon Sanderson (for Best Novella). Star Wars and The Martian both got nods for for Best Dramatic Presentation (Long Form).

However, he full list of nominees reveals that the divisive gamesmanship continues. New Republic writes “The Hugo Awards are still a mess” and The Guardian reports, “the Puppies and their supporters have redoubled their efforts to ‘game”’the awards … out of 80 recommendations posted by [Rabid Puppies] 62 have received sufficient votes to make the ballot.”

Author John Scalzi, one of the newly announced Los Angeles Times Critics at Large and three-time Hugo winner is less concerned, writing for the paper he says that this year’s ballot stuffing was largely blunted in the big categories by more votes from the anti-Puppies side and that the Puppies can take little credit for successfully lobbying for titles already widely considered shoo-ins. The Puppies he says, are “running in front of an existing parade and claiming to lead it.”

Crime On The Moon: Andy Weir’s Next Book

Tuesday, April 26th, 2016

9781101903582_d0232In a science-focused interview with Smithsonian, Andy Weir, the author of the The Martian, offers fans a summary of his next book:

“The main character is a low-level criminal in a city on the moon. Her challenges are a mix of technical/scientific problems, as well as juggling personal interactions—staying a step ahead of the local police, working with shady and dangerous people to do illegal things … the story takes place in a future society where there is practically no sexism … [it is] another scientifically accurate story.”

In an earlier interview with HuffPost, Weir said to expect the novel in late 2016 or early 2017. He also revealed that he has pushed what was reportedly his next book, an epic entitled Zhek, to the back burner.

Hitting Screens, Week of April 4

Friday, April 1st, 2016

Outlander-Season-2-Image-Sam-Heughan-Catriona-BalfeThe adaptation news for the week is centered on the second season of Outlander, which is based on book 2 of Diana Gabaldon’s beloved and long running series, Dragonfly In Amber (PRH/Delacorte, 1992; Recorded Books; OverDrive Sample).

After waiting almost a year for the return of the show, and after leaving fans divided on how well or horribly season one concluded, all eyes now focus on the politics of warfare as Jamie and Claire travel to Paris in an attempt to stop the coming Jacobite rebellion.

Based on early coverage from EOnline!, the show is set to be a lavish, visual treat with even more gorgeous costumes and sets as the time-crossed lovers enter the Royal Court of France and host their own high-powered dinner parties. The site also reports that the massive and complex plot will be told in 13 continuous episodes rather than the divided 16 of season one (no midseason Droughtlander!).

9780399177682_fbce6A new tie-in edition celebrates the show’s long awaited return, complete with a cover shot that would be at home in Game of Thrones if it were set in the 18th century: Dragonfly in Amber (Starz Tie-in Edition), Diana Gabaldon (PRH/Bantam; also in mass market).

There are few reviews yet for the second season, which starts on April 9th but the show is already a proven winner. According to Entertainment Weekly, which pushed the series 2 opener in a cover story a few weeks ago, Outlander has made Starz the second-most popular premium network behind HBO and has also helped sell 5 million more copies of Diana Gabaldon’s books, raising the total to 27 million worldwide.

The reviews that do exist, such as one from TVLine which gives it a B+, explain that “Starz has put a pretty strict gag order on discussion of certain aspects of the upcoming season.”

Below is the official trailer followed by highlights of the new setting of season two.

ANNIHILATION, Closer to Screen

Thursday, March 31st, 2016

AnnihilationOscar Isaac has joined the cast of the film adaptation of the Nebula Award-winning novel, Annihilation (Macmillan/FSG; Blackstone Audio; OverDrive Sample), which already includes Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Gina Rodriguez, and Tessa Thompson.

Alex Garland will direct. This project reunites Garland with Isaac, who starred in the director’s Ex Machina. Vanity Fair enthusiastically endorses the project, saying,  it “was already shaping up to be another incredible bit of original, cerebral sci-fi long before Oscar Isaac joined the cast.”

Annihilation tells the story of Area X, an isolated landscape cut off from human occupation which nature has taken back. Previous expeditions to the area have been resulted in tragedy. A new all-female group, each is known not by name, but only by her profession, is set to try again. Natalie Portman plays the biologist, the story’s narrator, and Isaac will play the ghost of her dead husband, who was a member of a previous expedition.

Annihilation is the first book in The Southern Reach trilogy, completed by Authority and Acceptance, The news sent the book rising on Amazon’s sales rankings

The movie is expected to be released in 2017.

Casting Net: AMERICAN GODS

Friday, March 25th, 2016

AmericanGods_MassMarketPaperback_1185415388-2An adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s American Gods (HarperCollins/Morrow; a tenth anniversary edition is coming in August) has been inching towards the screen for five years and is now set to begin shooting next month, with expectations that the series will debut next year on the Starz network.

In the lead-up to production, a string of casting announcements have been released, including the leads, Emily Browning as Laura Moon and Ian McShane as Mr. Wednesday.

Meanwhile, some other Gaiman adaptations are in limbo. A film version of the Sandman graphic novel series (Vertigo) was set to be directed by Joseph Gordon-Levitt who would also star, but he recently left the project, over “creative differences.”

In 2013, it was announced that Ron Howard was in talks to direct The Graveyard Book and that Joe Wright was set to direct an adaptation of Gaiman’s adult novel The Ocean at the End of the Lane, but there has been no news on either since.

View from the Cheap SeatsGaiman is publishing a collection of nonfiction in May, The View from the Cheap Seats (HarperCollins/Morrow). According to the publisher, “the title piece, at turns touching and self-deprecating … recounts the author’s experiences at the 2010 Academy Awards in Hollywood,” when the adaptation of his childrens novel Coraline was nominated for Best Animated Feature.

Gaiman Girls at PartiesComing in June is a graphic novel version of Gaiman’s short story, How to Talk to Girls at Parties (Dark Horse). A film version began shooting in December starring Elle Fanning, Nicole Kidman, and Alex Sharp.

Expected for release in the UK this year, no US release date has yet been announced.

GAME OF THRONES, Season 6 Unplugged

Wednesday, March 9th, 2016

HBO has released a full-length trailer for the sixth season of Game of Thrones, premiering April 24.

As we reported earlier, this is the first season without a tie-in book. The first four seasons were fairly faithful to George R.R. Martin’s novels and all were released as tie-ins. Season five deviated from the book, but nonetheless A Dance with Dragons was released in mass market and trade paperback tie-in editions.

As Martin has famously not written beyond the current point of the HBO show, this season carries the story line beyond what readers know. That does not mean, however, that there are no book connections. The show runners are turning back to previous story lines in the books for at least some of this season’s events.

Both Vanity Fair and The Atlantic have snooped out the threads based on scenes unveiled in the trailer.

It seems parts of the known story surrounding the Greyjoy’s will play out. Vanity Fair spots trailer scenes depicting “the Kingsmoot, an epic-length event for the Ironborn, that sees them try to find a replacement king of the Iron Islands.”

The magazine also notes Ned Stark’s return via flashbacks that tell the story of Robert’s Rebellion and Ned’s battle to free his sister from the Tower of Joy.

The Atlantic picks up on the “power struggle among the Iron Islanders” as well as pointing out that a lot of book material supports “Arya’s continued life in the guild of assassins.” The magazine also reminds readers that Martin has supplied story outlines to showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss. So while they are definitely working without a net, they are not totally without guidance.

The Future of OUTLANDER

Sunday, February 28th, 2016

ew-cvr-1406-outlanderThe second season of Outlander, debuting, April 9 on Starz, is featured with a steamy photo on the cover of this week’s Entertainment Weekly, (and an even steamier one on the interior pages. Sorry, it’s not online yet), which belies the network’s reluctance to call the series a romance.

According to the story, Outlander has made Starz the second-most popular premium network behind HBO. It has also helped sell 5 million more copies of Diana Gabaldon’s books, raising the total to 27 million worldwide.

In a sidebar, Gabaldon says she is at work on book 9 in the series, which may be titled A Stubborn Mind. Refusing to say how close she is to finishing it, she notes it takes her three years to write a new book (the most recent in the series, Written in My Own Heart’s Blood was published in hardcover in 2014). Success takes a toll on writing time and “the more popular your books get, the mor popular you get.”

She also addresses how long the series will continue,  “I think 10 is probably as many as will take me to the end of Jamie and Claire’s lifetimes, because it’s their story. It ends when they do.”

Season two is based on the second novel in the book series, Dragonfly In Amber (PRH/Delacorte, 1992; Recorded Books; OverDrive Sample), which creates challenges for the show creators, says Entertainment Weekly, because it is “far more complicated structurally. It also alternates points of view and begins in the 1960’s with the introduction of Jamie and Claire’s adult daughter, Brianna,”

The first full-length trailer was released earlier this month.

Tie-ins (cover not final):

9780399177699_16a9f

Dragonfly in Amber (Starz Tie-in Edition)
Diana Gabaldon
PRH/Delta, March 8, 2016
Trade Paperback

Spielberg Finds His PLAYER

Thursday, February 25th, 2016

Screen Shot 2015-09-15 at 10.04.11 AMTye Sheridan is now “near the top of young actors to watch,” according to Deadine as a result of being selected by Steven Spielberg for the lead in his adaptation of Ernest Cline’s debut Ready Player One, (RH/Crown; Random House Audio/BOT). Deadline adds, “For Sheridan, it’s the latest in a short career full of landing showy roles.”

It’s been a fairly long search for the lead. According to the Hollywood Reporter “Sheridan’s casting comes after numerous waves of searches dating back to fall 2015. Spielberg read and tested across several continents but was never quite happy. In an unusual situation, the romantic interest [Olivia Cooke] and the villain [Ben Mendelsohn] were picked even as the lead role remained vacant.”

Spielberg is currently at work on Roald Dahl’s The BFG, set to open July 1, and is expected to follow up with Player One.

To date, Sheridan has received the most acclaim for his role in Mud, with Matthew McConaughey. He is featured in the trailer, below (he’s the boy with the longer brown hair). An extended 10minute preview is here.

Sheridan will next appear as Cyclops in the upcoming X-Men: Apocalypse and in the adaptation of The Yellow Birds, also set to be released this year.

Ready Play One was recently bumped from its original fall 2017 slot to March 30, 2018, so it won’t be overpowered by  Star Wars Episode VIII.

MORNING STAR Is #1

Sunday, February 21st, 2016

Red Rising  golden-sun  morning-star_612x931

The third book in Pierce Brown’s Red Rising trilogy, Morning Star (PRH/ Del Rey) debuts at #1 on the 2/28 New York Times Hardcover Fiction Best Sellers list, More significantly, it’s also #1 on the USA Today list, outselling books in all categories and formats.

Interest is growing in the series. The previous two titles debuted in lower positions. Golden Son arrived at #6, dropping down to the extended list the next week. Red Rising debuted was on the extended list for three weeks. It was a #1 LibraryReads pick.

Brown is at work on another trilogy, titled Iron Gold, reports USA Today. It picks up after Morning Star, but focuses on different characters.

A movie adaptation of Red Rising is in the works. In an interview earlier this month, Brown said it is in development with World War Z director Marc Forster. Don’t expect it any time soon, however. Brown says, “we’re not trying to do a rushed job of this. I did the first two drafts and my buddy is doing a new draft.”

SF To The Rescue

Thursday, February 18th, 2016

9780307887443_cd74cReady Player One by Ernest Cline (RH/Crown; Random House Audio/BOT; OverDrive Sample) rose on Amazon’s sales rankings overnight, likely due to a NYT’s article on how Science Fiction expands the creativity of engineers and coders working on virtual reality (VR).

While techies can engineer VR headsets, they don’t really know what kinds of experiences to create for them or how to explain the technology in a way that makes people buy headsets with iPod-esque frenzy.

CEOs of tech companies are turning to SF for help, hoping the genre will expand the creativity of their staff and illustrate the possibilities and range of virtual worlds that might be possible. According to the article:

“Science fiction is shaping the language companies are using to market the technology, influencing the types of experiences made for the headsets and even defining long-term goals for developers.”

The tech world’s book of choice is Ready Player One, which is given to new hires at Oculus, a leading VR company. Co-founder Palmer Luckey told the NYT,

“Like many other people working in the tech space, I’m not a creative person. It’s nice that science fiction exists because these are really creative people figuring out what the ultimate use of any technology might be. They come up with a lot of incredible ideas.”

In addition, the company Magic Leap has hired three science fiction and fantasy writers, most notably Neal Stephenson, who imagined the virtual reality Metaverse in the novel Snow Crash.

The article asserts, “Virtual reality is a medium, like television or video games.”

Game On

Monday, February 15th, 2016

MV5BMTYwOTEzMDMzMl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNzExODIzNzE@._V1_UX182_CR0,0,182,268_AL_The newest Game of Thrones teaser has been released, promoting the April 24th return of the series.

Fans are on edge for the premiere, hoping to discover if the beloved character Jon Snow really died at the end of season five.

Viewers will find no comfort in the newest teaser, a clip that certainly lives up to its name and taunts fans. As Deadline puts it, “HBO Trolls Hard On Jon Snow’s Fate.”

Definitely missing this season is a tie-in book. The first four seasons were fairly faithful to George R.R. Martin’s novels and all were released as tie-ins. Season five deviated from the book. Nonetheless, A Dance with Dragons, was released as mass market and trade paperback tie-in editions.

But Martin has famously not caught up with the series. Book six is not completed, leading even Conan OBrien to speculate last week on what the author has been doing instead of writing

Later for PLAYER ONE

Wednesday, February 10th, 2016

Ready Player OneIf you already felt it’s a long wait for Steven Spielberg’s movie adapation of Ready Player One by Ernest Cline (PRH/Crown), that wait just got longer.

Originally scheduled for release on Dec. 15 of next year, the date has now been moved to March 30. 2018, bumped by Star Wars Episode VIII.

ARMADA-paperback-lgCline published a second book in the series, Armada, last July and has signed with Crown to write a third. Title and release date have not yet been announced.

The trade paperback edition of Armada will be released in April, with a new cover (called “kick-ass” by the author).

More STAR WARS

Tuesday, February 9th, 2016

Even as newest Star Wars film, The Force Awakens, continues to do well at the box office, more Star Wars books are on the way.

Of course, the novelization of the movie appeared in print after the movie’s release and immediately shot up best seller lists.

There are 30 or so years between the time periods of the movies Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens, leaving plenty of time for writers to fill in. In September, Chuck Wendig published a bridge book, Star Wars: Aftermath, which debuted at #4 on the NYT Best Seller list in September.

9780345511362_5f494The next title to watch is Star Wars: Bloodline by Claudia Gray (PRH/Del Rey/ LucasBooks; Random House Audio/BOT), coming in May.

The main character in Bloodline is Leia Organa and, unlike Aftermath, it is set closer to the time frame of The Force Awakens.

USA Today showcases the cover and posts an excerpt. Interviewing Gray, the paper reports that the novel tells the story of “how far Vader’s shadow falls” and how far Leia has come, “the role she’s created for herself since the fall of the Empire, and the one she takes up by the time of (The Force Awakens).

9781484724989_5945a  9781101966938_7f47b

Gray is no stranger to the Star Wars universe, having also written Lost Stars (Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens) (Hachette/Disney Lucasfilm Press; OverDrive Sample; Sept 2015).

The second in Wendig’s Star Wars trilogy, Life Debt: Aftermath, comes out in July.