During the last several years adaptations of fantasy and science fiction stories have taken off in a big way. As is the case when anything goes “mainstream”, the original fans have often been disappointed by the results. That’s not to say that no good has come of it. Game of Thrones kept us enthralled until the last season let us down. The Wheel of Time TV series debuted to strongly mixed reactions from fans of the books, and we are still anticipating the release of Amazon’s Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power. I’m not sure how I feel about that last one, but I think Tolkien would approve of the title since anything with a colon sounds like a scholarly article.
At this point, I think we all feel a mixture of excitement and trepidation when adaptations of our favorite books are announced. Sometimes it’s nice to take a step back from the often disappointing reality of adaptations and fantasize about our own “perfect” versions.
Here, in no particular order, are my adaptation fantasies. Please comment and let me know what yours are.
The Children of Hurin by J.R.R Tolkien as a Play
Because who says that adaptations have to be on screen, some stories are made for the stage, and this is one of them. It has all the drama and tragedy of Shakespeare’s best works and doesn’t need crazy special effects. I’d also pay big money to see Turin’s story made into an opera, preferably by a resurrected Puccini. Bonus points if it’s in Elvish.
The Silmarillion by J.R.R Tolkien as an Animated Series
I know that live-action is all the rage right now, with Disney turning animated films into live-action ones, but animation is just better for some types of stories. To tell The Silmarillion the way it should be told, the adapters need to be able to work without the budgetary and logistical concerns inherent to live-action productions. Sometimes fantasy stuff looks more realistic animated than it does with practical or computer effects.
Yes, technically we have the technology to make it look good, but realistic computer animation that looks right in a live-action film is so expensive that it often ends up being half-assed and not looking great. Or, the story is changed to require fewer effects-heavy creatures and scenes. In an animated Silmarillion, we could see armies of Balrogs and other First Age shenanigans just as they are described in the book. We already have gorgeous examples of First Age animations by artists like Ted Nasmith and Alan Lee. I’d also accept a simpler form of animation as long as it had the right “feel.”
A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine As A Movie or TV Series
This book and its sequel, A Desolation Called Peace, are the most standout fantasy books I’ve read in years. I’d love a faithful adaptation of some kind to watch. I think these could be successful as live-action, but I’d also enjoy a well-done animation. Thanks to Martine’s descriptions, I have an amazing picture of Teixcalaan in my head, and it would be neat to see other interpretations on screen. I’d also love to hear the poetry in the book read out loud by someone who knows what they are doing.
A TV Series Inspired by The Lies of Locke Lamora
I loved the Lies of Locke Lamora, the first book in the Gentleman Bastards series by Scott Lynch. The characters, particularly Locke and Jean, were what made these books fun. The deeper, darker plot that became more evident in the sequels always felt a little out of place to me, and I never could get into it.
I would happily watch a show that covered the first book pretty faithfully and then branched off and became a heist-of-the-week type thing with some kind of overarching plot, but nothing too serious. There is something to be said for fantasy stories that are just fun, and I think this one has that potential.