Thoughtful Thursday: Favorite SFF Adaptations

Speculative fiction is a gold mine for content providers and streaming services. In the past ten years we’ve seen an explosion of adaptations of written-word works to the small screen in particular, and most particularly in the form of series.

The series almost never follows the book(s) exactly (movies don’t either) but the best of them capture the sensibility of the written story, and the characters.

Game of Thrones is probably the Monster King of this subgenre, but series like The Expanse and Outlander have done pretty well too.

Which is your favorite adaptation? Which adaptation are you most anticipating?

One commenter, chosen at random, will get a book from our Stacks.


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MARION DEEDS, with us since March 2011, is retired from a 35-year career with county government, where she met enough interesting characters and heard enough zany stories to inspire at least two trilogies’ worth of fantasy fiction. Currently she spends part of her time working at a local used bookstore. She is an aspiring writer herself and, in the 1990s, had short fiction published in small magazines like Night Terrors, Aberrations, and in the cross-genre anthology The Magic Within. On her blog Deeds & Words, she reviews many types of books and follows developments in food policy and other topics.

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14 comments

  1. SandyG /

    I haven’t seen it yet but I’m hoping to get a chance to see the Netflix adaptation of Dracula

  2. Noneofyourbusiness /

    The BBC serial adaptation of The Chronicles of Narnia from 1988 to 1990 was incredibly faithful. I watched reruns when I was a kid. Many years later, I recognized the music of Brideshead Revisited as being by the same composer right away.

  3. Sethia /

    I really enjoy The Magician. They stay true to the characters, but not necessarily the books.

  4. Both The Expanse and The Magicians have been fantastic in not slavishly following the source material and in doing so have found their own way to a kind of brilliance (it helps that both shows are focused so strongly on character). I’d also give a nod to Amazon’s The Man in the High Castle, if not quite as enthusiastically as the first two.

  5. John Smith /

    I very much like the 2006 mini-series “The Lost Room,” but I don’t see that it was adapted from anything. Let’s say Neil Gaiman’s 1996 “Neverwhere” mini-series, although the book apparently came out later that year. But both the show and the book were inspired by Gene Wolfe’s novel “Free Live Free,” which I don’t know anything about, so I guess the show does count as an adaptation. It’s all so confusing!

    I didn’t like the movie “Coraline” very much. It was icy and hard-edged and not very emotionally involving, while you can definitely feel the scariness in the book, I think.

    Oh, oh, oh: Here’s a great movie adaptation: 1988’s “Paperhouse,” based on the book “Marianne Dreams.” Apparently you can only watch it if you buy the English DVD and have your DVD player set up for being “region-free,” which I guess is what I did.

    • I absolutely loved Paperhouse and am always surprised at how few people have seen it

    • Noneofyourbusiness /

      In fact, the book came out four days after the first episode of the TV series, three days before the second. But the book is the more complete version. Although Neverwhere was influenced by Free Live Free in some aspects, it’s not an adaptation of it.

    • Noneofyourbusiness /

      There’s an American DVD of Paperhouse as of March 4 last year, paired with The Death of Richie.

      For region not to be a problem, a disc or player must come Region Free, you must attach an add-on player that plays another region, or you must perform a complicated procedure to modify your player, which you would probably know if you had. The product page for the UK disc of Paperhouse says Region 2 and they usually say if a disc is Region Free, though the Blu-Ray.com page says other regions are untested by Blu-Ray.com’s contributors for this disc.

      Marianne Dreams was also adapted into a children’s television drama series named Escape into Night.

  6. E. J. Jones /

    Are we allowed to say movies? My favorite movie is The Princess Bride. I actually think it improves upon the book, in some ways – the book is hilarious and worth a read or two, but it and its pseudo-William Goldman are a little too neurotic and self-editing to really let you love them. Goldman softened up when he wrote the screenplay for the film, and I think it looks good on him.

  7. Lady Morar /

    “His Dark Materials” on HBO has been really knocking it out of the park as an adaptation. The setting update to the modern day and other changes and expansions almost all work and add to the plot instead of taking away from it. So exciting to finally reach the end of the book “The Golden Compass” and have “The Subtle Knife” to look forward to.

    The film was quite good, too, despite not performing well; it’s just too bad they killed its box office performance and thus the possibility of a sequel by stupidly deleting the ending scene and switching around Bolvangar and Svalbard. And apparently the American audience wasn’t so receptive to its anti-religious themes at the time.

  8. I tend to shy away from adaptations for obvious reasons. The best I’ve seen all the way through is the HP movies. I couldn’t read the Expanse series (had trouble with the main character if I recall correctly) so I haven’t tried watching that. The Outlander series went in a different direction than the books and I didn’t like it though I really wanted to. The Witcher gets a lot wrong but the feel of the books is still there so it is an enjoyable one. The Princess Bride was absolutely better than the book. Didn’t like Game of Thrones or The Magicians in book form so haven’t tried watching those.

  9. The Distinguished Professor /

    The movie is a true classic, so it’s no wonder that when most people think “The Princess Bride” they think of it.

    I’ve found the Outlander series to be a worthy TV adaptation as TV adaptations go, and it got me interested in reading the novels in the first place.

  10. Mary Henaghen /

    I haven’t seen it yet, but I can’t wait for good Omens to come out on DVD so I can. I’ve heard so many great things about it and I love David Tennant. It’s my next must see TV.

  11. Mary Henaghen, if you live in the USA, you win a book of your choice from our stacks.
    Please contact me (Marion) with your choice and a US address. Happy reading!

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