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Tuesday, November 19, 2019

New sci-fi and fantasy books on a screen near you

It's no secret that huge demand for television and film content means a lot of stories we've previously seen only inside books are now appearing on screens big and small.

This fall, a number of reader favorites in science fiction and fantasy have made the transition from page to screen. Philip Pullman's The Golden Compass, already a feature film, gets a TV remake in season 1 of His Dark Materials but still retains the armoured bears. Watchmen—the TV show—begins after the graphic novel left off. And the #SaveTheExpanse movement sees the fruit of its labors in season 4 of the show based on the sci-fi series by S.A. Corey.

Want to read the book first? Here's where to start.

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Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons

The small-screen version that riffs off the iconic graphic novel Watchmen reached HBO subscribers in October. Promising that the show “embraces the nostalgia of the original groundbreaking graphic novel of the same name, while attempting to break new ground of its own,” Watchmen (on TV) is set 30 years after the graphic novel’s time period. In both, we're living in an alternate time line. Read the original by Moore and Gibbons to really dive deep into this crazy, mixed-up world. (First episode: October 20)

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His Dark Materials: The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman

Set in a world like our own but not, Philip Pullman’s books—now turned into an HBO series—follow the adventures of Lyra, an orphan raised among scholars but who has the heart of an adventurer. When she finally leaves her sanctuary with her daemon friend, Pan (so cute!), and a mysterious alethiometer that can answer any question she asks it, the journeys ahead prove to be more harrowing than even Lyra expects. (First episode: November 5)

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Star Wars: The Bounty Hunter Code by Daniel Wallace, Ryder Windham, and Jason Fry

I’m not in any way suggesting that this book is the creative genesis for Disney+’s new series The Mandalorian, but those who want to learn more about Mandalorian helmets, beskar (Mandalorian metal), or the meaning behind the Mythosaur skull sigil will find much of interest in this guide written for the bounty hunters' guild. Plus handwritten notes in the margins from Boba Fett and others provide entertaining insights. (First episode of The Mandalorian: November 12)

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Cibola Burn (The Expanse Book 4) by James S.A. Corey

The Expanse returns for season 4 on December 13, and you’ll now find it on Prime Video, after Jeff Bezos swooped in to save the show when Syfy decided not to continue with it. The crew of the Rocinante are now on a mission from the UN to explore beyond the Ring Gate, where thousands of planets lie, ready to be fought over by those from Mars, Earth, and the Belt. Look back here on the Amazon Book Review in mid-December for our interview with the authors of the books and the cast of the show. (December 13)

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Blood of Elves (The Witcher Book 1) by Andrzej Sapkowski

Starring Henry Cavill (Man of Steel), this Netflix Original series is based on the best-selling novels by Andrzej Sapkowski, which also inspired the video game. Geralt of Rivia is a monster hunter, but too often the real monsters are the humans who want to steal others’ power. Geralt’s long white locks will probably look amazing when he’s twirling around during swordplay, but I’m hoping there’s at least one scene in which he rocks a man-bun. (December 20)

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The Knife of Never Letting Go (Chaos Walking Book 1) by Patrick Ness

There’s actually no release date yet set for Chaos Walking, the film version of The Knife of Never Letting Go. But the film has been shot, and scenes were even reshot this year with stars Tom Holland (Spider-Man) and Daisy Ridley (Star Wars). (Finding time in those actors’ busy schedules for reshoots must’ve been a Herculean job.) While you wait for the film, do pick up Patrick Ness’ fascinating novel about a young man who lives on a planet called New World, where the women have died off and the men (and dogs) can hear each other’s thoughts due to a virus called the Noise. Then Todd finds in the woods a being whose thoughts he cannot read: a girl. (no release date but fingers crossed for 2020)

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