Books and Movies, Movies and Books

Today marks the cinematic debut of The Hunger Games, and so I thought it might be appropriate to talk a bit about speculative fiction and media.  With Suzanne Collins’ book being the latest sf/fantasy YA to find its way to the big screen, with part I of The Hobbit soon to be making its debut and the Ender’s Game movie in the works, with A Game of Thrones enjoying a successful run on HBO, it seems that our genre has become part of the cultural mainstream.  The critical and (more to the point) financial success of the Lord of the Rings movies and the Harry Potter franchise has convinced Hollywood that fantasy can be an even bigger money maker for them than science fiction has been since the 1977 release of Star Wars.

No doubt other popular titles will soon be finding their way into movie form.  James Dashner’s The Maze Runner seems a likely candidate (and, in fact, an IMDB search turns up a listing for a Maze Runner project already in development).  And I can imagine several other titles making their way to the screen sometime soon, including Paolo Bacigalupi’s brilliant novel The Windup Girl.  I should add, for the record, that if any Hollywood producers are interested in turning any (all?) of my books into films, they should feel welcome to contact my agent.  Really.  Feel free.

So one question I would love to throw out to readers is this:  What other fantasy and science fiction projects would you like to see adapted to the silver screen in the near future?

Beyond that, though, I find myself wondering if the growing trend toward making films out of popular fantasy and SF novels is going to have an impact on the way books in the genre are crafted.  I don’t have an agenda here; I really don’t know what I think about this.  But I am curious.  I know that my current project, Thieftaker (written under the pseudonym D. B. Jackson, and due to be released in July) is probably more suited to adaptation than anything I’ve written before. Why?  A couple of reasons:  First, it’s a historical fantasy, set in our world, unlike my previous work which had been alternate world fantasy.  Second, while there are to be multiple volumes, each book stands on its own and has a satisfying ending.  Third, and this strikes me as most important, the books are relatively short compared to my past work.  For the record, this was not a conscious choice on my part, or an attempt to write a book that might attract movie producers.  Not at all.  I wrote the book I wanted to write, as I always do.  But I did wind up with a book that would work well in movie form.

Now, I realize that not all of these factors are necessary for books to be attractive to Hollywood producers.  The LOTR movies proved that alternate-world fantasies could work as feature films.  The Harry Potter movies suggest that novel length doesn’t have to be a problem for movie-makers (though I would argue that the longer books in the series didn’t translate as well to movies until the producers finally decided to split book 7 into two films).  And the Game of Thrones series proves that television may serve as a work-around for books that are too long to be made into films.

But I also think it bears mentioning that The Hunger Games and The Maze Runner (and Ender’s Game as well) are perfect for adaptation because they are somewhat shorter novels than, say, the novels of Robert Jordan, which have not yet been made into movies, despite their vast popularity.  And I would add that with urban fantasy and young adult books becoming such powerful forces in the speculative fiction marketplace, shorter novels set in (some version of) our world are becoming more prevalent.  I believe it likely that the growing popularity of urban fantasy and YA will show up more and more in cinema as well as books.  Again, these novels are shorter, they often have contemporary, real-world settings, and they tend to be written as stand-alones in serial form.  Each book has a beginning, a middle, and a satisfying ending; the movie versions would have the same.

In short, it seems to me that the market trends in fantasy and SF literature make it likely that the current boom in fantasy and SF movies will continue and expand.  And I wonder at what point one trend begins to influence the other.  As more YA novels enjoy success and find their way into movie form, will more and more authors be drawn to the YA market?  And is it possible that the popularity of urban fantasy will translate to the screen, and then, in turn, draw more writers to UF?  It seems possible to me, even likely.  What do you think?

So this weekend, as you sit and watch the story of Katniss Everdeen come to life on the screen, consider which of your current favorite books you’d most like to see as a movie.  It may well be that you’ll be seeing trailers for them sometime soon.

David B. Coe


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  1. 1. Daemon

    Hmm. Provided they are done by people who can actually respect the source material the two that spring immediately to mind are Clive Barker’s The Thief of Always and Branden Sanderson’s Allow of Law. Both would adapt well, and I could definitely see ToA being done to match the movie version of Gaiman’s Coraline. AoL would be tremendous eye candy, especually for the magic-fueled action sequences. It has all the makings for an awesome summer blockbuster.

  2. 2. David B. Coe

    Thanks for the comment, Daemon. I have to admit that I have not yet read either book, but I’m intrigued now and will put them on my to-read list. And then I’ll start thinking of suitable directors….

  3. 3. Keith W

    I would love to see any of Niven’s Known space stories done as films or you might even be able to build a TV series around known space itself! I must confess that when I (attempt) to write my stories, I seem to visualize it cinematic terms, but then it may be more of result that my ‘gateway drug’ to Science Fiction is Star Trek(the original series, but I confess I enjoy them all) so I have a more visual orientation to story telling. Oh, not to be too off topic, but is there an SFnal equivalent to ‘Urban Fantasy’? I’ve got three characters in my head that I am not sure what to do with. I want to do it in a contemporary setting, but I don’t want it to be about fantasy or paranormal stuff.

  4. 4. David B. Coe

    Keith, thanks for commenting. I think that visualizing our stories and books in cinematic terms can be a good thing, as long as we’re not writing them as movie project start-ups, if you know what I mean. It sounds to me like you’re writing the stories you want to write, but picturing them in your head in a cinematic context. Nothing wrong with that.

    In answer to your question, I’m not really sure. Maybe you need to coin a new term: Urban SF!

  5. 5. Durand Welsh

    I’ve always wanted to see Neal Asher’s ‘Cowl’ in the movies. Time travel, dinosaurs, secret agents…it’s perfect for CGI tom-foolery.
    I think it’s worth noting that two of the major series mentioned above were written by authors with screenwriting backgrounds — Suzanne Collins and George R.R. Martin. I’d imagine books written by writers with screenwriting experience would be naturally easier to translate to the screen.

  6. 6. David B. Coe

    Durand, that’s a fascinating point about Martin and Collins and their screenwriting experience. It hadn’t occurred to me, but I think you’re spot on. Thanks for the comment.

  7. 7. Victor Lomeli

    I really enjoyed the adaptation of THE HUNGER GAMES. It was great to have it shot on location something other than New York or Los Angeles, it made for a real experience. I have come to the conclusion that some novels are just to big for the screen.

  8. 8. Androw

    awesome read.

  9. 9. Clem Taylor

    I know we have enough Tolkien on the silver screen, but I’ve always wanted to see The Silmarillion made into a movie. But only by the right director. Peter Jackson handled the LOR franchise superbly (including editing. If he’d followed the books to the letter, each movie would have been 6 hours, not 3!). If he or someone of equal talent took on the work that introduced Middle Earth, long before Hobbits were in Eru’s eye, I’d be the first in line to see it.


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Author Information

David B. Coe

David B. Coe ( is the Crawford award-winning author of the LonTobyn Chronicle, the Winds of the Forelands quintet, the Blood of the Southlands trilogy, and a number of short stories. Writing as D.B. Jackson (, he is the author of the Thieftaker Chronicles, a blend of urban fantasy, mystery, and historical fiction. David is also part of the Magical Words group blog (, and co-author of How To Write Magical Words: A Writer’s Companion. In 2010 he wrote the novelization of director Ridley Scott’s movie, Robin Hood. His books have been translated into more than a dozen languages. Visit site.



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