Last month alone, the Syfy Channel debuted big-budget adaptations of Arthur C. Clarke’s classic Childhood’s End, James S.A. Corey’s Expanse series, and Lev Grossman’s The Magicians. They are clearly trying to win back our SF/F-obsessed hearts,, but they’re not the only network that will be working hard for that sweet, sweet geek cred (and cash) in 2016. If history is any guide, some of these new series will be disappointments, and some won’t last. Nevertheless, they have one thing in commons: they’re all based on great books. Here’s the scoop on the novels coming to the screen this year.
The Magicians (December 2015/January 25)
Syfy’s renewed commitment to nurturing high-end SF/F is laudable, not to mention exciting. The Expanse is already looking like a winner, and we’ve got high hopes for thier adaption of Lev Grossman’s trilogy about a troubled young man who discovers that the fantasy world of his favorite books is a real place, and learns that finding out magic is real doesn’t solve his problems. The pilot aired a sneak preview last month, with the a two-hour premiere scheduled for January 25.
The Shannara Chronicles (January 5)
Terry Brooks’ long-running series (a couple dozen novels and counting) will offer MTV plenty of material to adapt. The books are set in the post-apocalyptic future of our world in which the remnants of human technology mingle with magic. The two-hour pilot aired a few days ago, and we liked what we saw.
Lucifer (January 25)
This sounds like it’s going to be a relatively loose adaption of Mike Carey’s book, which was itself spun off from Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman. In the Fox series, Lucifer abandons his kingdom to help the LAPD solve crimes. I’m not sold on the police-procedural angle, but maybe this will fill the Constantine-sized hole in our TV-loving hearts.
Shadowhunters (January 12)
Cassandra Clare’s YA/urban fantasy Mortal Instruments series, about teenagers with angelic powers, is action-packed and soapy. There’s also a fairly expansive mythology involved, so it could make a pretty good TV show if done right. Fingers crossed it connects with audiences a bit better than the film.
Legends of Tomorrow (January 21)
Marvel’s ruling the box office lately, but DC is doing rather well on TV. This Flash/Arrow spin-off features a team of heroes and villains burying the hatchet in order to pursue immortal villain Vandal Savage through time. Looks like a lot of fun, and should put a science-fiction spin on the superhero formula.
Luke Cage (mid-2016)
Daredevil and Jessica Jones were pretty brilliant, so hopefully Netflix can keep it going. Luke Cage is a fugitive ex-con with superhuman strength fighting crime in Harlem. There hasn’t been a whole lot of color in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and this will be the first show or movie to be headlined by a black character (at least until Black Panther comes out). Iron Fist is on the horizon as well, but probably not until 2017. (Meanwhile, Daredevil returns March 25.)
Based on one of Vertigo Comics’ best (and most controversial) series, it’ll be interesting to see just how closely this AMC show hews to the source material. The story is about a conflicted pastor who becomes bonded with the offspring of an illicit union between an angel and a demon, and then takes off across America to find God.
If you’ve ever heard of a little TV show called The Walking Dead, you’ll understand why Cinemax didn’t waste much time in putting together an adaptation of Robert Kirkman’s latest comic series. With any luck, it’ll do for demonic possession what Walking did for zombies.
American Gods (late-2016)
Bryan Fuller, the producer behind Pushing Daisies and Hannibal, is heading up the adaption of Neil Gaiman’s modern fantasy novel, and I’m not sure that there’s a better choice to bring such delicate material to the small screen. On the other hand, Fuller’s shows tend to struggle in the ratings. Hopefully this one will be an exception.
There’s a lot more in the pipeline for early next year as well: in particular, Kim Stanley Robinson’s Mars series is coming to Spike (believe it or not) in early 2017.
What new SF/F shows are you looking forward to in 2016?