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The next Game of Thrones? Fantasy books heading for TV and movie screens

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Oscar Isaac looking ready to battle as Duke Leto Atreides in Dune.

Oscar Isaac looking ready to battle as Duke Leto Atreides in Dune.  

Warner Bros. Pictures

Game of Thrones filled our lives for nearly 10 years. While you wait (and wait) for George R.R. Martin to finish the novels that inspired HBO’s smash hit series, what fantasy bestseller could become be your new obsession?

Luckily there’s no shortage of epic fantasy, sci-fi and thriller books being adapted into movies and TV shows. From beloved classics like Lord of the Rings and Foundation to contemporary best-sellers like Who Fears Death and Ninth House, here are some of the adaptations that have the potential of rising to a Game of Thrones level of fame.


The cult 1984 movie and 2000 miniseries have their fans, but in 2021 we’ll be treated to a big-screen version of Frank Herbert’s classic novel. In the far future of humanity, Duke Leto Atreides and his son Paul battle over a life-giving spice with the venal Baron Harkonnen on the desert world of Arrakis. After reimagining Blade Runner 2049, acclaimed director Denis Villeneuve takes on another sci-fi classic with the help of a galaxy of stars, including Timothée Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, Oscar Isaac, Josh Brolin, Zendaya, Jason Momoa and Javier Bardem. It was pushed back twice in 2020 due to the pandemic. Its latest release date is Oct. 1.


Isaac Asimov’s seminal Foundation series is coming to Apple’s streaming service, Apple TV Plus. Beginning as a series of short stories in 1942, the Foundation books make up a vast, dense sci-fi saga about scientists trying to stave off an oncoming dark age. The 10-episode series is being developed by Josh Friedman, the man behind the Terminator TV series, and David Goyer, co-writer of the Dark Knight movies. It will reportedly premiere in late 2021.

Lord of the Rings 

Amazon paid a quarter of a billion dollars for the rights to a five-season TV show based on JRR Tolkien‘s Lord of the Rings stories, because who hasn’t looked at Peter Jackson’s movie series and thought: Yeah, it’s OK but it could be longer. The eye-wateringly Amazon Prime Video series is set in the distant history of Middle-earth, years before the events of The Hobbit, The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers and The Return of the King. The pandemic didn’t stop filming from taking place in New Zealand, and the show is set to premiere in 2021.

The Wheel of Time

Amazon Prime Video is also throwing money at Robert Jordan’s long-running series of fantasy novels. The Wheel of Time is set in a realm that’s simultaneously Earth’s past and future, where women warriors protect the Dragon Reborn to battle the Dark One. Rosamund Pike stars.

Who Fears Death

Game of Thrones fans will be interested to know George R.R. Martin is an executive producer on this HBO show based on the 2015 novel by Nnedi Okorafor. The post-apocalyptic afrofuturist story follows young Onyesonwu on a quest to find her father — a sorcerer who raped her mother. It’s being adapted by Twilight Zone writer Selwn Seyfu Hinds. 


The runaway success of Ernest Cline’s novel Ready Player One guaranteed his next book, Armada, was bought by Universal Pictures before it was even published. The book follows high school student Zack Lightman as he suspects his favorite online game is a sophisticated simulator training him to face a very real alien invasion. 


Hugh Howey’s 2011 book Wool is the first of a post-apocalyptic trilogy set in a vast underground silo. It’s being turned into a series by Apple TV Plus. Rebecca Ferguson will produce and play lead character Juliette.

Wool is the epitome of a modern media enterprise: It began life in 2011 as a serialized ebook by Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing, and now it’s being adapted by a streaming service. Howey fans will be pleased to hear that the author’s other books Sand, Beacon 23 and Half Way Home are being adapted by Amazon, AMC and CBS, respectively.

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It was adapted by the BBC in 2000, but this time Neil Gaiman and Akiva Goldsman are involved in a new adaptation of the baroque novels by Mervyn Peake. Murder and betrayal ensue as the rightful heir Titus Groan to Castle Gormenghast challenges the scheming Steerpike.

The Broken Earth 

Sony Pictures is adapting the Broken Earth trilogy by N.K. Jemisin: The Fifth Season, The Obelisk Gate and The Stone Sky. Jemisin made history by winning the prestigious Hugo Award for all three books in the series. She will also adapt the books into movies, bringing to the big screen a story of devastating post-apocalyptic seasons tackled by “orogenes,” people who control the energy of the planet. 

The Sandman

Neil Gaiman’s legendary comic series has been the subject of adaptation rumors for, well, decades. It’s finally happening thanks to Netflix and TV veteran Allan Heinberg — who also co-wrote the Wonder Woman movie — with GoT star Gwendoline Christie as Lucifer.

The Kingkiller Chronicle 

Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda and cult director Sam Raimi are reportedly overseeing TV and movie adaptations of this recent series by author Patrick Rothfuss. First released in 2007, The Name of the Wind and sequel The Wise Man’s Fear recount the memoirs of musician and magician Kvothe. Like Game of Thrones, the final book, called The Doors of Stone, has yet to be published.

Consider Phlebas 

Amazon boss Jeff Bezos gave a personal stamp of approval to the announcement that Amazon’s streaming service is adapting Iain M. Banks’ 1987 novel, the first in the Culture series. These weighty space opera stories are set in a utopian society in which civilizations awkwardly co-exist with each other and with artificial intelligence, while spaceships have names like “Prosthetic Conscience” and “No More Mr. Nice Guy.”

Station Eleven

HBO Max is prepping a miniseries based on the 2014 novel by Emily St. John Mandel, which follows a theater troupe in a post-pandemic world.

Ninth House

Amazon is adapting Bardugo’s Ninth House, the first in an adult series about ghostly secret societies at Yale.   

House of the Dragon


Emma D’Arcy plays Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen and Matt Smith is Prince Daemon Targaryen.

Warner Media

OK, so maybe nothing can replace Game of Thrones. If only Westeros will do, HBO has you covered with a planned Game of Thrones prequel series, House of the Dragon, set centuries before the hit show. House of the Dragon is set for release in 2022.

While you’re waiting for the next big thing, there are adaptations you can already watch, whether they are midstream or already said and done.

His Dark Materials


Dafne Keen plays young hero Lyra.  


Forget the underwhelming 2007 movie version of The Golden Compass. This BBC and HBO adaptation is a TV show giving the space and depth for a satisfying take on Philip Pullman’s novels Northern Lights, The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass. Steered by some of the producers behind Doctor Who, the story follows young Lyra in an adventure spanning twisted parallel versions of our reality. Logan’s Dafne Keen stars as Lyra with James McAvoy and Lin-Manuel Miranda. A third and final season is on the way.  

Shadow and Bone


Alina (Jessie Mei Li) and mentor Baghra (Zoë Wanamaker).


Based on the popular Grishaverse books by Leigh Bardugo, Netflix’s inventive Shadow and Bone brings a fresh twist on fantasy with its Imperial Russia steampunk aesthetic. This YA series began streaming in April.

Brave New World

Hannah John-Kamen as Wilhelmina Watson in Brave New World

Hannah John-Kamen as Wilhelmina Watson.

NBC / Peacock

Aldous Huxley’s scathing 1932 dystopian novel was adapted into a 2020 series on NBC’s Peacock streaming service. It stars the young Han Solo, Alden Ehrenreich, as a man out of time in a genetically manipulated society. Demi Moore also appears. Homecoming creator David Wiener is in charge, joined by legendary comics weirdo Grant Morrison. However, it wasn’t renewed for a second season.

Good Omens


Michael Sheen (left) and David Tennant enjoy Good Omens.

Chris Raphael

David Tennant and Michael Sheen are perfectly cast as a demon and an angel throwing a wrench in the works of the apocalypse in Good Omens on Amazon. The Amazon Prime Video 2019 miniseries is based on the devilishly funny 1990 novel by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman about the delightful shenanigans that ensue when the antichrist accidentally grows up with the wrong family.

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