Not to sound ungrateful, but after the success of the Hulu adaptation of The Handmaid’s Tale, does it really come as a surprise that Margaret Atwood is writing a sequel?
Originally published in 1985, The Handmaid’s Tale was a standalone story – in fact, Offred’s story was framed as a collection of tapes found by an archaeologist in the far, far future. So it makes sense within that framing device that Margaret Atwood’s next installment, The Testaments, skips over to follow three completely new(?) female characters 15 years after The Handmaid’s Tale ends. (Will we ever find out what happened to Offred? Unlikely. And I’m okay with that.)
This week, I got movies on my mind. Books-to-movie adaptations, that is. Here are some of the book-related movies on my feathery radar…
Chaos Walking by Patrick Ness
I haven’t read anything by Patrick Ness, but when I heard that his series was being turned into a movie, I went straight to the synopsis: “A dystopian world where there are no women and all living creatures can hear each others’ thoughts in a stream of images, words, and sounds called Noise.”
And my first thought was: Immersive visions of other people’s thoughts? Can you even do that through a movie?
Turns out, maybe not.
Between a release date that got pushed out from March 2019 to sometime 2020, news that the movie is undergoing major reshoots, and the word “unreleasable” floating around, it’s definitely not good news for this adaptation. Fede Alvarez (The Girl in the Spider’s Web) has come in to do the reshoots, which will cost the Lionsgate another $15 million on top of the $100 million already spent on the movie.
On the bright side, this does mean I have some extra time to read the books.
Release Date: 2020?
Writers Mark Gatiss (Sherlock) and Steven Moffat (Sherlock, Doctor Who) are teaming up for a three episode miniseries adaptation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula for Netflix and BBC.
What’s it gonna look like? Sounds like it’ll be a period drama retelling of the 1897 original, with Claes Bang is attached to play Dracula himself.
Release date: Many question marks. Moffat and Gatis finished the script in January 2019.
War of the Worlds
The classics, they are a-coming. As BBC miniseries.
Here’s another one. H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds is coming to BBC for an eight-episode alien invasion sci-fi period drama thriller. Much like BBC’s Dracula adaptation, this War of the Worlds adaptation will also stay true to the book’s historic period and will be set in Edwardian London. (Though it sounds like its two main characters will be new additions.)
Gilles Coulier (Cargo) and Richard Clark (Versailles) will each direct four of the eight episodes.
Release Date: Sometime in 2019.
Somewhere beneath all the Game of Thrones chatter and hype, HBO is coming out with another book(ish) adaptation. It’s the comic book, Watchmen, back for another stab at the screen.
Check out the ten seconds of footage at 0:12
The fact that they already have footage gives me hope that we’ll see the show soon. Looks like screenwriter Damon Lindelof (Cowboys & Aliens, Prometheus, Star Trek Into Darkness, and Tomorrowland) will be doing a more loosely inspired adaptation of the comic. After the almost painfully faithful (yet not-quite a hit) panel-for-panel Zach Snyder’s 2009 movie adaptation, I’m totally ready to see something new and current from this ten-episode show.
This adaptation promises a pretty good lineup of talent, with Oscar-winner Jeremy Irons (Reversal of Fortune), Regina King (The Leftovers) and Golden Globe-winner Don Johnson (Miami Vice) taking lead roles. They filming in spring 2018, so we should be getting a official trailer or promo soon.
Still, FirstToRead’s system of getting people to read and review its books appeared to be working. From my 2016 math, for every 100 free advanced galleys released per available book, the review feedback rates were in the 20-40 percent range. That review rate seems to be on par with NetGalley review rates for small or coop publishers.
And yet, and yet. For an established publisher like Penguin? The payoff probably wasn’t enough to justify staffing, hosting and maintenance—especially since FirstToRead merely replicated some of Penguin’s NetGalley offerings.
And so the FirstToRead platform is being officially shut down this July.
Where To Next: Reader Rewards
Even as FirstToRead enters its end days, Penguin is advertising its new program, Reader Rewards, a pay-to-play rewards system in which you register eligible purchases to earn points for a free book.
According to the website’s FAQ, earning “120 points (the equivalent of uploading proof of purchase for 12 books)” gets you “any eligible book(s) on penguinrandomhouse.com for free (up to a $30 value).” Points expire after two years, and code expires within six months of issue.
So, What Now?
If you have a FirstToRead account, check in and use up any spare points on May’s book lotteries. They won’t carry over once the program shuts down in July 2019.
If you’re a regular buyer of Penguin Random House books—and any of its insane number of imprints—then sure, sign up for ReaderRewards and take advantage of your purchases.
And if you’re mostly looking for ARCs, there’s always NetGalley.
Canaries, have you ever used any of these platforms?
I’m back, and here are some book-to-movie trailers to distract you from how long I’ve been away. Enjoy!
Based on the canary favorite Artemis Fowl series by Eoin Colfer, the first trailer has us exchanging cautious looks. With director Kenneth Branagh (Murder on the Orient Express, Thor, Cinderella, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit) at the helm, it could turn out to be a lot of things. Plus, when one of the book’s cornerstones is its humorous writing style, how do you translate that into a movie?
Actor lineup features a couple new (or relatively new) faces. Artemis Fowl will be played by newcomer Ferdia Shaw, while Captain Holly Short will be played by Lara McDonnell. Of the more established names, we have Judi Dench and Nonso Anozie to play Commander Root and Butler respectively.
Horror director André Øvredal (Trollhunter) is leading this adaptation, and if you want to know more, you’re gonna have to look it up yourself, because memories of this terrifying collection are flooding back and I am noping my way out of this post.
Release Date: August 9, 2019
His Dark Materials
Okay, so this one is actually, honest-to-goodness happening and I am stoked. We last chirped about this show in fall 2016, and between the trailer and actor lineup, it looks like His Dark Materials will be well worth the wait.
I mean, James McAvoy, Ruth Wilson, and Lin-Manuel Miranda? Yes, please.
More excitingly, main heroine Lyra will be played by Dafne Keen. If Keen’s showing in Logan is anything to go by, she will rock Lyra’s half-feral fierceness.
Release date: Not soon enough. (Filming wrapped December 2018, with a 2019 release.)
“That’s some catch, that Catch-22.”
Check out what just dropped in trailer-world. Joseph Heller’s dark satire about war is coming to the screen in the form of a Hulu miniseries. And though I’m definitely on the fence about adding another show to my list, the supporting actor has me intrigued. See: George Clooney, Hugh Laurie and Kyle Chandler.
Release date: Friday, May 17
Canaries, what adaptations are you most looking forward to?
The latest, greatest and (sometimes) strangest blurbs from the book world.
Okay, this is the second time in a row I’m derailing this series in favor of cover art, but seriously. This is some lovely design work. Who cares about story when you could have this on your bookshelf?
“They are the daughters of a king. Though they share the same royal blood, they could not be more different. Bluebell is a proud warrior, stronger than any man and with an ironclad heart to match. Rose’s heart is all too passionate: She is the queen of a neighboring kingdom, who is risking everything for a forbidden love. The twins: vain Ivy, who lives for admiration, and zealous Willow, who lives for the gods. And Ash, who is discovering a dangerous talent for magic that might be a gift—or a curse.
But when their father is stricken by a mysterious ailment, they must come together on a desperate journey to save him and prevent their treacherous stepbrother from seizing the throne. Their mission: find the powerful witch who can cure the king. But to succeed on their quest, they must overcome their differences, and hope that the secrets they hide from one another and the world are never brought to light. Because if this royal family breaks, it could destroy the kingdom.”
“I am wondering if I lost something in the whittling down of this blurb.”
If you’ve gotta ask…
From that sentence alone, I know author David Wozniak totally knew in his heart of hearts what would happened when he cut his 200-word blurb to his 50-word elevator pitch and sent it into our merciless canary claws. The skies grew dark, women wailed in the streets, old men grew sorrowful and still.
Because, let’s face it, there’s nothing harder than trying to distill the essence of a 50,000+ word story into a few pithy sentences.
But let’s back up and take a look at David’s elevator pitch:
“Each year, Master Voider Democryos sends his brightest student into the war-torn countryside to work magic. But when the young Lady Marine leaves him for another man, he finds his own life ravaged. Forsaking the comfort of the citadel, he seeks to find her–not to gain her back, but to gain understanding.
Nothing goes as planned.”
First thought: The fewer words, the more each word matters.
In such a short piece, every word carries huge weight. Protip: Avoid using words that have no meaning to the reader. An easy example of this is “Master Voider” – I don’t know what it is, and that’s distracting. Continue reading →
The latest, greatest and (sometimes) strangest blurbs from the book world.
Who cares about book blurbs when there’s a pretty cover involved? This one’s a stunner. Sure, it’s from a third book in a series I haven’t read. But come on. Isn’t it gorgeous? (And, if you’re on Netgalley, it’s a free download.)
“Ruxandra Dracula, a 250-year-old vampire, wants nothing to do with the fallen angel that created her. But when fellow vampire Kade tells her a group of magicians in Moscow is going to summon that angel, Ruxandra knows she must try to stop them.
In Moscow, Ruxandra finds herself caught in a web of political and supernatural intrigue. Empress Anna of Russia wants the vampires to be her spies. Her secret police have magic that is nearly impossible to defeat. A cadre of Russian nobles wants them to kill the empress.
And the Alchemist, the beautiful, whip-smart leader of the magicians, wants Ruxandra as more than just an experimental subject.
As the magicians prepare to summon the fallen angel, Ruxandra must choose: will she kill them to keep the angel from coming, or face the angel and find out her purpose on the earth?“
This week, I’ve got comics on my mind. Comic-books-to-TV and movie adaptations, that is, and there are a lot hitting the small screens soon. Unfortunately, I can’t seem to get excited about any of these yet. Maybe the first episodes will change my mind?
This is happening:
Oh ABC. You’ve got to commit.
So the costume reveal went over like the-Friday-before attempt at a cosplay, and the first trailer wasn’t any more encouraging. They’ve since redone the trailer, but it still looks low budget as hell. What can I say, we’ve been spoiled by the movies, and we’re not going back.
Movies have raised the bar on superhero action sequences, and shows have got to be either super smart about the superpowers they showcase (Legion, Sense 8, Agent Carter, Jessica Jones, etc) or put their budget where their mouth is (Heroes, Supergirl, Constantine). Or, you know, embrace the camp a la Freeform. But you can’t waffle and then expect to eat your waffle and have it too.
Release date: September 29, 2017. So, this Friday.
Fox looks like it’s going to try a bit harder with this Heroes meets X-Men show which follows a couple mutant powered kids whose father works for the creepy government agency charged with catching and containing mutants. I wonder if we’ll get a lot of awkward Breaking Bad-style dinners out of this one.
On the bright side, Amy Acker will be in this show. (Unfortunately, looks like she’ll be playing Mom-normal. As opposed to, you know, a badass hacker assassin prophet (Person of Interest) or soulless alien goddess (Angel).) Continue reading →