Fantasy and Sci-FI
The next stage of the streaming wars will be fought on the ashes of "Game of Thrones." (Illustration by Julianne Griepp, Laguna College of Art and Design)
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Fantasy and Sci-FI

We might be approaching a golden age of TV sci-fi and fantasy.

Amid the streaming wars, services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu are relying heavily on original fantasy and sci-fi titles to compete with their competitors. After the success of HBO’s “Game of Thrones,” whose eighth season alone received 32 Emmy nominations, other streaming corporations want their own version of the fantasy smash-hit to achieve the same level of ratings domination that HBO held during the show’s eight-year reign.

Before the last season of “Game of Thrones” aired, plans for more adaptations of fantasy and sci-fi series were announced, including HBO’s prequel series to “Game of Thrones,” Amazon Prime’s prequel to “The Lord of the Rings” and Netflix’s “The Witcher,” adapted from the author Andrzej Sapkowski’s series and starring Henry Cavill.

But besides these three shows, there are other extremely interesting adaptations on the way that aren’t receiving the same level of media attention.

Here are four more fantasy and sci-fi series that fans might not know are in the works.

1. “Dune

The “Dune” series, written by Frank Herbert in 1965, is a sci-fi story taking place 20,000 years in a future where humanity has left Earth and dispersed across the galaxy, finding new homes on over 10,000 planets.

The story’s protagonist, Paul Atreides, is fated to be the savior of the Fremen, the native inhabitants of the planet Arrakis (aka Dune), who are seen as inferior and disposable by the Emperor and noble families of the wider universe.

Herbert details many facets of humanity’s existence, along with depicting the extremes of what could happen if humanity went down its darkest path.

Director Denis Villeneuve, known for other sci-fi films like “Blade Runner: 2049” and “Arrival,” is currently working on two “Dune” projects: one being a film based off the first novel in the series, and the other being a TV show for WarnerMedia’s upcoming streaming service. The film has a release date of Nov. 20, 2020, and already has a stellar cast with actors like Timothée Charlamet, Zendaya, Rebecca Ferguson, Stellan Skarsgård and Javier Bardem.

For the TV show, Villeneuve is to serve as the show’s co-producer and will direct the pilot episode. The official title for the show is “Dune: Sisterhood,” which will focus on the group of witches known as the Bene Gesserit, who play pivotal roles in Herbert’s main story.

2. “The Kingkiller Chronicle

While not exactly the most popular series in the fantasy genre, the “Kingkiller Chronicle,” written by Patrick Rothfuss, tells the story of the innkeeper Kvothe (pronounced “Qwothe”), a man who recounts his journey from childhood into adulthood to a scribe named Chronicler. Told from Kvothe’s point of view, Rothfuss effectively molds the character into a real person, where readers witness every rise and fall and twist and turn that Kvothe undergoes.

With each book equating to one night of Kvothe telling Chronicler his life’s story, readers follow Kvothe from being a poor musician to a diligent student of magic, from a wealthy nobleman to a skilled warrior. Since only two of the three planned books are released, “The Name of the Wind” and “The Wise Man’s Fear,” fans expect the third novel, “The Doors of Stone,” to conclude Kvothe’s transition from being a king killer to the innkeeper he is now.

Lionsgate and Showtime plan on adapting the series, with Lionsgate focusing on a movie and Showtime developing a TV show. Rothfuss will serve as the executive producer for each incarnation alongside Lin-Manuel Miranda (“Hamilton”), who will also be the show’s songwriter/composer.

The film will be based on the original trilogy, while the TV show will be a prequel detailing events before Kvothe’s birth. Because music is an important component in not only characterizing Kvothe but also the world as a whole, Miranda’s musical background will be a great benefit to the show’s quality and the viewer’s immersion.

3. “Lovecraft Country

Despite fans considering H.P. Lovecraft’s works to be part of the cosmic horror genre and not part of a fantasy and sci-fi series, his stories still have some of the same fantastical and scientific elements. Lovecraft is most popular for stories revolving around eldritch creations such as the monsters Cthulhu, Nyarlathotep and Azathoth, all belonging to his pantheon of deities known as “The Great Old Ones.”

Due to the unorthodox nature of his writings, content similar to that of Lovecraft’s imagination has long been described as “Lovecraftian,” meaning anything dealing with the fear of the unknown or humanity’s puny insignificance.

“Lovecraft Country,” as the title suggests, is an upcoming Lovecraftian HBO series set to premiere late 2019, with Jordan Peele and J.J. Abrams as executive producers. Adapted from the novel of the same name by Matt Russ, the series will be set in 1954 America during the Jim Crow era. The characters, Atticus Black, his friend Letitia and his uncle George must not only combat racism, but also Lovecraftian creatures beyond their level of comprehension.

4. “The Dark Tower

Often considered as Stephen King’s magnum opus, the “Dark Tower” series is an amalgamation of different genres, leaning more toward horror and western than a fantasy and sci-fi series. Consisting of eight books, the series begins with the gunslinger Roland Deschain tracking down his elusive rival, the Man in Black, across a vast desert.

As readers progress through the series, however, this conflict is only the tip of the iceberg. With every installment in the series, King adds new supernatural elements that expand the reader’s knowledge of his universe and prepares them for finally reaching the Dark Tower itself — the nexus of all life.

Even though the 2017 film “The Dark Tower” starring Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey, didn’t do so well at the box office, Amazon Prime recently announced that a pilot episode for a TV show is currently being shot in Croatia, with Glen Mazzara (“The Walking Dead”) as executive producer. Due to the depth and scope of the “Dark Tower” series, a TV show is a more appropriate medium to convey King’s intricate plot lines on a cosmic scale.

With the “Game of Thrones” prequel, the “Lord of the Rings” prequel and “The Witcher” taking the spotlight, other fantasy and sci-fi series have not been given the publicity they deserve. These four upcoming adaptions, along with several others still unannounced, will satisfy fantasy and sci-fi fans for years to come.

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