Move Over, Westeros: Six SFF Series That Would Rule the TV Landscape

For various reasons—mainly the use of sexual assault as plot parsley—I haven’t been following HBO’s Game of Thrones. That’s not, however, going to stop me from suggesting other SFF book series that might survive the transition to television. After all, everyone else is doing it…

The candidates should be series of at least three books or more—preferably complete. I mean, we wouldn’t want the TV writers to have to imagine their own ending. (Nor would we want the writers to re-imagine the ending. Just to make that clear.) Here are a few that more than fit the bill…


If there’s one thing I’ve learned from television it is that one should under no circumstances move to Midsomer everyone loves a good mystery. People also seem to like unusual detectives: best-selling authors, nosy spinsters, gardeners. Or priests. It seems to me that if Father Brown can carry a series, so too could Acatl, High Priest of Mictlantecuhtli, protagonist of Aliette de Bodard’s Obsidian and Blood trilogy: Servant of the Underworld (2010), Harbinger of the Storm (2011), and Master of the House of Darts (2011). Acatl serves the Aztec god of Death; it’s his duty to deal with the dead. Mysterious deaths require closer attention. Acatl often finds himself playing detective. Unlike most modern-day detectives, Acatl must sometimes suspect the gods themselves.


Rebecca Ore’s Becoming Alien trilogy—Becoming Alien (1988), Being Alien (1989), and Human to Human (1990)—focuses on Tom Gentry, an American teenager who is in the right place at the right time to aid Alpha, a covert alien observer. Unfortunately for the alien envoy, Tom is a troubled kid on the fast track to prison; his older brother is worse. By the time Alpha’s co-workers arrive, Alpha is dead. The aliens replace Alpha with Tom, drafting him as a junior Federation diplomat. Tom must reinvent himself or die trying.


Joan Vinge’s Snow Queen Cycle—The Snow Queen (1980), World’s End (1984), The Summer Queen (1991), and Tangled Up in Blue (2000)—is really two intersecting series. One focuses on Moon, a young woman whom the planet Tiamat’s ruler, Arienrhod, has groomed to replace her as ritual sacrifice. Things do not work out as Arienrhod had planned. The other series focuses on BZ Gundhalinu, a dutiful policeman best described as “fate’s chew toy.” The two protagonists, Moon and BZ, reshape galactic politics and find true love. Eventually.


The plot of Jo Clayton’s Duel of Sorcery trilogy—Moongather (1982), Moonscatter (1983), and Changer’s Moon (1985)—is set in motion by Ser Noris, a formidable magician who has achieved all the power he had ever desired … and is bored. Tired of reshaping worlds, Noris decides to destroy them, instead. The only thing standing between Ser Noris and the end of the world(s) is one green-skinned mutant sorceress named Serroi. As a girl, Serroi was traumatized by a first encounter with Ser Noris. Yet she persists in her defiance and saves the world. Again, eventually.

If this series were to be produced, and if viewers were to like it, a possible second Clayton series might build on the Dancer Trilogy.


Melissa Scott and Jo Graham’s Order of the Air series—Lost Things (2012), Steel Blues (2013), Silver Bullet (2014), Wind Raker (2014), and Oath Bound (2016)—is a secret-history series set in the years immediately prior to the Second World War. Unbeknownst to common folk, the world is rich in occult relics—all of them sealed evil in a can. Dig one up and DOOM! But fools keep digging them up, leading to interesting plot complications. Our protagonists (a whole slew of them; they are both a company and a family of choice) fly aeroplanes. (“Aeroplanes” because this is the 1930s, kids.) Imagine the spectacular scenery and edge-of-your-seat air races! Plus polyamory, queer love, consensual BDSM, and more! Hollywood, this one has your name on it…


Finally, Martha Wells’ Books of the Raksura encompasses five novels and two collections: seasons and seasons worth of material. Set in a secondary world with a forgotten history and a bewildering abundance of intelligent tool users, the series begins with a seemingly straightforward question—Who or what exactly is the protagonist, Moon?—before blooming into an exotic bouquet of plots that should keep viewers glued to their screens for many episodes to come.


Yo, Hollywood execs, you hear me? Load up the money truck and let’s make some television magic…

In the words of Wikipedia editor TexasAndroid, prolific book reviewer and perennial Darwin Award nominee James Davis Nicoll is of “questionable notability.” His work has appeared in Publishers Weekly and Romantic Times as well as on his own websites, James Nicoll Reviews and Young People Read Old SFF (where he is assisted by editor Karen Lofstrom and web person Adrienne L. Travis). He is surprisingly flammable.


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