The Biggest Fantasy and Sci-Fi Book-to-Screen Adaptations of 2021 and 2022

For all the nerds out there.

As Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones, and Harry Potter have proven, book-to-screen adaptations can be massively successful when done right. While there have been plenty of book-to-screen adaptations over the years—from Normal People to IT—we’ll be focusing on the genres that promise world-building of epic proportions. 

Fantasy and sci-fi have leveled up in recent years thanks to advancements in CGI, which is great for all the nerds out there. Now, top-tier screen adaptations of brilliant fantasy and sci-fi novels are possible, and they’re all coming to our screens in 2021 and 2022. 

Here are the biggest series and movies adaptations of some of the best works in speculative fiction.

1| Foundation 

Photo by APPLE TV.

Where to watch: Apple TV+
Release date: Six episodes are already streaming on Apple TV+, but there are still four more episodes to go. 

This big-budget sci-fi series on Apple TV+ is based on Foundation, one of the greatest works in science fiction. Written by Isaac Asimov in 1942, Foundation was the inspiration for Dune, which was, in turn, the inspiration for Star Wars. Set in a galaxy thousands of years in the future, Foundation’s plot is universal—literally. It follows a prophecy of an impending dark age when civilizations will crumble and fall. If you’re interested in the universe, fate, and the future, this is a fascinating series you can’t miss. 


2| Dune

Photo by DUNE.

Where to watch: Cinemas
Release date: November 10

Like Foundation, Dune’s plot is massive. The movie will act as an introduction to Frank Herbert’s universe as the cast and crew wait for the sequel to be confirmed. Set on the desert planet of Arrakis, Dune follows the journey of Paul Atreides, a young man whose family is thrust into a fight for their lives. Despite being a science fiction film, you’ll notice the there are no computers in this world but there are plenty of battle scenes and psychic visions. Dune is a master class in cinematography, so  it's best to catch this in cinemas when it comes out. 

3| The Wheel of Time 

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Where to watch: Amazon Prime
Release date: November 19 

Amazon is gunning for The Wheel of Time to be its own Game of Thrones, with the same large scope and, hopefully, viewership. The series is based on the award-winning high fantasy series by Robert Jordan, who passed away before he could finish all the books. After his death, fantasy writer Brandon Sanderson took over to write the last three books in the series, so unlike GOT, this series is complete. Set in a fantasy world rich in magic, mystery, and metaphysics, The Wheel of Time follows a classic quest-style plot. If you’re into serious world-building and magic systems, this is an adaptation you need to watch. 

4| The Sandman

Photo by Netflix.

Where to watch: Netflix
Release date: 2022 

Plenty of Neil Gaiman books have been adapted into movies and series over the years, but this might just be his most anticipated one yet. The Sandman is based on the comic book of the same name, a critically acclaimed, bestselling graphic novel collection that’s become a pillar in the dark fantasy genre. The show will follow the title character, the millennia-old Sandman, otherwise known as Dream or Morpheus, and Death’s little brother. Dream’s been kept in captivity for almost 100 years, and the world of the waking world better be ready when he’s released.


5| Lord of the Rings 

Photo by Amazon Studios.

Where to watch: Amazon Prime
Release date: 2022 

After The Wheel of Time, Amazon’s next big show will be none other than The Lord of the Rings. It won’t have the same title as the epic fantasy film trilogy, but it will be based on the rich source material left behind by J. R. R. Tolkien. The series will predate The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, but there’s a good chance that it will get inspiration from The Silmarillion, Tolkien's collection of Norse-like mythopoeic stories. The show, which is already promised a five-season run, will take place thousands of years before the trilogy. It will follow an ensemble cast of characters that were alive during the Second Age of Middle-Earth. In true Tolkein fashion, the series will be about good vs. evil and includes plenty of elves, dwarves, and other creatures in the land of Arda (and beyond). 


6| The Witcher: Blood Origin 

Photo by NETFLIX.

Where to watch: Netflix
Release date: 2022

Another epic spin-off heading to the screen is The Witcher: Blood Origin, which will chronicle the events that led to the Conjunction of Spheres and the very first Witcher. The spin-off will act as a prequel to the main series and will also be based on the books by popular Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski. Sapkowski never directly wrote about the events that take place 1,200 years before The Witcher’s current timeline, but there are enough snippets in the books to tease at what the world was like a millennia ago.

7| House of the Dragon

Photo by HBO.

Where to watch: HBO Go
Release date: 2022

All of the fantasy shows mentioned above are positioned to be as big as Game of Thrones, but HBO has its own contender for that battle: a prequel series focusing on the Targaryens themselves. House of the Dragon will focus on the Targaryen civil war that takes place about 200 years before the events of GOT. While GOT was based on the unfinished book series A Song of Ice and Fire, House of the Dragon is based on a lexicon-type book, Fire & Blood, written by G R. R. Martin that recounts the rise and fall of House Targaryen.

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Anri Ichimura
Section Editor, Esquire Philippines
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