The Lymond Chronicles and Transmetropolitan

What Book Would You Adapt Into a TV Show or Movie?

Recommended Videos

Some literary properties seem like they would absolutely shine with an on-screen treatment, yet we have not been gifted with their adaptations. Let’s tell Hollywood what’s what.

I had two wildly varied instincts when considering this question. The first thing that popped into my head as perfectly primed for adaptation was Dorothy Dunnett’s Lymond Chronicles series. The Chronicles are six books written in the ’60s and ’70s and set in 16th-century Europe. They will radically change you at a molecular level.

Dunnett’s books have everything a television-viewing audience could want: sweeping historical scope (with cameos from famous faces from history), immense amounts of violence, sex, scandal, and swordfights, and the brilliant Scottish hero Francis Crawford of Lymond. The books venture from country to country, inviting a diversity of cultural backdrops.

If you haven’t read Dunnett, you’re in for one of the greatest treats of your life. Her writing is sumptuous, impossibly well-researched, and lodges deeply into your soul. The range of the Chronicles is such—and the pathos and cruelty and chaos often so extreme (Pawn in Frankincense, anyone?)—that I can only imagine a network with resources like HBO or Netflix or Showtime pulling it off. Run, don’t walk.

And my God am I here for this fan-casting concept:

On the other side of the spectrum, both tonally and in terms of setting, we have Warren Ellis and Darick Robertson’s masterpiece of a comics series, TransmetropolitanClassified as “cyberpunk transhumanist,” Transmet is set a few hundred years in the future, and follows the unforgettable gonzo journalist Spider Jerusalem.

Although the series was first published in 1997 and ran until 2002, Ellis’ ruminations on human nature, technology, politics, entertainment, religion, and the role of the press have never felt more pressing or prescient.

Has there ever been a better time to tell the story of the corrupt, unhinged Smiler being elected the President of the United States, or to explore how radical advances in tech will alter our idea of what it means to be human?

It’s hard to imagine a character it would be more fun to watch come alive onscreen than Spider Jerusalem, whose acerbic observations can scour paint from the wall. Jerusalem is a misanthropic cynic who gleefully inflicts violence when needed, yet is ultimately devoted to fighting the good fight and speaking truth to power. Also, he has a two-faced cat that smokes nearly as many cigarettes as he does. This is a win-win situation.

Cat in Transmetropolitan

Adapting Transmetropolitan would afford a network or movie studio the same immense and vast richness of the Lymond Chronicles on a world-building level, only here a harshly neon fever-dream of the future instead of the decadent past.

These two properties are among my all-time favorites on a literary level as well as appearing primed to be told cinematically. What would you like to see make the jump from page to screen?

(images: Warren Ellis/Darick Robertson)

Want more stories like this? Become a subscriber and support the site!

The Mary Sue has a strict comment policy that forbids, but is not limited to, personal insults toward anyone, hate speech, and trolling. If you purchase something through our links, The Mary Sue may earn an affiliate commission.—


The Mary Sue is supported by our audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn a small affiliate commission. Learn more about our Affiliate Policy
related content
Read Article Utah Emulates ‘Fahrenheit 451’ With Statewide Book Bans and Calls for Book Burnings
A stack of books labeled "Prohibited Literature"
A stack of books labeled "Prohibited Literature"
A stack of books labeled "Prohibited Literature"
Read Article Conservatives Are Predictably Banning Books About Book Bans From Florida Schools
The cover of Ban This Book by Alan Gratz
The cover of Ban This Book by Alan Gratz
The cover of Ban This Book by Alan Gratz
Read Article Writing in Ursula K. Le Guin’s House Sounds Like a Dream, Right? That Dream Can Now Come True
Ursula K. Le Guin'sitting in a rocking chair and holding a book, black and white photograph.
Ursula K. Le Guin'sitting in a rocking chair and holding a book, black and white photograph.
Ursula K. Le Guin'sitting in a rocking chair and holding a book, black and white photograph.
Read Article Win a Signed Copy of ‘The Watchers’ From Dakota Fanning and Ishana Night Shyamalan
Dakota Fanning in 'The Watchers'
Dakota Fanning in 'The Watchers'
Dakota Fanning in 'The Watchers'
Read Article The New ‘Hunger Games’ Prequel Is Likely To Explore Haymitch’s Time in the Arena
Woody Harrelson as Haymitch Abernathy in The Hunger Games
Woody Harrelson as Haymitch Abernathy in The Hunger Games
Woody Harrelson as Haymitch Abernathy in The Hunger Games
Related Content
Read Article Utah Emulates ‘Fahrenheit 451’ With Statewide Book Bans and Calls for Book Burnings
A stack of books labeled "Prohibited Literature"
Read Article Conservatives Are Predictably Banning Books About Book Bans From Florida Schools
The cover of Ban This Book by Alan Gratz
Read Article Writing in Ursula K. Le Guin’s House Sounds Like a Dream, Right? That Dream Can Now Come True
Ursula K. Le Guin'sitting in a rocking chair and holding a book, black and white photograph.
Read Article Win a Signed Copy of ‘The Watchers’ From Dakota Fanning and Ishana Night Shyamalan
Dakota Fanning in 'The Watchers'
Read Article The New ‘Hunger Games’ Prequel Is Likely To Explore Haymitch’s Time in the Arena
Woody Harrelson as Haymitch Abernathy in The Hunger Games
Author
Kaila Hale-Stern
Kaila Hale-Stern (she/her) is a content director, editor, and writer who has been working in digital media for more than fifteen years. She started at TMS in 2016. She loves to write about TV—especially science fiction, fantasy, and mystery shows—and movies, with an emphasis on Marvel. Talk to her about fandom, queer representation, and Captain Kirk. Kaila has written for io9, Gizmodo, New York Magazine, The Awl, Wired, Cosmopolitan, and once published a Harlequin novel you'll never find.