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5 Films and Games Inspired by Our Favourite Books

23 April 2024Written by Emma Woodward
Today is World Book and Copyright Day, a day when UNESCO, publishers, booksellers and libraries come together to celebrate and promote the enjoyment of books and reading.
AIT Sydney Campus

On this very special day, we thought we’d take a moment to delve into some of AIT’s favourite fantasy and sci-fi books that have been adapted as games, live-action movies, series or animations. 

This is not a comprehensive list of the best book to screen adaptations. How could it be? We’d be listing half the games and shows out there. Instead, we went around campus asking for a few favourites. 

We also gave bonus points to the ones that spanned multiple media reincarnations. 

1. Howl’s Moving Castle

“A heart’s a heavy burden.”

― Howl’s Moving Castle, Diana Wynne Jones

British fantasy writer Diana Wynne Jones has penned more than 40 beloved children’s books, many of them taking place in the fantasy worlds she has created. 

Her 1986 novel, Howl’s Moving Castle, was adapted by Hayao Miyazaki, and released by Studio Ghibli in 2004. Now, the animated film is perhaps better known than the original novel.  

Miyazaki’s adaptation was strongly influenced by his opposition to the invasion of Iraq in 2003, and so the film has much stronger anti-war themes than the novel, which largely focused on challenging class and gender norms.

2. The Last Wish

“‘People,’ Geralt turned his head, ‘like to invent monsters and monstrosities. Then they seem less monstrous themselves.’”
 – The Last Wish, Andrzej Sapkowski

The Last Wish introduces us to Geralt, and Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski’s world of witchers, mages and monsters. 

This collection of short stories, and the rest of Sapkowski’s The Witcher Series, became the basis for both a video game series, and Netflix adaptations that included a TV series, an animated film and a live-action prequel series.  

3. Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation

“If you walk the night road too often, sooner or later, you’ll run into ghosts.”

― Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation: Mo Dao Zu Shi (Novel) Vol. 1, Mo Xiang Tong Xiu

The Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation series (Mo Dao Zu Shi, or MDZS) by Chinese author Mo Xiang Tong Xiu (her pen name) follows the story of the title character, Wei Wuxian and his soulmate, Lan Wangji.

The original series has a devoted fan following and has been adapted into a live-action web series, The Untamed. 

4. Through the Looking-Glass

“It’s a great huge game of chess that’s being played – all over the world – if this is the world at all, you know. Oh, what fun it is! How I wish I was one of them! I wouldn’t mind being a Pawn, if only I might join – though of course I should like to be a Queen, best.”

― Through the Looking-Glass, Lewis Carroll

Lewis Carroll’s sequel to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland takes place in a reflected world that is the reverse of Alice’s own, where games come to life. 

Alice must take part in a game of chess across the countryside, starting out as a pawn, and attempting to make it to the other side where she can become a queen. 

Through the Looking-Glass introduces the Jabberwocky, the Walrus and the Carpenter and Tweedledum and Tweedledee, and has been combined with Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland in many film adaptations. 

The story takes a popular game as its basis, and through its many adaptations it has almost become a myth or fairytale in pop culture, with characters popping up in many stories, not only those that can be considered true adaptations.

AIT student work by Luisa Gabriela Navarro Mandoza

5. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep

“The electric things have their lives, too. Paltry as those lives are.”
― Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, Philip K. Dick

Set on a future Earth decimated by war, Phillip K. Dick’s 1968 novel follows bounty hunter Rick Deckard, as he hunts down escaped androids that seem nearly indistinguishable from humans. 

In 1982, the book was adapted as Ridley Scott’s film, Blade Runner, with Harrison Ford playing Deckard.    

Although the story and its emphasis was altered greatly in its leap from page to screen, both stories deal hauntingly with the question of what it means to be human, and both were hugely influential on the sci-fi genre as a whole. 

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