Five Books/Series That Should Totally Be Adapted With Puppets
Many of us, fans and authors alike, play the dream casting game where we imagine who should star in film or television adaptations of our favorite books. But not all stories were meant for live-action, or even animation. Some stories require the warmth, creativity, and downright fun of puppetry.
- The Discworld Series, by Terry Pratchett. I’m assuming you’re all familiar with the marvel of humorous fantasy that is Discworld. (If not, shame on you. Get off the internet and get to your library!)
The early Discworld books featured the bumbling wizard Rincewind and, more importantly, the Luggage. The Luggage is made of sapient pearwood, and is characterized as “half suitcase, half homicidal maniac.” It’s nigh invulnerable, and makes a habit of devouring whatever gets in its way. This is the character puppets were made for!
Discworld also includes one of the best librarian characters ever, a wizard who was accidentally transformed into an orangutan, but liked his new form and decided to keep it. While his vocabulary might be rather limited (“Ook!”), imagine what a good puppeteer could do with the facial expressions.
Pratchett has such brilliant, well-developed, more-than-real characters that it’s unfair to expect mere humans to do them justice. This requires the magic of puppets.
- The Newsflesh Trilogy, by Mira Grant. Grant’s Hugo-nominated thrillers about the rise of zombies and the political conspiracies that result might not seem like the ideal choice for puppetry, but I really want to see a puppet Shaun Mason going to town on puppet zombies.
Puppet zombies. Why is this not being produced and performed already, people?
Many of the high-tension break-ins and escapes throughout the trilogy are just dying for the occasional Kermit-flail. And for those of you who are into that sort of thing, you’d get at least one scene of puppet nookie.
- Zahrah the Windseeker, by Nnedi Okorafor. I included this one because Okorafor’s story would make for an absolutely beautiful puppet world. Zahrah was born dada, with vines growing within her thick locks, vines that twined themselves to her hair while she was still in the womb. She lives on a planet colonized ages ago and developed with biological technology, a world rooted in African culture and folklore. Zahrah grew her own computer from a seed. Shots are given using insects, and the patient is swabbed with sugar water so the insect will bite and inject the medicine. And oh yes — Zahrah can fly.
There are talking gorillas and a trickster frog and a confused war snake and it’s a freaking gorgeous story and someone please puppetize it right now!
- Chicks in Chainmail, edited by Esther Friesner. Because who doesn’t want to see puppet swordswomen in chainmail bikinis kicking ass, taking names, and turning ridiculous fantasy tropes upside down? The anthology format means you could do a series of shorter episodes, and Friesner’s editorial taste means you’ve got plenty of fun and humorous stories to work with.
- Shatterpoint, by Matthew Woodring Stover. This Star Wars novel is a Heart of Darkness-style journey with Mace Windu attempting to save his former Padawan on the jungle world of Haruun Kal. It’s a darker Star Wars adventure than I’m used to, and surprisingly intense. But that’s not the point.
The real point can be summed up in three words: Mace Windu puppet.
Now it’s your turn. What book or series would you want to see performed by puppets, and why?
Jim C. Hines is the author of Libriomancer, about a magic-wielding librarian who pulls laser guns out of books and shoots sparkling vampires. He’s also written the Princess series of fairy tale retellings, and the humorous Goblin Quest trilogy. (Jig the goblin would make an awesome puppet, by the way.) He’s an active blogger, and won the 2012 Hugo Award for Best Fan Writer.