6 Writers You Didn’t Know Wrote Spin-Off Novels


Pic: Pixabay (CC0)

Call them franchise fiction, spin-offs, or novelizations: They’re the books that make your favorite video game, television shows, and movies must-reads. Many writers have taken a shot at writing franchise fiction. Some stick with it. Others don’t. Here are five celebrated authors who wrote only one spin-off novel.

A note: Many of these are out of print. Check with your favorite used book dealer if you can’t find them elsewhere.

  • The cover of the book Crysis



    You might know former marine biologist turned writer Peter Watts best for his novels Starfish, and Blindsight: two thought-provoking works that draw heavily from his scientific education. Hardcore gamers, on the other hand, will probably recognize him as the author of Crysis: Legion: a 2011 adaptation of the video game “Crysis 2”. “Crysis 2” pits a nano-tech equipped human warrior against hordes of alien invaders. Watts’s novel follows the plot of the game, but fleshes it out with plot elements that cast the story in a new light.

  • The cover of the book FANTASTIC VOYAGE


    A Novel

    Isaac Asimov … Where do we even begin? He wrote the I, Robot stories, the Foundation series, several works of non-fiction, a collection of dirty limericks, even a guide to the Bible. The guy wrote everything — including Fantastic Voyage: a novelization of the 1966 film of the same name. Asimov’s novelization came out several months before the film did, which left many people with the impression that the latter was based on the former — an impression that continues to this day — but the truth is that this story of a miniaturized medical crew on a voyage through a sick man’s body wasn’t Asimov’s: It was from the minds of “Twilight Zone” writer Jerome Bixby, and Hollywood producer Otto Klement.

  • The cover of the book Predator: South China Sea

    Predator: South China Sea

    Jeff VanderMeer is the author of the Southern Reach trilogy, the source for the 2018 Alex Garland film “Annihilation”, as well as Finch, City of Saints and Madmen, and several other works of well regarded fiction. He’s also the author of the 2008 book Predator: South China Sea: a novel set in the expanded universe of the “Predator film” franchise. VanderMeer’s novel finds a cast of dangerous men and women — arms dealers, secret agents, pirates, and others — squaring off against the franchise’s alien hunter on a remote island stocked with exotic animals.

  • The cover of the book The Coming of the Terraphiles

    The Coming of the Terraphiles

    Michael Moorcock is a legend in the history of science fiction and fantasy literature: a prolific novelist who, among other things, created the Eternal Champions Elric of Melniboné, Dorian Hawkmoon, and Jerry Cornelius, and also wrote song lyrics for the hard rock band Hawkwind. In 2010, BBC Books published Moorcock’s The Coming of the Terraphiles, a Doctor Who novel that finds the Doctor squaring off against Moorcock’s Jerry Cornelius in a contest for the Arrow of Law. Truly, Moorcock took the Doctor’s world and made it (one of) his own.

  • The cover of the book Beowulf


    Caitlín R. Kiernan is well known for her award-winning dark fantasy and science fiction novels (The Red Tree, The Drowning Girl, Agents of Dreamland, etc.), and comic books (The Dreaming, Alabaster Wolves). She also wrote Beowulf — or rather, the novelization of the 2007 film based on the epic Anglo Saxon saga. While you’re probably familiar with the plot already — legendary warrior called to defend a kingdom against a horrid monster and its mom — experiencing it again through Kiernan’s unique lens is a lot of fun.

  • The cover of the book The Prisoner

    The Prisoner

    Thomas M. Disch, along with Michael Moorcock, Brian Aldiss, and others) was part of the New Wave of science fiction: a movement that saw writers abandoning the straight forward, hard science focus of fifties SF in favor of experimental, prose with a distinctly literary sensibility. His novels, among them Camp Concentration, and The Genocides, are just as challenging today as they ever were. In 1967, Disch turned his talents to franchise fiction with The Prisoner: a novel based on the cult BBC series about a man imprisoned in a mysterious village by captors determined to psychologically destroy him.