WandaVision is the most literary MCU product ever. Unlike everything the Marvel Cinematic Universe has done prior to 2021, the narrative isn't about superheroes punching. Instead, WandaVision is about relationships, and how those relationships might create new worlds.
WandaVision is also built on a central mystery — what the hell is going on? In the MCU, this kind of premise isn't common, but in novels and short stories, you encounter it all the time. So if you're looking for more pieces of fiction like WandaVision, you gotta hit the books. Here are seven (mostly) sci-fi books that will remind you more than a little bit of WandaVision.
7. I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream by Harlan Ellison
The titular short story of this Ellison collection involves an evil AI who traps a bunch of people trapped in an endless scenario in which they cannot be killed. The endless resurrection of the characters is harrowing, and if you watch the opening moments of WandaVision Episode 4, you'll get a similar feeling.
This isn't to say that this short story is exactly like WandaVision, but some of the edge and horror of the story feels cut from the exact same cloth.
6. Mind of My Mind by Octavia Butler
Technically a sequel to Butler's novel The Patternmaster, the story of Mind of My Mind is mostly about a latent telepath named Mary who creates an entire community of people connected by telepathy. This isn't a one-to-one ratio with what's going on with Wanda, but if you like the idea of a community being woven on the basics of physic energy, and what that might mean, this novel is a sci-fi classic for a reason.
5. Dangerous Laughter by Steven Millhauser
This short story collection has two stories, which, when read together, feel like impressionistic versions of WandaVision. In the story "The Disappearance of Elaine Coleman," a woman in a small town basically ceases to exist because the other people in the town don't want her to.
Meanwhile, the short story "The Other Town," is all about a replica of a perfect down created right next to a town that is actually populated. The people from the first town don't go to the replica town, at first, but when they do, things start to get creepy. WandaVision's two strange towns "Eastview" and "Westview" are reminiscent of these "real" and "fake" towns.
4. Night Work by Thomas Glavinic
Originally published in German, the novel centers around a man who finds himself in Vienna, totally alone. Seemingly, he is the last person on Earth, but the literalism of this idea is questioned throughout the novel. What he is dreaming and what he is experiencing, in reality, are drastically different.
This isn't a direct analogy to WandaVision, but the mood of existential dread in the novel feels totally channeled into the show's darkest moments.
3. Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said by Philip K. Dick
A famous TV host wakes up to find he is a totally different person and his actual identity has been erased. This latter-era Philip K. Dick novel is one of his best, insofar as you barely ever have time to worry about the central question of the novel – how did this happen? By the time you're midway through, so many bizarre things have happened, and the novel is so compelling, that you don't even feel like you need the big reveal to make sense.
Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said is kind of like a spiritual version of WandaVision in which we never got to Episode 4 and Wanda kept trying to solve the mystery without the "help" from the outside world.
2. Crown of Stars by Alice Sheldon (alias: James Tiptree Jr.)
Throughout her career, Alice Sheldon wrote science fiction under the alias James Tiptree Jr. After her untimely death in 1987, this short story collection revealed some of the best stories in her entire oeuvre. In the short story "Last Night and Every Night," a small town is occupied by people who seem to be unaware they are ghosts. Later, one character, who is aware that he is dead, confronts the authority of the town, questioning whether or not its right for him to be trapped where he is.
When you consider Vision is supposed to be dead within the current Marvel canon, this short story has some of the same ghostly vibes.
1. Count Zero by William Gibson
Set in the same cyberpunk world as his mega-famous novel Neuromancer, the story of Count Zero is mostly about a very young hacker who gets caught up in a world-changing battle over some new A.I. tech. However, one part of the world-building of Count Zero involves the way in which people "watch" TV in this specific future.
In this world, people have "jack dreams," which means they have dreams that are augmented by sitcoms and soap operas they are jacked-into. This kind of telepathically delivered "TV" can be passed onto their children, while they're still in the womb, meaning some characters inherit bad TV show tropes from the dreams their parents mainlined directly into their brains. Obviously, the strange, illogical sitcom format of WandaVision is similar. Do Wanda's twins dream of electric sitcoms?
WandaVision is streaming now on Disney+.