I usually hate movies of books, for the reason that they usually destroy your carefully built up imaginings of the world of the book. Which is as much a criticism of my own imagination as one of that of the movie-maker. For that reason I enjoy something like Star Wars, cruddy though it may be, more than Lord of the Rings (for example) because I get it with no preconceived ideas about what it should look like.
I've always loved 2001 because it is so close to the book - which is because the film and book were made together. And there are still some big differences!
But I'll take this blog as a suggested reading list Max, and many thanks for that....
I loved 2001. When I heard that they were making Lord of the Rings (again) I thought "Noooo!" (having seen all the previous attempts) ... but I really enjoyed the end result.
Please do accept this blog as a suggested reading list -- as far as I am concerned they are all absolute gems...
The movies always disappoint. They never even come close to my imagination. I prefer sci - fi movies written as movies. It just works better when you write for the end format. Good books just don't translate well to the "small screen".
Hi Hoyt -- I did think about "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" (which is one of my favorite books) ... I'm just worries that they woudl mess it up as a film in the same way that they messed up "Starship Troopers" because they wouldn't capture the "politics" of the situation...
Re "Stranger in a Strange Land" ... I personally would love to see that as a film along with "Time Enough for Love" ... but I don't think we'll see either in my lifetime...
StarShip troopers the movie was crap because the director is an idiot. I know one of the guys who did the special effects. and costumers. All of the special effect guys are fans, and wanted to do it right (and had the tech). The director didn't even read the book - just skimmed - so his "vision" would not be "tarnished". Idiot.
The cartoon versions from Foundation Imaging are great. Each was directed by a fan who worked at FI - and the other fans had to approve things.
I would like to see "Moon" made into a movie if they did it right - ie Manny has to have one hand (and I mean the 8actor* has to have one hand).
"The director didn't even read the book - just skimmed - so his 'vision' would not be 'tarnished'"
What a drongo -- I was so excited when I heard this had been made into a movie -- when I started watching it ... and the minutes went by ... and my mouth dropped ... and a little tear started rolling down my face ... I could not believe what I was seeing.
If "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" was made right it could be an incredible film -- but please GOD it's not made by the same dork who made "Troopers"
Mimsy Were the Borogoves was by Lewis Padgett (a pen name for Henry Kuttner and C. L. Moore writing as a team). It has already been twisted by Hollywood into "The Last Mimzy." Basically, they took the "toys from the future" part of the setup from the story and built an ecological disaster movie around it.
Speaking of Henry Kuttner, I think "Fury" might work well as a movie.
I hadn't realise Mimsy were the Borogoves had been filmed. Not sure I wanted to know that!
I'd forgotten the story until mentioned here though. I went out a bought an entire anthology of short stories just to get this one many years ago. Looking it up again reminded me of some other gems. Like "Microcosmic God" by Theodore Sturgeon - one of my all time favourite stories and well worth looking up. Also "The Nine Billion Names of God" (AC Clarke) and teh classic "Nightfall" by Asimov. The latter might make a film...
I have a feeling it was "The Science Fiction Hall of Fame, Vol. 1: 1929-1964" ed. Robert Silverberg. Originally published in 1970, I bought a second hand copy from a stall on Cambridge market in about 1983. Don't think I still have it but delighted to see it's back in print and available from Amazon.
I really enjoyed "The End of Eternity" and the "Foundation" trilogy. Another from Asimov that would make a good movie is "The Currents of Space." Some of the underlying "science" is now known to be invalid, but the story line is pretty good. It fits into the Foundation universe, but doesn't follow the "big mystery, search for the right planet" formula that some of his later books spent too much time on.
I don't remember remembering those ones, but after reading the synopses (Is that plural of synopsis?), I remember the characters Elijah Baley and Daneel Olivaw,so I must have read it at some time in the distant past.
Wikipedia says that "The Caves of Steele" was adapted for TV as part of an early 60's BBC anthology series.
How about Ender's Game (Orson Scott Card). I also vote for Moon is a Harsh Mistress, if they could do it right. They never did get the movie version of Dune right. From Larry Niven, maybe Ringworld or one of the Man-Kzin Wars books.
I know -- Dune was a major disappointment -- it says something when the "made for TV" version on the SiFi channel was better than the movie.
Now, it you want to talk Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle, I would LOVE to see "The Mote in God's Eye" and "Footfall" ... maybe even "Lucifer's Hammer" (but that sort of tale has been told a few times)
Harry Harrison - The Stainless Steel Rat (gloriously cheesy space opera)
I'll throw another vote in for the Asimov books, Foundation series as well as Caves of Steel etc.
The Larry Niven known space books (any of them) would be awesome.
Point noted - it would be more science fact than fiction.
How about Brian Stableford's "Halcyon Drift" (1972) or any of the five novels in the series that followed it?
Ah, I've just noticed that you approve of "Swan Song" which was the last in the series.
There are two series by Dan Simmons that could/should be made into a number of movies similar to the way "Harry Potter" was done. First, the "Hyperion"/"Endymion" series and second, "Illium" and "Olympos". Plenty of fantastic material for special effects and deep background levels of philosophy, politics, etc. to challenge the noggin.
WOW -- I just read the reviews -- I've added this to my wish list
My Mom went to Calcutta on business when I was a kid -- she told me some stuff about it when I was older -- what she told me matches up with what the reviews say about the author's portrayal
Most science fiction books that have been turned into movies have been disappointments, IMM. The one recent exception is the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and even that 3 part epic had to shortchange many of the subplots and much of the background that the books were able to bring out.
While I personally enjoyed both the “Hyperion/Endymion” series along with “Ender’s Game”, I feel that so much would have to be left out of a 2 or 3 hour movie of those books that most who go to see them would come away thinking “What was that all about?” The same goes for trying to make movie out of "Stranger in a Strange Land" or "Time Enough for Love".
I would like to see ROAM by the new young author Cole Fox be made into a movie. It has great characters, a fast paced story, and plenty of cool technology. It's one of my new favorites. I anxiously waiting on book two to be published.
In addition to some of the books others have brought up, I'd personally like to see any of British author Iain M. Banks books made into a movie. I'd recommend Culture-series books "Player of Games" or "Use of Weapons", or a later one like "Matter". These stories take place in immensely complex universes. You'd have to cut the story way back to fit into a movie, but even a shadow of one of these books could be awesome.
Start with "Player of Games" and I bet you'll be hooked!
I often buy books like this on biblio.com, used. It's a good option to Amazon's used-book sellers. Often more economical, especially for textbooks and paperbacks.
I have to apologize to Mr. Banks; in haste I described him as British. Actually, he's Scottish ;-).
I purposely didn't mention "I Robot" because what they did with the Will Smith version it makes me want to cry...
If they had just presented it as a generic Will Smith film I would have said "That's OK", but to tell me it's based on Asimov's book and to let me go to the cinema all excited and to leave me sitting there saying "What the ... flip is this?" ... well, someone somewhere should be ashamed of themselves is all I can say!!!
Frank Herbert tends to be a bit too cerebral to make into an effective movie. That's why the TV series of "Dune" was so much better than the movie. I'd love to see "Destination: Void", but it would fly over the heads of most viewers unless you did it as a mini-series.
But Frank Herbert book that possibly could be made into a movie would be "Whipping Star". Just enough of the difficulty in communication between Jorj and the Caleban could be left in.
Piers Anthony's series, "Bio of a Space Tyrant" would make a good TV miniseries on SciFi channel. Doubt it would do as well in a movie theatrical release.
As for movies, the Timothy Zahn Star Wars "Thrawn Trilogy," widely considered as Episodes 7,8,9 would make awesome movies, as long as they aren't nerfed by Lucas.
As you no doubt are aware, R A Heinlein read widely of other SF writers. One he admired was L. Neil Smith. I'd recommend 3 of Smith's novels as a start: The Probability Broach, Pallas and Ceres. I'd love to see these made into movies.
Wow -- I just took a look (you have to click on the image to start reading the graphic novel). I only had tome to read the first two pages, but I'm hooked -- I'll read the rest as soon as I get a spare minute --
Two things I've always appreciated in a movie are well written science-fiction and great humor. Oh... and ( three... three things... ) effects... great visual effects. A chance for my eyes to see the vistas of worlds that I obviously will never be able to witness within the short span of my own life.
Given what usually passes for most movie fare, I would be satisfied with two-out-of-three.
Sad to say, then, I suppose it's going to be a long while before anyone makes another attempt at a film based on the books of Douglas Adams. Especially now, I suppose, given that a recent tv-series rendering of the "Dirk Gently" novels has canceled after only one short season ( despite the protests of an enthusiastic fan base ). Oh, well.
For two-out-of-three, then, I think I'd like to see Niven's "The Integral Trees" made into a big-budget film. In 3-D. Don't think one could be more visually stunning than that.
Perhaps after Cameron wraps things up on Pandora...
Then again ( for another two-out-of-three subset ), I've long wished that someone would do a sequel to Alec Guinness' "The Man in the White Suit" ( ... a sequel... NOT, I repeat, NOT a remake! ). Not a novel, of course, but I've always wondered what could have happened to Stratton, after he marched off, with renewed confidence, down that lonely dusk-lit industrial lane.
In the Graphic-Novel-to-Movie department, "Girl Genius", of course ( once the Foglio's wrap it up... maybe in the next year or two ). Could... be a good one... depending on who stars and who directs.
And again, in the Computer-Game-to-Movie department... well, the "Myst" series has been, kind-of-more-or-less, "in-the-works" for several years now. Could be another visual stunner. But, we'll just have to wait and see.
The suggestions for a poll over a year ago at The Register (http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/04/19/sci_fi_poll/) might provide some decent input.
Among the works not listed there, I would be tempted to add The Mote in God's Eye (good drama and good opportunity for special effects as well as some intellectual content), The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress, and Ender's Game (as others have mentioned here).
One problem with selecting a book for making a movie is that some good books are not well suited to film as a medium and even when a somewhat faithful translation is possible a translation of general meaning (comparable to a paraphrasing for translations between languages) might be more appropriate than a more precise translation (comparable to a word-for-word oriented translation).
Precise translation (with footnotes) is desirable for academic use, but common use tends to prefer a looser translation.
There are also, of course, difficulties in translation analogous to difficulties in translating between cultures and even just between languages (e.g., poetry tends to translate very poorly--even Biblical Hebrew poetry, which is largely based on parallelism of meaning, does not translate precisely--and intellectual awareness of verbal features like word-play, alliteration, or rhyme and of the cultural perspectives of the author and original audience does not have the same emotional impact as might have been felt by the original audience).
"One problem with selecting a book for making a movie is that some good books are not well suited to film as a medium..."
I agree -- that's why in the ones I suggest I try to visualize how it would look on film "in my mind's eye" as it were...
Hmmm -- I hadn't heard of these before, but I just checked them up on the Internet and they do sound like they could make interesting movies (you would want to do each book as a separate film).
Marîd Audran sounds a bit like a cyber-punk version of "Cut-Me-Own-Throat Dibbler" from the Discworld series
I think you mean "The Fountains of Paradise"
I'm not sure -- this was a bit of a rambling story in some respects -- not sure it would translate into a good film (not that I don;t like Space Elevators, you understand)
Max the Magnificient: I was thinking it would be terrific to consolidate all these books into a single Amazon wishlist and share it with the other readers. But since you already have one, can you please share it with us? Appreciate it. Thanks,
By Neal Stephenson:
Snowcrash - it would need to be trimmed down, but it has a lot of great elements.
Zodiac - the Eco-activist chemist
the Atrocity files books (higher math does magic, causing Bad Things to come into the world; the Laundry, a secret English agency fights them).
This is a series, with Old Man's war as the first.
Max, with respect to the "Dirk Gently" DVD: well, it's available through Amazon, of course, but apparently those still ship from overseas.
Another problem is the DVD format ( PAL ).
I'm still considering a purchase though, out of respect to an author who should have had more time... but I'd really prefer something that could play on my combo tv/dvd set. So I may wait for just a little bit longer.
You might want to read some of the online reviews ( and view the youtube teasers and trailers ) as it looks like the production was not entirely faithful to the characters in the books ( ... are they ever? ).
And notably missing was the "Electric Monk". Though... I suspect that perhaps they had simply been saving him for a later point... if the series had gained a firm foothold. But no such luck.
Still... some reviews suggested it remained true to Adams' style ( one reviewer concluded "The world needs Dirk Gently." ). And I suppose that is what really counts.
Oh... *whew!*... just so long as it had no intentions of altering history!
Anyway, my mistake... the Electric Monk apparently does make an appearance, after all... but only as a scribbled note on Dirk's dry-erase board.
A "Virtual Electric Monk"... or the probability of an Electric Monk, perhaps?
Apparently David Weber’s “On Basilisk Station” in the Honor Harrington series is going to be made into a movie. It is one of the shorter stories in the series and will hopefully translate well into the movie format.
I see that someone has just mentioned "The City and the Stars". As the book which was single-handedly responsible for my lifetime addiction to SF, I would love to see it filmed. It has the potential to be as visionary in this age as 2001 was all those years ago.
And, if noone has yet mentioned it, "Glory Road" gets a vote from me.
I enthusiastically second nominations for Asimov's Caves of Steel books. They weren't just good SF, they were good stories too.
Part 1: Agreed with some of the previous suggestions - at least agreeing that I would be nice to see MY (our) personally envisaged movie version of those favorite stories mentioned here.
Unless I was directing, editing, filming, acting and rendering the cgi though, no one, nor any group of cinematic geniuses can portray in film what a book does inside my head.
Leaving the philosophical: it needs to be remembered that most films are "short stories" in length. (One reason why Dune was such an epic failure; same, partially, for John Carter; same, partially, for all three of the LotR films. Yes, I am, a purist.)
Because of the reality of restricted length, as well as budgetary, audience engagement and other factors, I suggest looking to short stories and the shorter-length "novels" of the 50s, 60's, 70's.
part 2: One novel that immediately leaps to mind is Rogue Moon. Only 3 sets required, only 4 main characters and only one major piece of SFX. What could be more compelling for a subject than a man with a death wish, forced to confront the agony of death over, and over, and over and over...?
Knock would make a great short film;
Yes, love to see some Heinlein up on the screen - but: Glory Road won't translate, I don't think and you'd never be able to convey the essential libertarianism of Star & Gordon's relationship (and I think it safe to assume that most audiences would not buy Gordon's subservience to Star, nor her actual superiority - they just wouldn't be able to buy it after all the feats of derring do that Gordon displays); Time of the Stars - SF has largely abandoned 'psi' powers and Tunnel in the Sky - how do you make it anything other than Lord of the Flies in Space? Those in the know would be able to tell the difference, but the critics wouldn't, damning it from the very beginning. If you want to mine Heinlein, go for the shorts - All You Zombies, for example.
Another author who lends himself very well to film (and has already been translated thusly) is the recently late Harry Harrison. My fave would be the Deathworld trilogy, but in remaining practical, I have to go with either The Technicolor Time Machine or Star Smashers of the Galaxy Rangers (both comedies). And given that TTTM is about Hollywood and film-making, that one gets the nod.
Your /Rogue Moon/ suggestion also makes me think of James White's /Tomorrow Is Too Far/; one of his best works, that got overshadowed by his "Sector General" series.
For Harry Harrison, my vote goes to /Bill, the Galactic Hero/... :-)
Four movies based on John Scalzi amazing books:
1) Old Man War
2) Ghost Brigades
3) Last Colony
- these are the three parts of a SciFi war drama mixed with a love story with many funny parts. The size and complexity of each book is perfect for a movie.
4) Agent to the Stars
- the last one is a comedy mixed wth a love story during alien arrival and takes place in L.A.
I just remembered "Ghost Country" by Patrick Lee -- this one had me gripping my knees shouting "get out of there!!!" I think it would make a BRILLIANT film http://www.amazon.com/Ghost-Country-Patrick-Lee/dp/0061584444
My, but this has been a popular thread! Though not surprising, I suppose, given that storytelling ( and therefore "storylistening" ) might be one of those key evolutionary factors particularly peculiar to the human species.
Anyway, one more for the road, then. So... of course, Time-Travel stories rank among the favorite on my short list of obsessive preoccupations.
Given that, then certainly John Crowley's novella "Great Work of Time" has to be one of the best and strangest of that genre's "changing-the-past-changes-the-future" sub-genre . It basically has everything you could ask for in terms of reality-bending alternities combined with good old-fashioned Victorian sensibilities.
As such it might also make a good film if... and ONLY if... done correctly. Something like... oh, say, tossing Martin Scorsese ( "Hugo" ) and Zack Snyder ( "Sucker Punch" ) into a blender in order to try and synthesize a new director.
... or would you just end up that way with Uwe Boll?
I think it was a Robert Forward book with time travel, where he put a note in the front that said he would argue only with folks who could give a reasoned response to a particular paper he had based his time-travel tech on.
He had a great scene where three different versions (ie different ages) all showed up at the same time for an evening with his/their wife. No details (Forward was not *that* forward :^), but she could not object - each was her husband...
On a different note: Brin's "Earth" - at least 18 of his predictions have come true. "Star Tide Rising" could be done - the tech is here or almost here.
"...she could not object - each was her husband..."
What planet do you live on? She could object even if (a) only one of them was there and (b) all he had done was sit in the corner and not said anything
Sorry, am I "projecting" again? :-)
Max: Sorry, am I "projecting" again? :-)
Umm ... Yep!
IIRC, it had been a long time between any visits and she was glad to see him. and him, And him.
But - point taken. Men are digital, Women are analog, and the signal can be rather noisy. With some, the s/n ratio is pretty bad.
Please note I answer only to my former Marine wife.... I had better hide for a while ....
When you said "former marine wife" I at first read this as "former wife" ... and then I heard the sound of stomping feet approaching your office and I realized you mean your wife who used to be a marine ... good luck...
Max: you got it correct - she was a Marine (as much as any Marine is a "former Marine" :^) - I keep the First Rule Of Holes in mind at all times....
The marriage ends when one of us leaves feet-first. Hopefully far in the future.
A good book - #1 of a trilogy: "Leviathan Rising" - has a female Marine that reminded me of home.
This sounds really good -- I just went to Amazon and almost purchased it -- and then I thought about all of the other books I already have piled up waiting for me ... so I added it to my wish list instead...
The fact that I gain so many book suggestions is a lucky by-product (my Wish List on Amazon is currently around 50 book sand DVDs) ... plus I have piles of books already her in my office waiting for my attention...
I just checked it on Amazon -- it had mixed reviews, but I want it just to read that time travel story so I've added it to my wishlist -- I also added "Otherwise: Three Novels" but again this got mixed reviews -- have you read this?
"I also added "Otherwise: Three Novels" but again this got mixed reviews -- have you read this?"
No... but in this, as in so many other things... well, I've been meaning to.
Anyway, that's the useful thing about topics like this - with so many things keeping us all spinning in circles these days, and... all possibilities of Hollywood realizing it could do better aside... it serves as a reminder that we've all got a lot of reading to get caught up on.
By the way, you mentioned "Discworld" above ( ... and, lately, I've been trying to get caught up on Pratchett ) - it would probably be next to impossible to do the books justice in a movie... but a series ( like a... maybe somewhat more, but not TOO much more... "family-friendly" answer to "Game of Thrones" ) might be great!
With respect to the mixed reviews: I've usually found that there's always something interesting to be found in things that people either love or hate. And that, usually, the folks who hate it have some sort of an obscure ax-to-grind. Then again, some folks can simply appreciate competent word-smithing for it's own sake... and for some it's just no substitute for raw action and adventure.
There is a series of books, originally written by Keith Laumer, about sentient tanks, as in space wars, etc, designated as 'BOLOs'. Several authors have taken up the theme,and produced a number of quality SF stories.
I recall thinking why don't they have a movie about this?
Thinking about it, this theme (sentient tanks) also appeared in "Cemetery World" by Clifford D. Simak...
Which leads me to wonder why I didn't think of his "Way Station" -- that would make an AMAZING film...
Way Station - YES! One of my absolute favorites. Simple sets and location.
Also one of the first descriptions in SF of a Virtual Environment - his basement, where he can hunt anything in a totally emersive environment.
(Outer Limits did a version of "The Velte".)
I've never really been a fan of Poul Anderson -- but the reviews on this one are rather good so .. .you guessed it -- I've added it to my Wish List (I must have more than $1000 of books and DVDs on my Wish List by now ... I keep chipping away at it (buying a few now and then), but it's growing way faster than I can keep up with it...
Poul did two types; Hard SF in the future, and fantasy based on Norse mythology.
Then he did other ones.. like "The High Crusade", which i suspect came from his SCA activities.
One reason i am a fan of Poul is he was very approachable to fans. He would listen carefully and have a reasoned conversation with just about anybody, including kids (and kids in fandom tend to be pretty sharp, because they are expected to be).
"Space Prison" aka "The Survivors" by Tom Godwin, sequel is "The Space Barbarians". Read them as a kid, went and found them as an adult.
bad-a** aliens, terrible conditions, overcome said conditions, great "wolves", killer crossbows, big fight scenes at the end.
Buff guys in leather for the gals ...
And chicks in leather for the guys. ^:)
And can get them via Amazon.
On a related note... that is, great science-fiction books ( about people who want to change the world... or just other people... for it's, or their, own good ) that have actually produced a cinematic adaptation:
Way way back in 1979 PBS produced it's very own made-for-tv movie. True... it was low budget. True... it was a *long* time ago. But it was also faithfully adapted from Ursula K. Le Guin's "The Lathe of Heaven".
Therefore... A Good One! Catch it ( and not, I repeat... NOT, the remake done a few years later ) if you can. It can be had from Amazon ( ... *ahem*... for a price! )... but also *seems* to be up on youtube.
The BBC did a 4 hour version of "Hogs Watch" a few years ago. Really good job, with Pratchett doing a cameo at the end. No way to cut it down to a 2 hour movie.
BTW - Yang The Nauseating (Robert Lynn Asprin) was found dead with a Pratchett novel in hand.
Thanks for that info!
In checking availability I found "HOGFATHER" ( as well as "The Color of Magic", and "Going Postal" ) at Amazon, of course. But I also found it locally, available for rental at Blockbuster. So, I went right out and picked it up.
A thoroughly enjoyable production! Even though made on a modest budget!... what a standard Hollywood BIG budget could have done!
Still, it was actually more satisfying, ultimately, than a couple of other recent Hollywood big-time box-office hits that I rented at the same time. So this one will certainly be purchased for going into my personal collection!
I love just about anything and everything to do with Terry Pratchett and the Discworld -- but I have to say that the movie version of "Going Postal" totally exceeded my expectations -- it was as close to the way I'd imagined it as I think you could get ... and all of the characters were absolutely perfect...
I'd love to see one of Terry's other books treated this way...
Ho ho! The wonderful world of EE Doc Smith, full of duodecaplylatomate bombs and the never-ending wat between pressor and tractor beams! I think the biggest problem with those was keeping the hyperbole going through seven books (well, six really as the main story had finished at the end of the sixth). Each book just had to be bigger, blastier, ballsier than the last. Re-read them all recently and they were still a ripping good read thirty five years after I read them for the first time. Quite unique.
Filmable? Not sure, to be honest! But I'd like to see someone try...
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