Ten Great Science Fiction Novels that Would Make Terrible Movies

November 11th, 2008

I’m going to hammer some popular books, books that I love, but for a number of reasons these stories just won’t translate well to the big screen.   Maybe some brilliant director could do it, or the stories could be rewritten, or made into mini-series, or something, but I don’t see any winners here in the summer movie schedule, ever.

Startide Rising, by David Brin. Smart dolphins look dumb on film.   Remember Johnny Mnemonic?   And underwater chase scenes never come off that cool, either.

Ender’s Game, by Orson Scott Card.   Let ´s watch the kid play video games instead of actually fighting aliens, or playing a video game ourselves.   Why isn’t Ender’s Game a super-popular game on Xbox?

A Fire Upon the Deep, by Vernor Vinge   Because of the alien multi-minded dog creatures, duh!   Cool to read about, and think about.   Confusing and dumb to watch.

The Gods Themselves by Issac Asimov.   Extra-dimensional alien scientists?   Multi-minded merging creatures?   Stories that connect only tangentially?   Hard to follow I bet.

The Vor Game, by Lois McMasters Bujold.   Or any of the other popular Miles Vorkosigan books in the series.   Because reading about someone who is, for want of a better word, physically challenged, is a whole lot more engaging than watching.   Audiences are shallow.

Doomsday Book, by Connie Willis.   Who wants to watch people get the plague and die for a couple of hours?

Hyperion by Dan Simmons.   Maybe this could be a great mini-series, but it would be a mess crammed into a two-hour movie.   I would love to see the Shrike come to life, however…

The Dispossessed by Ursula K. LeGuin.   Intellectual and introspective, a great read, but unlikely to carry to the big screen.   I mean, if A Wizard of Earthsea can get screwed up so badly as what we saw on the sci0fi channel, this one has no hope.

Timescape, by Gregory Benford.   As much as I hate to say it, this book brilliantly captures the culture and daily life of science, which is why it would fail on film.

The Dragon’s Egg, by Robert Forward.   First, this book lacks for human characters and much of a plot from our point of view.   And a history of microscopic aliens on a world so alien it might as well be virtual, well, not much to engage the emotions.   Hard to even imagine what this story would look like from the alien perspective.

Did I miss something obvious?   Disagree?


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