ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED ON 9/2/09
Last Week I ranted a bit about how Hollywood never makes intelligent SF movies. I totally understand their reticence to shoot for the top, and make intelectual SF films, but they could at least shoot for the middle now and again.
Today I'm gonna' give a list of authors who've got solid, smart work that would hold people's interest without going over the line in to bewildering people or intelectually overpowering them. None of this stuff is dumb, none of these authors are dumb, but at the same time it's stuff that would be accessible by the common person.
* LARRY NIVEN:
I have no idea, no freaking idea whatsoever, why Larry Niven isn't big mojo in H'wood. He's my favorite living writer. He's got eleventy zillion books, most of them are pretty good, a lot of them are great, and he's got a few undisputed classics under his belt. "Mote" and "Ringworld" scream out to be filmed, and though "Footfall" isn't my favorite book, damn would it make a fine movie! Better as a movie than a book, really. Honestly, I don't understand it at all. I know a lot of his stories have been optioned at one point or another, but nothing's ever made it to the big screen.
* DAVID GERROLD:
While on the subject, why the hell haven't any David Gerrold books been filmed? Ok, "Martian Child," sure, but that doesn't count since it's not Science Fiction. I want a "Starwolf" movie, or "When Harlie Was 1," or whatever. Again, I can't understand it. "The War Against the Ctorr" could be a great intelligent actioner series with installments coming out every year or so like the Middle Earth, Narnia, and Harry Potter films.
* JERRY POURNELLE:
Easily a half-dozen books in the "Codominion" series are filmable, pulse-pounding thinking-man's action stories. Think "French Foreign Legion in Space." And of course the entire series culminates in a book who's actual title I won't say because it's blasphemous. He co-wrote it with Niven, I cited it above. Title notwithstanding, it's the best first-contact novel ever written.
* HARRY HARRISON:
Actually, one of his novels, "Make Room, Make Room," did get filmed as "Soylent Green," but I think everyone can agree that was garbage. What really needs to be filmed, however, are the Stainless Steel Rat stories, the tales of Jimmie DiGrizz, a future conman, theif, and occasionally, a conman and theif for the government. The stories are fast, funny, thought provoking, and there's a zillion of them. Jimmy DiGrizz could and should be the James Bond of the Science Fiction film world, and there's a ton of supporting characters (His eventual wife, their kids) that you could even do spinoffs if you wanted.
* J.G. BALLARD:
I'm not suggesting that hollywood sould try, or even consider, making most of his books, but I would strongly suggest "Hello America," which is a great spin on postapocalysm and environmental collapse, as well as a ribald commentary on American culture.
* STANISLAW LEM:
Granted, his excellent novel, "Solaris," has been filmed -badly- twice. Let's just stick a pin in that one for the time being. The fact is he's got a number of great books. "The Cyberiad," would make a great (Though horribly sacreligious) Pixar movie. "The Invincible," played just right, could be the greatest, scariest implacable, inscrutable aliens-trying-to-kill-us movie since the original Alien.
* RUDY RUCKER:
There has yet to be a seminal Steampunk movie, and I humbly suggest "The Inner World," could be it. His "Ware" series - the first two installments, anyway - would be amazing, creepy, sexy movie fare. "The Hacker and the Ants" could easily be a powerful thriller a'la North by Northwest.
* GEORGE O. SMITH:
I'll be the first person to admit that Smith's amazingly geeky paens to the glories of the vaccuume tube are more-than-a-bit dated, and distractingly technical in places, but once you get past that, they're endless fun. Take his "Venus Equilateral" series: Tart 'em up a bit, cut out the 1940s exposition, conflate some of the stories with the longer ones, and there's easily two or three movies worth of material here, and they're unlike anything else that's ever been filmed: stories about people on a space station charged with keeping communications running throughout the solar system, who, alas, end up breaking the entire civilization they're trying to keep running, and then replace it with something better.
* STEVEN CALDWELL (AKA STEWART COWLEY)
This one's a guilty pleasure - a series of coffee table books from the late 1970s featuring all kinds of space art. The pictures were tied together in just the thinnnest whisp of a story which, taken in concert with the other books, gave a tantalizing outline of a future history. There's not a guy alive my age (Excepting some from New Jersey) who liked Science Fiction as a kid who didn't love, love, love these books. I still love 'em despite - or perhaps because - they're not really that good. But they're better than they should be, the product of a rare intersection of elements that probably will never be repeated, and I promise you there's a legion of geeks in their early 40s out there who've been dreaming of a movie based on these things for their entire lives.
And that's just off the top of my head. The rest of you - what are some books and authors that should be made in to SF moves, but haven't been stripmined by H'wood yet?