Your Obedient Serpent (athelind) wrote,
Your Obedient Serpent

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Athelind's Library: Books That Should Be Filmed

This is going to be part of an ongoing but sporadic series of entries about SF/Fantasy Books I Recommend. In part, it's a response to araquan's long-standing request for a list of recommendations for someone new to SF literature.

This installment deals with books that I think would translate well to the screen -- mostly the large screen. I've deliberately left out some well-known, household-name SF classics, because I don't think they'd translate all that well to the screen, for any number of reasons. This means that, in a couple of cases, I've picked lesser-known and less-popular works by a given author, simply because I think their pacing or structure or concepts are better-suited to the visual media.

Here we go:

The Token Fantasy Novel:
Farmer Giles of Ham, by J.R.R. Tolkien. 1949.
Yeah, yeah, that whole Ring nonsense. It's long, it's overblown, it plods in places. Peter Jackson's done a unbelievable job of translating it to the cinema, but honestly, it was poorly-suited for the silver screen. This tale of a hapless farmer and a cheerfully wicked dragon has punch and pacing, a solid, integrated storyline, and a classic three-act structure. It also has one of the three best-written dragon characters in all of fantasy literature. It would take very little effort to turn Farmer Giles into a damned funny screenplay. Animated? Probably. A live-action version with a CGI Chrysophylax would prompt too many comparisons to a certain Sean Connery film.

The Stars My Destination, by Alfred Bester. 1956.
You'll see this one again when I do "Athelind's Top Ten Favorite Science Fiction Novels". It just wholly rocks. Obsession, vendetta, intrigue, and a tattooed, cybernetically-enhanced anti-hero in a world where almost everyone can teleport -- it's got everything. And it all works. Of all the ones on this list, this is the one that might be hardest to translate to film -- and might be the one that most deserves the effort.

The Shockwave Rider, by John Brunner. 1975.
Brunner, come to think of it, has a knack for writing tight, well-structured stories around gripping concepts that would make excellent films. I'd also put The Sheep Look Up, The Stone That Never Came Down, and The Infinitive of Go on the movie list.

Sundiver, by David Brin
Brin's first novel, first in the "Uplift" saga -- and by all reports, his least favorite. Oddly, it's my favorite of his works, and frankly, I think its neatly-drawn story and well-crafted mystery make it much more cinematic than the baroque, turgid Startide Rising, which I understand is under development.

And finally:
The Sector General Series, by James White.
This series of novels and short stories about a massive space hospital catering to a staggering variety of alien races would make a superb television series, a cross between Babylon 5 and ER.
The creators of Mercy Point sure thought so. Too bad that, when they decided not to bother with the rights to White's work, they also decided to leave out the most intriguing and charming aspects of the original. Without the interaction between the different races and the recurring plot elements of first contacts occuring during medical emergencies, the premise turned into a second-rate hospital soap with stories that could have been told just as well in an Earthbound hospital.

More later.

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