The film industry is replete with films that are derived from great science fiction books and almost to a one they fail.
I’m sure many of you shudder at the thought of some of these films and I do too, but for some reason the film industry insists, every once in a while, to tackle some great work of science fiction literature and promptly obliterate it.
Here are some books I hope and pray never come across some studio executive’s desk:
Neuromancer (1984) by William Gibson. This is the book that gave us the term cyberpunk. After I first read it I couldn’t get enough. I so wanted to be ‘jacked-in’. Even today Gibson’s internet is so much more inviting than the porn saturated internet we are using right now.
I see by imdb that Neuromancer is ‘in development’ and I only hope that it’s a bad joke. While I have no doubt that with today’s CGI effects it could be visually appealing, I don’t think any director today could bring the atmosphere of Neuromancer to life.
Revelation Space (2000) by Alastair Reynolds. This book is heavy with grim atmosphere. I shudder to think what some Hollywood type would alter the story to make it more ‘filmable’. And I’m sure the executives of any studio would water down this 18+ universe to something more 13+ profitable. A film version of Revelation Space could never grip me by the throat the way the book did. At least not a version that would be made today.
On Basilisk Station (1993) by David Weber. Actually this book reads like a film. It’s fast paced and very exciting and Honor Harrington is one of my favourite characters from science fiction. I can picture a couple of actresses today that could probably do Honor justice, however, I could equally see someone like Michael Bay turning this book into a farce a la Pearl Harbor or the equally terrible Transformers.
Perhaps it should be tried out as a comic book first. At least that intermediate step would give a would-be director something to go on.
Altered Carbon (2002) by Richard Morgan. This book is gripping and exciting. The perfect mix for filming right. Wrong. Takeshi Kovacs would become Tom Kovacs and the United Nations Envoy would become the U. S. Marines or some such. Minor changes such as that would not be noticed by the general public, but to a fan of Richard Morgan’s creations it would be maddening to sit through. Altered Carbon deserves to remain unsullied by insipid screenwriting from people who have no business attempting a book such as this.
It sounds as if I take no pleasure in films or the film industry, but that is furthest from the truth. I see a film almost every week or so and since I spend my hard-earned money to sit and be entertained, I simply hate the continually disappointing offerings that are billed as science fiction. I can only hope that one day Hollywood and its ilk will realise their mistakes and do something to rectify it. When that day happens science fiction fans will really be in for a treat.