With the trailer for Star Trek coming out a bit ago and The Day the Earth Stood Still hitting theaters this weekend, we’ve all been thinking a lot about science fiction lately. Looking back on the modern theatrical history, there haven’t been that many good science fiction films for a pretty good span. So we decided to do some of the work for Hollywood and find them 10 science fiction books that are ready for the big screen treatment.
10. “Neuromancer” (William Gibson, 1984). This cyberpunk story has tried to make it to the big screen a few times, but never quite got there. Neuromancer was one of the first of its kind and Gibson coined the term “cyberspace” in creating a world where everyone was connected via technology. In the novel, Henry Case is recruited for his skills as a hacker and gets embroiled in a complex web that involves Artificial Intelligence and even an attempted invasion of the Soviet Union that features ultra-light aircraft and laser defenses.
9. “The Gods Themselves” (Isaac Asimov, 1972). Asimov’s self-professed favorite story revolves around a group of aliens from a parallel universe that want to work with our universe to create an immense source of energy, but really they’re out to benefit from the process despite the fact it will eventually make our sun go Super Nova. Aliens are assholes! The book is rare among Asimov’s work because he spends a great deal of time explaining the complex alien life forms and their roles.
8. “Gateway” (Frederik Pohl, 1977). Winning the Hugo, Nebula, and John W. Campbell awards means that this story is awesome. Humans find “The Gateway,” a hollow asteroid that served as a base for a missing alien race. Left behind are very advanced spaceships, which our puny brains can’t figure out. All we basically decipher is how to hit the ignition – the ship then goes off to destinations unknown and returns automatically, if it returns at all. The novel is awesome for these adventures and also for dealing with a monster black hole and time dilation.
7. “A Deepness in the Sky” (Vernor Vinge, 1999). Two human civilizations attempt to exploit a race of arachnid like aliens (imaginatively called “spiders”) that are becoming technologically advanced. Humans being humans, however, one side attacks the other with a virus. When their ships are damaged however, the two groups slowly intermingle while waiting for the Spiders to advance enough in technology to manufacture the required bits to fix their ships.
6. “Armor” (John Steakley, 1984). Need some action alongside your thinking? This book follows a war between men and aliens, where the aliens are 9 foot tall bug like creatures and the humans wear powered armor to whip some ass. Not totally about ass kicking, the story delves deeply into the emotional state of those within the armor, who face hell in a hellish world. The protagonist, Felix, has a tough time dealing with war, but an even tougher time when he realizes how good he is at it.
5. “Earth Abides” (George R. Stewart, 1949). A post-apocalyptic look at the world after humanity has been decimated by disease. The book takes a darker look at the future and what would happen if humanity was reset to virtually zero. How long would society last? What kind society would re-emerge? For the answers, which aren’t all sunshine and rainbows, bring this book to the big screen.
4. “A Fire Upon The Deep” (Vernor Vinge, 1992). Loosely related to A Deepness in the Sky, this complex and deep story features space battles, betrayals, genocide, and an enemy intelligence that multiplies at a rapid rate. Cinematically, this film would be epic to look at it, with giant space battles and other assorted crazy alien goings on.
3. “Old Man’s War” (John Scalzi, 2005). Imagine being a 75 year old man and signing up for the military. Your signing bonus? A genetically modified body, maxed out for strength, speed, and stamina. John Perry joins the Colonial Defense Force and heads out to whip some ass and in doing so, finds a woman who looks surprisingly like a young, sprightly version of his deceased wife.
2. “The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress” (Robert A. Heinlein, 1966). A Hugo Award winner from Starship Troopers author Robert Heinlein, this story takes place some 80 years after colonies have existed on the Moon. Those who stay there long enough can never adapt back to life on Earth and soon the Lunar residents revolt against Earth, fighting for their independence. Want some awesome? How about a giant moon catapult blasting rocks at Earth or an invasion of the moons surface by soldiers who have never fought in such low gravity? You got it.
1. “Stranger in a Strange Land” (Robert A. Heinlein, 1961). I make no apologies for loving Robert A. Heinlein’s work. I dig it. Normally, the man isn’t afraid of praising the military and launching a whole lot of kick ass. However, in this Hugo award winner, which has never gone out of print, he focuses more on religion and society. Valentine Smith is a human who was raised on Mars (by Martians!) who then returns to Earth with superhuman abilities and struggles to find his place in a culture that is completely alien to him. The book delves deep into theories on religion, including some cool ones that allow orgies, and the true nature of Smith is debatable. A smart novel that deserves a big screen adaptation.
And that will do it for us, folks! Ten great stories that should be on the big screen. Whether you want hardcore space battles, philosophical journeys through Earth and space, or just some great post-apocalyptic fiction, we’ve got it covered here. Hopefully with two pretty big Sci-Fi releases over the next few months Hollywood will figure out that there is a great wealth of material out there, waiting to be plucked from the page and projected on the big screen.
What science fiction stories would you like to see made into movies? Which of these sounds best to you?