Science fiction books are coming to the screen


Big screen, small screen, whatever. In 2020, the lines are sometimes blurry. In 2016, I wrote an article examining four optional sci-fi books as movies. Since then we have seen Altered carbon on netflix, and we know that Amazon Prime is already engaged in primary photography for a Wheel of time series.

One of the books I wrote about in 2016 and look forward to the most is the adaptation of Robert H Wilson Robopocalypse. Despite what I consider an unfortunate title, Robopocalypse was a great piece of science fiction. The robots weren’t humanoids, they were functional and efficient: self-driving cars and swarms of rolling smart grenades. It all made sense and the story unfolded pretty much the same as another of my favorite books: Second World War. Shortly after the first true AI, named Archos, emerges in a controlled laboratory, she ingeniously escapes from the laboratory into another computer system and decides that the only way to save lives on Earth is to eliminate a only invasive species: humanity.

The story of Archos’ spread and struggle is a far more realistic and terrifying version of a machine uprising than what is depicted in Terminator. Michael Bay will direct, which I’m not particularly excited about, but Drew Goddard writes the screenplay, and he’s done screenplays for The Martian and Cabin in the woods, both excellent. So I have high hopes.

The Martian was a good book and a good movie. Andy Weir’s second book, Artemis, is a good story and worth reading, if you can forget the fact that the main female character in the story reads as if it had been written by a man. Artemis should be suitable for cinema and released in 2021. There doesn’t seem to be a casting yet, but for my part, I’m hoping for a great movie out of the book.

by Hugh Howey Silo the series would have been in development at AMC since last year. Although it is difficult to get more recent news, IMDB page is still turning. I read Wool and Change, and they’re part of my next level of sci-fi.

Children of time by Adrian Tchaikovsky caused a sensation this year. I met three other friends who had read it along with me, and none of us recommended it. It was optioned in 2017 and there haven’t been many since, but hopefully it’s still in the making.

Children of time is a story set in the distant future in which a distant planet is terraformed for human habitation. The inhabitants are believed to be apes infected with a modified virus that will enhance and speed up their evolution, so that they will become pseudo-humans relatively quickly. However, interstellar warfare breaks out before the multigenerational process is complete, the apes are never delivered to the new world, and the virus takes hold in the insects instead.

I was a big fan of the book Ready, player one, but even though I was looking forward to the movie, I ended up not liking it. It could be the many script changes, or whatever was lost in the translation from book to film. I am not sure. The scene of The brilliant was actually the only part I thought it worked. Anyway, I hope that Armada may be a better fit.

Armada is in many ways a tale of The last star hunter. The young man’s video game skills qualify him to fight real aliens in a real interstellar war. The story is not revolutionary, but it is fun.

Cixin Liu’s The three body problem is a science fiction novel translated from Chinese to English, and it looks like it is being adapted for cinema in China, with predominantly Chinese actors. I just hope the result is better than the 2019 movie The Wandering Earth, which I struggled to see until the end.

I read all three books in the Remembering Earth’s Past series, and my take on the first book is that it was confusing, slow-paced, and ended anticlimactically. The second book, Dark forest, was better. The third book, the end of death, was by far the best of the series. It’s only sad that it took so long to get there. I have high hopes but low expectations for this film.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any recent updates on a book-movie adaptation for Twirl by Robert Charles Wilson, an exceptional book that has the potential to be a downright incredible movie, and nothing on Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel, which had at one point been the subject of an option.

With streaming services popping up like Dandelions these days, I’m willing to bet we’ll see more optional sci-fi books as movies in the days to come.

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