Science Fiction

Hey Hollywood! Dune Worked and So Can These Other Sci-Fi Books!

1984 was arguably one of the greatest years for Hollywood movies…ever.

In that calendar year, we got Ghostbusters, The Terminator, The Karate Kid, Gremlins, Temple of Doom, Sixteen Candles, Amadeus, The Neverending Story, Police Academy, Romancing the Stone, Beverly Hills Cop, and…Dune.

Can you pick the box office flop out of that lineup?

Fast forward to 2021 and technology, coupled with the right vision from the director, gave us a box office smash in the new Dune movie. It raked in nearly $434 million and won five Oscars at a time when COVID was on everyone’s mind and it was ravaging the movie industry. With superhero movies fading from the spotlight, Dune: Part Two is making headlines with a whopping $178 million worldwide in it’s opening weekend. By the time you read this, it will overtake Wonka as the top grossing movie of our young 2024.

This movie should show Hollywood two things. First, sci-fi movies can be a massive hit once again if they are done correctly (looking at you, Prometheus and Covenant). Second, the audience is ready for something fresh and creatively original. Something needs to fill the impending void that Marvel will leave us and where better for the industry to turn than science fiction? Here are some novels that could really shake things up in the future and it’s time for Hollywood to brush the dust off and have a look at them.

Rendezvous With Rama

Published in 1973 and written by the legendary Arthur C. Clarke, this novel is currently in pre-production with Denis Villeneuve at the helm. You know, the same guy who just rocked Dune. Technically this shouldn’t make my list since it is already being worked on, but hey, this should get sci-fi fans pumped. It is being financed by Alcon Entertainment, who also worked with Denis on Blade Runner: 2049. The novel itself is considered a cornerstone of Clarke’s work and won several awards.

The “Rama” of the title is an alien starship weighing at least ten trillion tons, initially mistaken for an asteroid categorized as “31/439”. It is detected by astronomers in the year 2131 while it is still outside the orbit of Jupiter. We send a ship to study it while it passes through our solar system and the interior of this perfect cylinder holds mysteries and wonders that defy our imaginations.

Press on, Denis, this one deserves your guiding hand.

Sailing inside the cylinder art by Pablo Palomeque

 

The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress

We’re going back to 1966 with this gem from Robert Heinlein. The story centers around a revolutionary war as the colonies on the moon have declared independence from Earth. The three million inhabitants of the moon? Criminals and political outcasts, of course! What better place to build a penal colony? There are plenty of subjects tackled in the novel including oppression by a faraway power, gender equality, and economic dependency, but who doesn’t love a good war?

Bryan Singer was attached to a movie in 2015, but given his disturbing behavior in the past few years, the project fizzled. It deserves a jump start.

Image from Mythgard.net

The Long Tomorrow

Leigh Brackett wrote this in 1955, 25 years before writing the script to the Empire Strikes Back. It is one of the first novels to show the United States of America in a post-nuclear holocaust wasteland. For a society that loves seeing a dystopian future (Cue the theme song for The Walking Dead), the movie-going audience should eat this up. This new USA adopts the Thirtieth Amendment, which disallows the presence of more than a thousand residents or the existence of more than two hundred buildings per square mile anywhere in the United States. They have also decided to forego all technology, after seeing what that tech led to in the first place.

Goodbye TikTok, hello Green Acres.

Len Colter and his cousin Esau live in one of these small communities, but are fascinated by “what once was” and inspired by stories from their grandmother. Their journey leads them to what it believed to be that last great city and are shocked to find it runs on nuclear power and the scientists are working towards building Artificial Intelligence. Yeah, all this was being written in 1955…talk about foresight!

Image of Leigh Brackett from Garden Of Memory

BONUS! Dragonriders of Pern

Since you made it this far, I’ll throw in a quasi-science-fiction option. This series is massive, spanning 24 novels and two collections of short stories. No doubt Hollywood would still find a way to stretch the content by making the last book into two movies. Humans have colonized the planet Pern, but are horrified to discover that “Thread”, a mycorrhizoid spore that voraciously consumes all organic material, including humans and their crops, rains down on them from another planet. The colonists use fire-breathing dragons to burn the Thread before it gets to the ground. Published in 1968 and the winner of several awards, this one would fire up the imagination.

Who doesn’t love dragons, on another planet, working with humans, fighting deadly spores from a different planet?

Warner Bros holds the rights and has tried to make this into a series, but it hasn’t seen the light of day yet. They were within a few days of filming the pilot in 2002, when the studio made so many drastic changes to the script that strayed from what the Pern series was that the writer refused to continue and everything fell apart. Games were made for the ATARI and Commodore 64 in 1983. Ubisoft created a game in 2001 for the SEGA Dreamcast and for the PC.

It seems like we are really close to catapulting this onto the screen as a beloved series. Hey Apple and Amazon, are you paying attention?

Art from Aaron Sims

 

Agree with the list? Want to add YOUR favorite in the comment section? Go for it and then head over to our YouTube channel to check out the shows we have to offer!

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