I think it’s a given that most people, including us, would say that SF, either in TV of film form is, currently, lackluster at best. Sure there are a few good SF shows/films, but the majority is mostly worthless tripe. In fact, one of SFSignal’s favorite actors, Bruce Campbell, agrees in a couple of articles (warning! crappy salon.com free pass required. Is there a greasemonkey script for that yet?), basically saying that most SF today is crap, aside from being sarcastically funny, which is why he is an icon here. But I digress (hi John!). So, thought experiement time for the teeming masses of SFSignal readers.
Let’s say you have become, through fair means or foul, the president, CEO, or Big Cheese at your friendly neighborhood entertainment company. You want to educate the masses about what good SF really is, be it in movie, mini-series, or series form. What book/short story would you choose to adapt and why? I’ll list mine in order of type.
- Use of Weapons, Iain M. Banks – Great story and storytelling, inticately plotted (how this would be filmed I don’t know, but as the President, that’s not my job, I delegate…), strong characters, cool locations. It’s got it all and is probably his strongest novel.
- Consider Phlebas, Iain M. Banks – Yes, another Banks novel. His Culture books take place in a great setting and these two novels, for me, achieve the holy grail of SF. This one has interesting, if not sympathetic characters, exciting action sequences (especially the ending set piece) and extremely cool settings. Banks has said he would want this one to be set on film for the fight scene underneath the hovercraft alone.
- Singularity, Bill DeSmedt – Starts off as a mostly conventional techno-thriller, then cranks up the SF to 11 for the climax. One of the best books I’ve read recently, and John agrees. I think this could be a cool mini-series.
- Darwinia, Robert Charles Wilson – An alternate history, Victorian-era anthropological mystery that slowly climbs its way to a mind expanding, and potentially very depressing, ending. Another book where the SF elements are cranked up as the book moves along. Its got all kinds of cool SF stuff in it. The only thing that might need changing for mainstream acceptance is the ending.
- Short Stories
- Cookie Monster, Vernor Vinge – An office mystery that turns into something much more. I believe today’s post-Matrix audience would accept this story. Thoughtful and interesting with a neat twist. I’m not sure if the linked story is the full story or not but I don’t think it is. You’ll have to look for it in an anthology.
- A Colder War, Charlie Stross – An alternate history tale with a unique twist on the Cold War. This would make a great one off movie, and would fit right in with SciFi’s belief in ‘creature feature’ movies, although we never really see the ‘creatures’, because, well, that would be telling. Read it and find out for yourself.
- Antibodies, Charlie Stross – What if creating an AI actually turns out to be easy? What if they turn out not to be friendly? What counter-measures could humanity take? Find out in this excellent short story. May be a bit technical for lay people, what with all the talk about NP-complete problems, but still, it’s quite an interesting story.
- Ghost in the Shell, Stand Alone Complex – I know, anime. But, this series, with the appropriate massaging of the jargon, could be a great live action TV show. Set in the near future where technology and biological sciences are merging, it details the happenings of an elite crime fighting force with the Japanese police department. Part police drama, part character drama, and part SF, its all good, and could bring a lot of people into the SF fold.
I could go on, but I’ll stop here. The question is now up to you. What SF programs would you green light if you were the Big Cheese?