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Voice of the Fans: SF/F Turkeys

Yesterday, in the States, was Thanksgiving, also known as Turkey Day, where families gather to consume Ben Franklin’s choice for the National Bird (good thing he lost, I’m guessing a Bald Eagle isn’t half as tasty) along with a vast array of other tasty items, including pumpkin pie for desert. I think it’s only appropriate that on the day after, we talk turkey. Science fiction and fantasy turkey that is and by turkey, I mean the stinkers and the bombs of SF/F. Our question to you, the fans, is:

Q: What are some of the SF/F turkeys you’ve seen or read?

It could be anything from a highly recommended book you thought stunk to the typical Hollywood SFX extravaganza that can’t help but suck. I’d choose 2012, but I haven’t seen that on yet. Instead, I’ll go with the mess that is/was the 2005 version of The Sound of Thunder. They should have called it The Sound of Bradbury Rolling Over in His Grave, and He’s Not Even Dead Yet!. Sure, Manos: The Hands of Fate is about as terrible a film as you’ll see, but there was no Hollywood machine behind it. As far as books go, nothing comes immediately to mind (that’s probably a good thing), but Dhalgren comes dangerously close.

Get your mind off all the turkey you ate yesterday and tell us about the turkeys you’ve seen and read below!

About JP Frantz (2322 Articles)
Has nothing interesting to say so in the interest of time, will get on with not saying it.

18 Comments on Voice of the Fans: SF/F Turkeys

  1. “The Margarets” by Sheri S. Tepper…great initial plot concept, but it all boils down to “God is a psychic  pussycat who created humans to take care of her retarded children.”

  2. Just about every major SF/F movie of the past 5 years, except for Moon and Children of Men.  

    Every Dune book after the second one.  I shouldn’t have to mention Twilight but I will.

  3. Turkeys for 2010…

    “highly recommended book you thought stunk”:

    Windup Girl. 

    To be honest, stunk is probably not the right word.  Even though I wouldnt say that it was the worse thing I read in 2010, it definitely didnt live up the hype though.  I found it to be a disjointed morass of unlikeable and forgettable characters in an inconsistent and illogical setting.  How it won so many awards is a mystery to me.



    That one is easy.  Legion.

  4. Oryx and Crake.  The audiobook just sounded like a long plot summary.  The stoic reading by Campbell Scott didn’t help.


  5. Kevin Costner’s adaptation of The Postman by David Brin, the novel is an awesome dark post appocalytic novel which Costner completely ruins by removing everything that made the novel worth reading.

  6. Sunborn, Vol. 4, The Chaos Chronicles, by Jeffrey A. Carver has my vote as a turkey. I used Amazon’s 8 voters who gave it five stars before buying it in a used book store and the ownner later called after I started reading Vol. 4 Sunborn and said he would give me a good deal on Vol. 1-3. Dumb me bought them before finishing Sunborn. Everything was too slow for me and predictable and boring. And through my own stupidity I am stuck with Vol. 1-3 that I am sure I will not read. In the meantime the bookseller went out of business so I can not sell them back. Again this is my opinion because it was asked for and no reflection on the Amazon readers who loved it.

  7. Jim Shannon // November 27, 2010 at 8:29 am //

    Not to rag on Sheri S. Tepper but “The Family tree” would be right in there as a Turkey. So far out of the books I’ve read this year, there hasn’t been any turkeys.

  8. Chris Matheson // November 27, 2010 at 11:36 am //

    Stranger In A Strange Land.  It starts off well enough, but falls apart into a morass of one-dimensional and unbelievable characters. It’s one of the few books I’ve been unable to finish.



      FINCH by Jeff VanderMeer

                                    It was tedious and a chore to read.

  10. The Guns Of Terra 10 by Don Pendleton. This was the first time the idea of not finishing a book occurred to me and for that I will always be grateful to Mr. Pendleton.

  11. joshua corning // November 27, 2010 at 7:00 pm //

    Q: What are some of the SF/F turkeys you’ve seen or read?


    I hate this question so i am changing it to:


    What are some Turkeys you have seen or read in scifi/fantacy?

    and by turkeys i mean the bird that people eat on thanksgiving.




    Auqua Teen Hunger Force’s Truketron from the year 9595.


    He is somehow related to Cybernetic ghost of christmas past from the future….who sort of look like a turkey.

  12. Biggest Turkey I’ve ever seen? Battlefield Earth. I thought the book was a pulpy sort of fun and thought the movie would be more of the same. Ugh. I never want to hear John Travolta laugh again.

    Biggest Turkey I’ve ever read? That’s tough – I’d be tempted to say Probe, the ST novel that was a sequel (or maybe a prequel, I forget) to ST IV. Yuck.

    Although, Mister Strange and Dr. Morrell was a book with some hype that I found unreadable – meaning that I simply could not finish it – a very rare thing for me.

  13. Good question.


    I just watched Silent Running and that wasn’t so hot, though I can see it being remade well.

    Books which I’d had high hopes for:

    The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russel was so bad I couldn’t finish it. When you can hear an author lol over their own crappy joke, it’s time to quit.

    Eden by Lem just rambled on and on with indistinguishable characters and virtually no plot.

    The Star Trek book Ishmael.

    The Demolished Man wasn’t a turkey, really, but it sure as hell wasn’t what it’s been built up to be.

  14. Movie:  Transformers 2.  Ridiculous in every way.

    Book:  One of the worst I’ve ever read was The Sword of Maiden’s Tears (I think that was the name).  Terrible mashup of an elf hunting a grendel in the subways of NYC.  From the 90s I think.  Ugh, I shudder just thinking of it.

  15. The question would require an ocean of ink to answer, so allow me to answer only one smaller version of the question: which TITLE was the biggest turkey you ever heard tell of? Not the movie, just the title.

    You see, titles are supposed to be evocative. The title is supposed to be a hint of magic to lure the reader in, to set the viewer wondering. For my money, the two most evocative titles ever penned are: WELL AT THE WORLD’S END. I don’t think any book can live up to the eerie sense of awe that title evokes. The second: THE DARK IS RISING.

    You see, the title THE DARK IS RISING sounds so much more unchancy and supernal than, say, a book titled THE NAZIS ARE INVADING. There is something unspeakable and unnamed in the Dark, so that way before you know what or who it is, you sure don’t want your lifetime to be the time of the rise.

    Harlan Ellison once wrote an essay on evocative titles — my memory cannot dredge up the title or the year — where he proposed a great title would be something like THE OTHER EYE OF POLYPHEMUS. He liked the title so much he promised in the essay to write a short story with that title (a promise he has since kept). But he contrasted this with the lest evocative title he could invent: THE JOURNEY.

    It tells you it is a story about someone going somewhere.

    Harlan Ellison then confesses that coming up with a title as bland and meaningless as THE JOURNEY was difficult. It had taken him hours and driven him to the bottle and caused him to sweat drops like blood. It takes true anti-genius to be able to invent a title so unimaginably unmeaningful.

    Well, someone matched that genius, or at least came close. When Hollywood made THE DARK IS RISING into a film, they changed the title to THE SEEKER.

    It tells you it is a story about someone looking for something. Or playing quidditch.

    I defy anyone, even a mad genius like Harlan Ellison, to come up with a title even more bland, unappealing, uninformative, unevocative, unmagnificent, unmagical.

    THE SEEKER! A guy looking for something!

    To take the most evocative title in fantasy-dom and turn it into the least is noteworthy, is not awe inspiring, for the same reason seeing corpses of cows spilled out of a train wreck of cattle cars and flung across bundles of smashed and burning freight is noteworthy.


  16. I walked out of the first Star Wars movie saying to myself “That thing bites.” Time has not improved it.


    But I continue to be amazed by the number of people who think that stinker, full of stereotyped characters and hackneyed and derivative plot, was actually good, that somehow it’s only the later movies that stunk up the joint.


    I’ve got news: they’re all terrible. The later ones are actually better since the films were only ever about special effects, and those are certainly more spectacular in the last cycle of films.



  17. @ John, they made a movie out of Susan Coopers Dark is rising? I would demand to know why I didn’t know this, but when you tell me its called ‘The Seeker’ I just want to know where I can get enough mind bleach to scrub this knowledge from my brain…. I can’t imagine how aweful this must be, and I have seen the postman and invasion earth… That said i do believe I am going to find my copies and give the novels a re-read thou.

    Another movie I just saw recently that left me underwhlemed was Idiocracy, this movie had so much going for but just failed to land any of its blows because they didn’t seen to know if it was meant to be a spoof or satire, so failed to hit either.

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