I love reading and I love watching movies. I get the best of both worlds when books are adapted to film. Here's the latest roundup of books that just might be showing up at your local movie theater soon, all of which are classic science-fiction novels.
Hyperion by Dan Simmons
Hyperion is one of science fiction's most beloved space operas. It takes place in the 29th century, where the Human Hegemony is threatened by a warlike race of aliens. With the galaxy poised for war, seven pilgrims travel to the legendary time tombs of Hyperion to learn the secrets of the universe from the Godlike creatures known as the Shrike. Hyperion won the Hugo Award for best novel and was followed by three sequels: The Fall of Hyperion, Endymion and The Rise of Endymion.
Big stars can bring clout to a project, and Hyperion is off to a good start. Variety recently reported that actor/producer Bradley Cooper (American Sniper) will be teaming up with producers Graham King and Todd Phillips to produce a SyFy channel television “event” series based on Simmons’ epic space opera. Itamar Moses, screenwriter for Boardwalk Empire, will write the screenplay and also serve as the co-executive producer of the series. To the production team's credit, the message being communicated about the series seems to acknowledge Hyperion for the classic that it is. That, at least, bodes well for the project.
The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert A. Heinlein
Robert A. Heinlein is one of science fiction's Grandmasters. His 1966 novel The Moon is a Harsh Mistress (also a Hugo award winner) is one of the reasons why. At its core, the story is about revolution. It depicts a rebellion between the former penal colony on the moon and the Lunar Authority that controls it from Earth. The rebellion is led by a small group of disparate people—an elderly academic, a computer technician, and a young vigorous female agitator—who are the only ones who know that a supercomputer named Mike has achieved sentience.
Bryan Singer will be the director adapting Robert A. Heinlein’s classic sci-fi book for Twentieth Century Fox. Rather than capitalizing on name recognition, the project is being called Uprising, obviously a reflection of the books themes of rebellion and freedom. This is not the first adaptation attempt of Heinlein's classic book. In fact, it’s been adapted twice before but neither project was completed and the rights eventually expired, reverting them back to the Heinlein estate. Here's hoping the latest attempt to bring this to movie-going audiences finally succeeds.
The Space Vampires by Colin Wilson
If the movie title Lifeforce sounds familiar to you, it might be because it's a 1985 cult sci-fi film classic starring Steve Railsback and Patrick Stewart and Mathilda May and directed by Tobe Hooper. It is, in fact, based on Colin Wilson's 1976 novel The Space Vampires. The story is about a group of astronauts who discover a derelict alien spacecraft harboring an ancient secret. On the spacecraft, the explorers discover three perfect humanoids who are then returned to Earth…but who unleash a terrible plague upon the unsuspecting planet.
A new version—excuse me, I mean a "re-imagining"—of Lifeforce is currently in the works. It's being adapted as a television movie for the Chiller network. It will premiere later this year. Rumor is that this might be (or the producers wish it to be) the gateway to a new television series. Time will tell if that happens, but hey, if people flock to see Twilight, why not a rally around a television show about space vampires?
I Am Legend by Richard Matheson
Speaking of vampires, Richard Matheson's classic 1954 novel I Am Legend is one of my favorite novels and it's considered a vampire novel. But this is not your typical vampire novel; it has a heavy post-apocalyptic vibe because the book's main protagonist, Robert Neville, is the apparent last man on Earth. But he's not alone. A pandemic has transformed the world's population into creatures that are essentially vampires. At night, Neville, a scientist, attempts to find a cure for this disease to which he is immune, barricaded from the horrible creatures looking to kill him. By day, he scavenges for supplies and kills the sleeping creatures he comes across. It's a terrific story with a very claustrophobic feel.
It wasn't that long ago—2007 to be exact—when this was adapted into a film starring Will Smith. That was actually the book's third adaptation, the previous two being The Last Man on Earth (a 1964 starring Vincent Price) and The Omega Man (a 1974 film starring Charlton Heston). While everyone expected a sequel or prequel film, one was never produced. Instead, this new fourth adaptation is in the works, though it's actually based on another script altogether, one that featured the same themes. This new I Am Legend will be a reboot of a new proposed film franchise.
The Forever War by Joe Haldeman
Joe Haldeman's The Forever War (winner of both the Hugo Award and the Nebula Award) is a military science-fiction classic. It follows a group of conscripted soldiers in the United Nations Exploratory Force whose mission is to fight vicious aliens known as the Taurans. Because of the effects of relativistic space travel, decades pass for those on Earth while only two years pass for the soldiers themselves while they are on their dangerous mission. Thus, they feel alienated when they return. In this way, The Forever War is rightfully seen as a powerful parallel to the Vietnam War.
Warner Bros. studios will be adapting the Haldeman classic, the rights of which they won in a bidding war against Sony. Actor Channing Tatum is attached to star in the adaptation. The script was written by Jon Spaihts, who wrote Prometheus. No director is attached yet, but Ridley Scott (Blade Runner) is said to have expressed some interest. We shall see!