What SF books would our blogging team like to see make the leap to the big screen?
The process of adapting something to another medium is roughly as easy as cat herding, simply because there’s no way to win. If you follow the original material slavishly, you risk not using the medium to its full potential, whilst if you change even the tiniest little thing, you risk the ire of the established fans. From Doctor Who to Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy , and from X-Men to The Da Vinci Code , every adaptation team has faced this impossible question. The answer is simple: they should have us to help them. So, onwards, to the Blogbusters answer this week’s question, which is:
Hollywood asks you which book you would make into a movie. What is it? And who would you cast?
ill Salmon: The Tripods trilogy, by John Christopher. Those books encapsulate my childhood and I love them completely. People remember the series for the limp BBC adaptation of the first two books, but the actual trilogy is a lot richer, grander and darker. Seriously, it gets nasty .
Casting is tough though. It’s a series primarily about the journey to adulthood, and I’m not hugely familiar with any young actors around at the moment. It’s also very boysy, with only one or two prominent female characters. That didn’t hurt Lord Of The Rings , though, I suppose. And maybe I’d cast Christopher Eccleston as Ozymandias, the boys’ hobo mentor. He has the right balance of brilliance and madness. But then I’d cast him in everything, if I could.
Liam Neeson – Bill Mason, the Triffid farm worker, blinded at the beginning
Uma Thurman – Jo Playton, a more independent Jo from previous versions
Ron Perlman – Jack Coker, organiser of the blind chain-gangs
Ian Holm – Beadley, countryside colony leader
Carey Mulligan – Susan, younger blind girl
Eminem – Torrence, scavenger leader, who turns up as a soldier near the end
(To be honest, I’d love to see a big screen version of Michael Marshall Smith’s Only Forward as well, but everybody would probably go, “Oh, it’s an Inception rip-off!” and I get pissed off having to go, “It was written waaaaaayyyyy before Inception . And it’s cleverer. And it’s got more cats.”)
Alasdair Stuart: The Lost Fleet series by Jack Campbell. The story opens decades into a brutal war between the Alliance and the Syndics, two human power groups who have spread across multiple worlds. As the series opens, the Alliance fleet has been trapped in the Syndic home system and is all set to be blown apart. The one thing that saves them is Black Jack Geary.
A century ago, Captain Jack Geary was presumed dead following one of the first engagements of the war. Instead, he was trapped in a suspended animation capsule and only just rescued before he died. To Geary’s horror, he finds the Alliance have built him into a legendary figure who valued courage over skill and tactics and routinely commit war crimes because that’s what they think “Black Jack” would do. Trapped far from home, in command of a Fleet that either resents or deifies him, Jack Geary must balance keeping his people alive and running for home with somehow winning the war and protecting himself from the factions within his own Fleet.
If you’re a Battlestar Galactica fan and you’re not drooling by now, check your pulse. It’s a tremendous series of books, and does a great job of balancing some very smart FTL battle tactics with the politics of running the Fleet and the desperate search for home. Even better, as the books go on, Campbell begins to unpack something fascinating which puts the war in a very different light...
Casting for this is surprisingly difficult, though. Black Jack Geary is a perfect role for someone like Russell Crowe but I like the idea of casting slightly against type. Someone like Hugh Bonneville would be great as would Gerard Butler, who could definitely bring the combination of steel and humanity the role needs to the screen.
Victoria Rione, the President of two smaller factions who acts as Geary’s conscience is slightly easier. Rachel Weisz has the necessary authority for the role and Sigourney Weaver would be even better. Finally, Captain Tanya Desjani, Geary’s second in command is a perfect fit for someone like Noomi Rapace. Alternately, and this would work better, you age her and put CCH Pounder in the role. That would work even better if you had Geary as younger than he should be, and the dynamic would be fascinating. Throw in Tony Shalhoub as Captain Duellos and you’ve got the core of a science fiction movie that combines heroism, tremendous amounts of explosions and great characters. Time to clear the mantelpiece for the Oscars.
So there you go, the next big movie franchises and how they can be done right. We will talk, and Hollywood will listen, but to pass the time between now and Oscar night, we'll be answering this question:
Which actor or actress are you always happy to see and why?
See you next week