Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

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Best SF adaptations

From BookBub: The Best Science Fiction Adaptations Ever, According to Our Readers

So, a popularity contest. I do not watch many movies . . . I just don’t ever seem to get to it . . . and I don’t go out of my way to watch adaptations. Nearly always, I prefer the book. The only real exception I can think of is The Hunt for Red October, where the movie is dramatically better than the book because:

a) Sean Connery

b) pacing is more taut in the movie

c) Sean Connery

d) Tom Clancy overwrites in terms of detail and isn’t that great at description and if you take all that away and just have images plus dialogue, you get a better product.

e) Also, Sean Connery

Of course, The Hunt for Red October isn’t an SF story. I know which SF adaptation I’ve liked best in the past decade or so. As I said, I’m choosing from a small subset of SF movies made. But I really liked The Martian as a movie — I thought it was ALMOST as good as the book.

Let’s see what BookBub picks out …

  1. The Martian. Yep. I am just another sheep following this herd
  2. Arrival by Ted Chiang. Oh, was there an adaptation? I didn’t know that. Chiang is a very skilled writer; if the adaptation stayed close to his original story, I bet it was indeed very good.
  3. Ender’s Game. Now come on. That was a terrible adaptation. It lost almost everything good about the book.
  4. Leviathan Wakes by James SA Corey. Somebody did an adaptation, really? How ambitious of someone. Oh, this is The Expanse! I’ve at least heard of that tv show. I didn’t realize it was drawn from this novel. If any of you have watched The Expanse, how is it?
  5. Jurassic Park. Sure, okay, the movie was good. I mean, great special effects. All the stupidly unbelievable science is probably just as stupidly unbelievable in both the book and the movie.

Several others at the link. The other one I’ve watched and thought was really quite excellent was Guardians of the Galaxy. I didn’t realize it was based on a comic book.

I’m a bit surprised not to see Galaxy Quest here. Personally I think I’d count it as an adaptation of Star Trek and put it right up at the top.

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4 Comments Best SF adaptations

  1. Kootch

    I liked The Expanse, especially the character of Avasarala – what a feisty lady! I’ve enjoyed all the books, the plots seem to progress organically, like a blooming fractal. Also liked the first Jurassic Park but got increasingly indifferent to the sequels. Alas, my sister gave me an enthusiastic run-down on Ender’s Game (the novel) and knowing the ending pretty much killed my desire to read it myself. Also by that time I’d heard a few things about Orson Scott Card that I did not like so he was scratched off my reading list.

  2. SarahZ

    I liked the movie Arrival, but didn’t read the book so can’t compare.

    Surprised Game of Thrones isn’t up there, given it’s massively popular. Ditto various other comic book stories.

    It’s strange that they have Hitchhiker’s Guide on there – I thought the radio show came before the book?

    I really enjoyed the Good Omens adaptation, personally.

    Learning unsavory things about Orson Scott Card killed Enders Game for me – painted multiple scenes in a different light.

  3. SarahZ

    Oh, wait, I guess they’re talking just SF, not fantasy. Since I broke the genre rules already, I’ll also say the movie for Crazy Rich Asians was much better than the book, which had major structural issues. I’m hoping that they’ll fix the even more glaring problems from the sequels.

  4. Kathryn McConaughy

    I liked a lot of things about Expanse, but ultimately it was too dark and gritty for me…

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