If someone in America was ever obsessed with a story as a 12-year-old, it’s probably being made into a movie or TV show right now

Saturday, October 23rd, 2021

For Hollywood, it is a golden age of intellectual property, Peter Suderman says, which is to say it is a golden age of adaptation:

Seemingly every beloved genre story from the last century has been optioned and auctioned, put into development, and often produced with lavish budgets and production in hopes that this old favorite will become the next Game of Thrones, Walking Dead, or, if one is really dreaming big — and who in Hollywood isn’t? — Star Wars or Marvel Cinematic Universe. Hollywood’s hit-makers have dug deep into the post-war canon of beloved adolescent fantasies: If someone in America was ever obsessed with a story as a 12-year-old, it’s probably being made into a movie or TV show right now.

If there is something missing from this bounty of adaptable IP, it’s classic science fiction. Although there have been scattered attempts to adapt the Golden Age masters — Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein, Frederick Pohl, Arthur C. Clarke — and their many literary successors in the half century since Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, few of these efforts have made much impact. (Remember Will Smith’s I, Robot? That’s what I thought.)


Part of the problem is that these sci-fi stories tend to be challenging to adapt: They operate at a level of scale and socio-scientific complexity that is difficult to fit into the demands of a mainstream feature-film format, or even a prestige TV series. Classic sci-fi is thinky, intricate, idiosyncratic, and sprawling in a way that so far has largely resisted successful big-screen treatment. The best of it is almost too big for the big screen.

It is with a combination of joy and relief that he declares Villeneuve’s Dune the real deal:

It is a love letter to a science fiction classic, and, in a way, to all the classics of science fiction. It is a no-compromises future-fantasy epic that operates at a scale I’ve never quite seen before. I’ve already bought tickets to see it again.


Denis Villeneuve’s Dune is half a masterpiece in a long-neglected genre, and half a science fiction masterpiece is far better than nothing at all.


  1. Freddo says:

    Could just be my social bubble, but I’m under the impression that the Battlestar Galactica reboot was a fairly recent solid success.

    Would be amazing (a miracle?) if they manage to translate the later books of the Dune series into movies with mass market appeal (while also getting them green lighted past the SJW sensibilities).

  2. McChuck says:

    The new Dune may be an SJW masterpiece. I have no intention of giving them my money. Stop funding the beast.

  3. A.B. Prosper says:

    I’m with McChuck.

    If you genuinely care about the future of your country, one thing you can do now, and is perfectly legal, and will even save you money is to stop consuming the system’s mind poison.

    It won’t put them out of business, the Feds will bail them out, but they won’t get your money or attention.

  4. Albion says:

    Theres’s a lot to be said for classic sci-fi (and indeed, classic stories) that todays’ obsessive SJW themes aren’t an issue. Characters were what they were and not a vehicle for re-education or political point-scoring. I am looking forward to seeing Dune (partly because I have never read it and would like to see what the story is like if Villeneuve has reasonably kept to the book; my wife will tell me ‘yay’ or ‘nay’ as she has read the book) but as always I fear that either subtly or otherwise, some vital contemporary social injustice must be urgently explored and even, sadly, be adapted to have my ‘expectations subverted.’

    Hollyweird can’t stop lecturing us and so the supposed ‘ignorance’ of classic sci-fi authors must be exposed and corrected. It does not make for good viewing, which is why I avoid a lot of their current output.

    I pray for Dune to not be in the same mould/mold.

  5. WOPR says:

    The Battlestar Galactica reboot was the beginning of the dumpster fire of today. It has emotion over logic. The plot was literally (Moore said so himself) never worked out and the writers just made it up as it went along. It was a horrible series.

    I’ve been watching Apple’s Foundation series and it is bad. The story moves at a glacial pace. It doesn’t understand the key points of Asimov’s story. I don’t agree with Asimov’s anti-religious, science worshipping philosophy. However, that’s a key point of the books. Plus, they race- and gender-swapped two main characters. A third key character is also a black woman. All of them are brilliant women who can just do anything.

    I’m curious about Dune. The gender and race swapping though has become a major disincentive.

  6. Sam J. says:

    “I’m curious about Dune. The gender and race swapping though has become a major disincentive.”

    I’ve seen it. It has race mixing, sorta. White guy, duskie girl.

    I’m not sure that this movie will break out. Dune has too many very subtle social cues in the story that mean a lot but don’t translate to film. Lots of “words” which you just can’t cram in and things don’t really make sense without them. In fact some parts of Dune don’t make sense and bothered me when I read it but as a whole the book is so good you tend to ignore the problems.

    I read the first three Dune books in, maybe three days, four. It really grabbed me. I’m older it would probably not do the same now. I really like classic sci-fi, Anderson, Pournelle, Niven, that sort of stuff.

    If you’ve read the books it’s worth seeing but don’t expect much. It’s just too difficult to do Dune. The graphics are fantastic as usual these days.

    I recommend getting the anonymous internet program I2P and go to “postman” magnet file tracker in I2P and you will find it there.



    I2P) goes through three different servers(or more if you set it up that way), then it goes to an address. Each server only gets data to go to the next server so no one knows where it came from and the ones in the middle don’t know where it’s going. All is encrypted the whole way. The servers rearrange themselves every ten minutes or so you are never using the same servers. The postman server is inside I2P and does not exist outside of it. I2P is a self contained internet. There are some portals to the regular internet but they are additions and not really a reliable thing.

    I wonder mightily why some of Pournelle and Nivens works have not been made into movies. “War World” would be a great one. It even already has diversity built in and the Whites are the bad guys a lot of the time so it’s perfect. Thy have a bunch of books that could all make great movies.

  7. Altitude Zero says:

    I would imagine the fact that Pournelle was a right-winger would be enough to make him “problematic” to today’s shrinking violets, no matter how much diversity he and Niven managed to incorporate into their stories.

  8. Old Salt says:

    Saw it. Loved it. Dune is almost impossible to do perfectly so a respectable attempt is better than I had hoped for. The SJW crap was minimal. In fact the SJWs actually missed opportunities to display androgynous gender bending on Gedi Prime in service to the Barron’s warped proclivities. (I suppose transsexual rape scenes are best left to the bathrooms of well heeled Virginian public schools — but I digress.)

    The now mandatory gender/race swaps did not affect the story — and why would they really in a far flung future where earth is a legend and “race” is an anachronism?

    The actual only bad thing about the movie was that Lady Jessica was a horrible miscast, and some of the associated Jessica plotline probably had to go.

    The rest was pure genius: epic, beautiful, and somehow original. Top 5 scifi easily.

    Now onward to Wheel of Time and Ringworld. If they screw up Matt Cauthin or Louis Wu, I RIOT!

  9. Sam J. says:

    “Now onward to Wheel of Time and Ringworld.”

    Now that computer graphic can do fur fairly well I’m waiting for Kzinti Attack! The “Integral trees” would be nice.

  10. TRX says:

    > partly because I have never read it

    It’s a waaaay too long story of politics and logistics.

    Somehow the “ecological warning” label got stuck to it, which is senseless, since Arrakis was an alien planet that was not habitable without technological aid.

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