Tales of the Unadapted
Graham Joyce has given us notice that The Silent Land has been optioned for film. This is exciting news, not only because I love the book, but also because I can now ‘cast’ the film in my head, second guessing the entire film industry.
The news also got me thinking. What kind of books out there would be good movie material? Here’s my purely speculative list.
1) The Riverworld series by Philip José Farmer
Everyone resurrects at the same time on an endless river-bank with free food and drink provided. Paradise? Yeah, right. One of the most original series of adventure books ever written, and might make it onto the screens soon (the SyFy channel have commissioned a pilot).
2) Elric of Melniboné by Michael Moorcock
Changed the terms of reference for heroic fantasy. Elric is a weak, sickly anti-hero who destroys his own kingdom in a botched attempt to sort out his love life. Truly awesome demonic fun. Given the successful adaptations of Lord of The Rings by Peter Jackson, the recent Game of Thrones TV series and the Conan film (Schwarzenegger version), it would be really exciting to see Elric and Moonglum done properly. Would suit HBO adaptation.*
3) The Helliconia trilogy by Brian Aldiss
The intertwined destinies of twin suns, humans, ancipitals and horse-flies combine in an epic fantasy wrapped into mind-bending Science Fiction.
4) Live From Golgotha by Gore Vidal
Time-travelling TV crew go back in time to film the crucifixion with hilarious results. (How’s that for an elevator pitch?)
5) The Scheme For Full Employment by Magnus Mills
The Scheme employs everyone who can’t find a job. It’s steady work and keeps people busy for a reasonable wage. But there is trouble brewing among the workers… You’d make a decent Ealing comedy with this one.
6) Maul by Tricia Sullivan
Teenage girls bitching about boys as they shoot up a shopping mall with laser cannons. Lovely stuff.
7) The Manuscript Found In Saragossa by Count Jan Potocki
Already the subject of a charming Polish film version, this 18th century yarn of endless stories-within-stories is packed with great characters and subplots. Better still, reissue the old classic for a new generation.
8) The ‘Mars’ trilogy by Kim Stanley Robinson
The tale of a planet terraformed in three colour-coded classic Sci-Fi volumes (Red, Green and Blue). Makes me think of Krystof Kieslowski ‘three colours’ series for an obvious and not very helpful reason.
9) Sambre by Yslaire and Balac
Best comic book ever, a cracking historical melodrama built around a story of impossible love (see Comic Book Classics 2 on this very site for more).
10) Auto Da Fe by Elias Canetti
A professor, down on his luck, carries all his books in his head. At night he opens up his skull and empties his cranium of the hundreds of volumes he’s ever read. In the morning he puts them all back in. Most arresting metaphor for intellectual vanity ever concocted.
11) Land Of The Headless by Adam Roberts
On a planet where strict adherence to the BibleQu’ran means beheading for any number of crimes, this punishment is no longer a death sentence. Your brain is saved on a chip and implanted, you are given artificial eyes and ears and can live out your life as Headless. Charming little satire.
12) The Stainless Steel Rat by Harry Harrison
Slippery Jim Di Griz is a master thief, super spy and brilliant raconteur. A great comedy character whose ego is bigger than the universe itself. The Flashman of Space Opera.
*Apologies to the British TV industry, but they can’t do fantasy. All the recent examples where they’ve tried to translate myth or historical period for the small screen have been truly horrid. They all end up as Hollyoaks in a big castle (see The Tudors, Merlin, etc). No, Britain is a busted flush here. Only America can save us now (oh, shit…).
Posted on August 30, 2011, in Writing Stuff and tagged Adam Roberts, Brian Aldiss, Elias Canetti, Elric of Melnibone, Film adaptations, Graham Joyce, Michael Moorcock, Philip Jose Farmer, Riverworld, The Manuscript Found in Saragossa, Tricia Sullivan. Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.