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The Moon is a Harsh Mistress 
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Post Re: The Moon is a Harsh Mistress
Peter Scott wrote:
Ok, boys and girls, after all the griping about bad scripts, let's see if you can name one film adaptation of a book that you thought turned out just as enjoyable as the written page.


I thought the film version of The Andromeda Strain was an improvement upon the paper version, notably in adding a female scientist (who was nobody's "love interest," played by Kate Reid) to the cast.

The flim Who Framed Roger Rabbit? is better than Gary Wolf's book Who Censored Roger Rabbit?, scrapping the rather labored worldbuilding of the original.

The novel The Princess Bride is an interesting case, since it was adapted by its author, William Goldman, a veteran screenwriter. He made careful choices about what to throw overboard. The concept of "the good parts version" is something that didn't make it into the movie, but perhaps we see it in action nevertheless. (The original The Princess Bride was a turgid book, but as the narrator's father read only the exciting parts to his son, the boy remembers it as the greatest, most action-packed book of all time. He is crushed when, as an adult, he reads the original.)

I stiil prefer the novel, but the movie has its own delights.

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Sun Jun 21, 2009 3:29 pm
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Post Re: The Moon is a Harsh Mistress
Bill Mullins wrote:
James Gifford wrote:
By the way, Bill, 2001 book and movie were created more or less simultaneously

I wasn't referring to the contemporaneous novel, but the short story from the 1950s (?) called "The Sentinel" or something like that. I don't know if I've ever read the novel.


Yes. 2001: A Space Odyssey bears just about as much resemblance to "The Sentinel" as Destination Moon does to Rocket Ship Galileo.

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So I'll close by saying that I liked Aliens more than Starship Troopers, and let you guys battle it out if the movie is properly viewed as a more legitimate adaptation of the book than the Verhoeven's movie.


You're not the only one who was reminded of (the book) Starship Troopers by Cameron's professional, well-equipped space marines in Aliens. In 1986 it seemed like the closest thing to the Mobile Infantry ever seen in a feature film, and this remained true after (the film) Starship Troopers came out.

It would derail the thread even more to bring up the CGI animated TV series Roughneck Chronicles, which I see as somewhere between Heinlein's book and Verhoeven's movie. But I would be interested to read the thoughts of people who have seen it, perhaps in a thread of its own. It seemed pretty good to me, by the standards of television SF.

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Post Re: The Moon is a Harsh Mistress
Peter Scott wrote:
Ok, boys and girls, after all the griping about bad scripts, let's see if you can name one film adaptation of a book that you thought turned out just as enjoyable as the written page.


I can name one movie adaptation that is indisputably better than the novel it's based on. The Godfather.

Oops, I see that Bill Mullins already mentioned Godfather I and II - however, II isn't really based on the novel.

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Post Re: The Moon is a Harsh Mistress
beamjockey wrote:
Bill Mullins wrote:
I wasn't referring to the contemporaneous novel, but the short story from the 1950s (?) called "The Sentinel" or something like that.

Yes. 2001: A Space Odyssey bears just about as much resemblance to "The Sentinel" as Destination Moon does to Rocket Ship Galileo.

Clarke also wearied of saying that "Sentinel" was only one small part of his existing works that went into the concept for 2001. He was quite firm that 2001 was not a film adaptation of "The Sentinel" by itself.

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It would derail the thread even more to bring up the CGI animated TV series Roughneck Chronicles, which I see as somewhere between Heinlein's book and Verhoeven's movie. But I would be interested to read the thoughts of people who have seen it, perhaps in a thread of its own. It seemed pretty good to me, by the standards of television SF.

I thought it was excellent stuff, making all allowances for the niche it was produced for and the terrible cliffhanger ending of the run.


Sun Jun 21, 2009 4:34 pm
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Post Re: The Moon is a Harsh Mistress
Well to each his own, but I discovered LOTR as a misty eyed teenager with a ridiculously romantic view of the inherent nobility of the Impossible Quest where the Little Guy Saves the World in spite of having no chance whatsoever to do so, using just determination and a sense of right and wrong. I still think that there is a chance for a bit of a hero to emerge from almost all of us given the right circumstances. In fact I will be so bold as to say that I have seen it more than once. For many many years I read it every Christmas because without fail it put me in that mood. Also a fondness for flowing tresses and all that.....

But I did always just skip the parts written in Elvish....

And I loved the movies also but do not see really in the same league as the books. The books will probably outlast the movies, IMHO.


Sun Jun 21, 2009 4:54 pm
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Post Re: The Moon is a Harsh Mistress
beamjockey wrote:
I thought the film version of The Andromeda Strain was an improvement upon the paper version, notably in adding a female scientist (who was nobody's "love interest," played by Kate Reid) to the cast.


I think I saw the movie first but I still thought the book was much better. Really important plot points are left out or glossed over to the point of irrelevance in the movie, like the concept of the single man or whatever they called it.

Crichton attracts a lot of sniping but the guy could write the pants off most anybody. I don't think it was his fault that Jeff Goldblum ended up annoying millions of people in his name.


Sun Jun 21, 2009 8:47 pm
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Post Re: The Moon is a Harsh Mistress
Where LOTR is concerned, Audrey, I'm not sure I agree. The books are works of literary genius, and I'm sure they'll still be studied in hundreds of years. I've read them more times than I can count and can quote long passages from memory. :-) Whether they'll be read for fun in a few hundred years, though, I'm less sure about. The language and ideas in them are already dated by the standards of today's generation; they take *work* to read. You have to live up to these books, and as the English language continues to develop and change over time, the amount of work will increase.

Look at Shakespeare for an example. At the time he was alive and writing, and for considerable time afterward, he was not considered a "serious" writer, but rather an entertainer. His plays were the Hollywood blockbusters of their day; everyone who could went to see them and nobody thought they were too difficult or inaccessible. :-) But now, he's highbrow. It takes real work to read his plays, and even watching them stretches people's skills because they have to understand the language, which has changed over time, and the culture, which has changed even more.

I think that Peter Jackson created is much more likely to be watched for fun even after hundreds of years; I think it will simply be more accessible to our remote descendants than the books will. I also sometimes still have a hard time believing just how fine a job Jackson did in creating those movies. Before I saw the first LOTR movie, I did not think a decent movie could be created from LOTR, nor did I think that it should be done at all. Jackson created something I think that Tolkien would have been happy to see, even with the stuff he had to leave out (like my favorite, Tom Bombadil) :( and a few miscues (like botching the character of Faramir). He nailed Frodo, Sam, Merry, Pippin, and Aragorn, however, and IMHO made something much better of Arwen than Tolkien himself managed to do.

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Post Re: The Moon is a Harsh Mistress
Peter Scott wrote:
Crichton attracts a lot of sniping but the guy could write the pants off most anybody.

...until his last six books. Lost World, Prey, Next and especially State of Fear were unreadable sh*t. Airframe was so-so. Timeline was ridiculous. He devolved into a self-important parody of himself.

But his first four or five major novels are exceptional work. Even Congo, which was a great book if a truly abysmal movie. Terminal Man still haunts me. And Andromeda Strain was the first adult sf I swallowed whole.

Something I find funny is that I first read Crichton without knowing it: I am pretty sure I read Dealing before Andromeda Strain. You'll have to look it up to realize how bizarre it is; only by finding and reading a copy will you understand just how weird 1970 was.

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Post Re: The Moon is a Harsh Mistress
James Gifford wrote:
...until his last six books. Lost World, Prey, Next and especially State of Fear were unreadable sh*t. Airframe was so-so. Timeline was ridiculous. He devolved into a self-important parody of himself.

But his first four or five major novels are exceptional work. Even Congo, which was a great book if a truly abysmal movie. Terminal Man still haunts me. And Andromeda Strain was the first adult sf I swallowed whole.

Something I find funny is that I first read Crichton without knowing it: I am pretty sure I read Dealing before Andromeda Strain. You'll have to look it up to realize how bizarre it is; only by finding and reading a copy will you understand just how weird 1970 was.


I thought Prey was ok - bought it at Harrods in London during their big Christmas sale in 2002. It was about the only "sale" item in the store that I could afford. Read it on the plane back to DC and it helped pass the time.

I have to agree with you on State of Fear. It was a right-wing political screed dressed up as a novel, and anytime an author tries to do that without putting the story first, the book is bound to suffer.

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Mon Jun 22, 2009 5:34 am
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Post Re: The Moon is a Harsh Mistress
The biggest problem with MC's later novels is that he fell prey to a syndrome for which I have not found the proper name - the "I had a huge success in Hollywood with one of my novels so now I am unable to write a novel without thinking of the next cast party with Angelina Jolie" syndrome.

It causes a very definite turn in writing style. As nearly as I can capsulize it, they stop writing the story as if they're telling it around a campfire, and start describing the movie they see projected up on the wall. Crais has fallen completely off this cliff and become utterly unreadable. Crichton was a longer slope beginning with Sphere (which, fer gossakes, broke into script format in places).

State of Fear is an inexcusable detour into fictionalized political ranting - I loved his footnote about how everyone except him had an agenda in the debate.

I've also never been sure what to make of a Harvard Medical School grad who never practiced a day in his life. There's something... wrong there.


Mon Jun 22, 2009 6:38 am
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