Seven Sci-Fi/Fantasy Book Series That Should (Will?) Be Made Into Movies

Lensman

1977′s release of  Star Wars showed movie studios the audience interest for science fiction, and ever since executives have scrambled to find the next big “space saga”  franchise.  There were successes, like the Alien and Terminator films, but when it came to films based on literary series, results have been decidedly hit-and-miss.

Sure, Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy and the Harry Potter films managed to be both financially and–generally–critically popular, but along the way there have also been such misfires as David Lynch’s bombastic DunePaul Verhoeven’s mutilation of Robert Heinlein’s Starship Troopers, and the big-screen version of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Oh, and take Battlefield Earth…please.

Since so many screenplays these days seem to be based on toys and action figures the writers played with way back in the 1980s (did you know they’re seriously considering a feature based on the Stretch Armstrong doll?), here are seven book series that would not only be spectacularly entertaining films–if done right–but could make for a satisfying string of sequels. Some are actually in pre-production stages, but Hollywood’s fickle whims could change that in an instant.

1. DRAGONRIDERS OF PERN - Anne McCaffrey deftly blended sci-fi and fantasy elements to bring to life Pern, a medieval-like world whose only defense against a deadly spore that consumes all organic material are fire-breathing dragons telepathically linked at hatching to their riders. McCaffrey and her son Todd have written 18 novels or novellas and several short stories on Pern since 1967. A Dragonriders film has been on the drawing board for years,  but lackluster receptions for Reign of Fire and Eragon may threaten it.

2. FOUNDATION – Think a movie about the establishment of a branch of mathematics would be dull? Not thanks to Isaac Asimov, who in seven books showed how scientist Hari Seldon and his followers used his theory of “psycho-history,” a method of tracking future societal actions, to predict  the decline and fall of the vast Galactic Empire. In order to preserve mankind’s  knowledge and technology, a secret organization known as the Foundation is established. Again, plans for a Foundation film have come and gone, with one currently being overseen by former New Line honcho Bob Shaye.

3. LENSMAN – long before DC Comics’ Green Lantern Corps, the spaceways were protected by another group of interplanetary lawmen wielding super-powered devices. Genre pioneer E.E. “Doc” Smith pretty much invented the “space opera” with his tales of  the Arisians, aliens who built the thought-focusing Lenses and gave them to worthy beings (males only–it was the 1930s, after all) to help battle the invading Eddorians. Ron Howard’s Imagine Entertainment and Babylon 5 creator J. Michael Straczynski are currently working on a Lensman script.

4. RAMA – Rama was the name 2001: A Space Odyssey guru Arthur C. Clarke gave in his acclaimed 1972 book “Rendezvous with Rama” to a 30-mile-long, 12-mile-wide cylindrical spaceship of unknown origin that enters Earth’s solar system in the 22nd century.  The research vessel Endeavour is sent to make contact with Rama and whoever might be inside, but Endeavour’s crew finds only cybernetic ogranisms among the uninhabited cities, forests and seas that make up the ship’s vast interior. Rama leaves the solar system with its mysteries intact, mysteries that Clarke and co-author Gentry Lee would eventually explore in three more novels. Actor Morgan Freeman and filmmaker David Fincher worked on a Rama project for years, but various problems have put it in development limbo.

5. RINGWORLD – Even with the advances in CGI effects, few things in sci-fi cinema to date could compare with a depiction of Larry Niven’s immense ring-shaped construct, a million miles wide and 600 million miles in circumference, roating in its orbit around a distant star. Niven’s original 1970 novel followed two humans and their alien colleagues as they set out from Earth to explore the Ringworld, with subsequent books detailing their efforts to repair and save the construct and its inhabitants, even as they seek to learn the secrets of its designers, as well as the interplanetary war that breaks out for control of its technology.

6. SHANNARA – Fans of Tolkeinesque fantasy have been reading Terry Brooks’ “Shannara” series for over 30 years. Set in a mysterious world called the Four Lands, whose magic and lack of technology hide its societies’ apocalyptic origins, the 1977 debut novel “The Sword of Shannara” detailed the quest of the half-human, half-elven Shea Ohmsford and his adopted human brother Flick to find a mystical sword  that will stop the evil  Warlock Lord’s plans of conquest.  Trolls, dwarves and other genre staples are given new life through Brooks’ knack for characterization, and a film series (Warner Bros. and director Mike Newell are said to be working on adapting the second book, “The Elfstones of Shannara”) would find favor with Lord of the Rings devotees.

7. WILD CARDS – Giving the superhero milieu a realism beyond the X-Men films or even Watchmen, this collection of  “shared universe” books–penned by Roger Zelazny, Walter Jon Williams, George R.R. Martin, and others–outlined an alternate history of Earth since 1946, when an alien virus that alters human DNA was dispersed across the globe. Of the hundreds of thousands who were uniquely affected (hence its desingation as the “Wild Card” virus), 90 percent “drew the black queen” and died within days, nine percent mutated into disfigured “Jokers,” and the remaining one percent became superpowered “Aces.”  Such real-world events as the ’50s Red Scare, the Civil Rights Movement and the Iran Hostage Crisis are re-imagined through the eyes of the Wild Carders, with the Jokers becoming an international minority (most U.S. vicitms settle in a Lower Manhattan neighborhood dubbed Jokertown) and the Aces (few of whom bother with masks or secret identities) becoming vigilante crimefighters, government agents, celebrities, and, of course, criminals.

  • http://www.moviefanfare.com/?fbconnect_action=myhome&userid=256 TheManWhoKnows

    I’m a firm believer that time has actually been very kind to Lynch’s “Dune” (original cut, not Alan Smithee version) — some of its questionable matte work notwithstanding — especially given the rather banal “more faithful” treatment it received in its made-for-TV incarnation. Meanwhile, I know it isn’t strictly “sci-fi,” but I’d add our old friend Doc Savage to this list. That material cries out for a more thoughtfully outrageous franchise. (And we’ll all still be able to enjoy/cringe at the high camp road taken by the Ron Ely film.)

  • greatandpowerfulturtle

    A big-screen “WIld Cards” movie would be fantastic, or even a mini-series on the channel they used to call Sci-Fi. Better than the overhyped “Watchmen.” With any luck George R.R. Martin would come back to TV to script, and five words…JOHNNY DEPP AS DR. TACHYON!

  • Calvin Morrison

    Foundation is too big. It would have to be a mini-series. Rama would be great. But Ringworld would be fantastic! The book I would like to see made into a movie is Lord Kalvan of Otherwhen. Would be a great action/fantasy flick.

  • Howard Greene

    How about Harry Harison’s anti-hero Slippery Jim DeGriz the Stainless Steel Rat?

  • mlharrison

    Most of the really good stories could/should be series or at least mini-series. I would love to see both “Dragon Riders of Pern” and “Ring World”. But either of them would take real dedication and hours of video.

  • mlharrison

    Howard, I’m surprised that no one has done “The Stainless Steel Rat”. I can only conclude that H.H. is still alive and has seen what movie people do to good, fun literature. Robert Heinlein, while he was alive, only allowed one movie to be made from his writings, it was butchered so badly it was the first and the last for him!

  • J. Keen Holland

    I’d love to see C.S. Lewis’ Space Trilogy on the big screen. The Chronicles of Narnia movies are great for the kids, but Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra, and That Hideous Strength could make fun and thoughtful movies for more grown-up audiences.

    If you want to reach back further, how about Edgar Rice Burroughs’ John Carter: Warlord of Mars series? The hero being a Confederate officer who is wounded and wakes up on the Red Planet might be a problem, but that premise could be made more contemporary without having too much impact on the Mars stories – lots romance and sword fights as I recall.

  • Rodger Samuel

    Never thought much of the “Shannara” series, but a good treatment of Robert Jordan’s “Wheel of Time” series would be wonderful! Of course, it would take so many films to cover the whole story, so it probably couldn’t be done. Plus, the promised conclusion has yet to appear.

  • S.J. Blanchard

    I agree with JK Holland. “Out of the Silent Planet “, “Perelandra” and “That Hideous Strength” by CS Lewis would make great movies for the Science Fiction fans. These books definately provoked thought.
    The Dark Elf series of books by Salvatori have Sci-Fi or Fantasy movie potential.
    The original movie “Dune” did abandon the book version but it had an intact storyline which was entertaining. There are many other books by the Herberts (Frank and Brian) which merit as movie material. The Dune TV series was excellent but we are still hungry for more.
    Also, I am looking forward to “The Hobbit” film which I heard was in production. (Still?)
    Long ago there was a Science show called “Connections”. We should have those books “Who put the butter in butterfly?”, “When do Fish Sleep?” and “Why Clocks run Clockwise” made into a series. OK, that is not entirely Science Fiction but if one loves Science and Science Fiction it is hard to stop chating about just the fiction part….73

  • R.P. White

    With all the brilliant minds and computer generated graphics coming out of Hollywood today, I think Roger Zelazney’s The Chronicles of Amber could made into a great movie or mini-series.

    On the subject of Robert Heinlein’s great works, what about Stranger in a Strage Land? When he penned this book, his crystal ball must have shown him a vision of society in the early 21st century!

  • Richard Unholz

    I wholeheartedly agree with the Lensman series, although you seem to have missed the Red Lensman in your comments. I would add the Skylark series as well, particularly for the great villain, Blackie Duquesne..

  • Richard Unholz

    How about John Russell Fearn’s Golden Amazon?

  • Sean Elliott

    The Legacy of Heorot – Larry Niven and David Pournelle.
    Colonists unwittingly upset the balance of nature when they destroy the creatures that are killing off their companions.

    Lot’s of action for the shoot ‘em up crowd, great ending.

  • paul brazier

    Harry Harrison is still alive – he’s in his eighties – and he says the Stainless Steel Rat has been optioned for the past thirty years or so. By the same person. Who has never done anything to get the film into production. Harry’s agent was hoping they could retire on the constant renewal of this one option. However, last year, he slipped up and didn’t renew the option and the Russians jumped in. Harry is a superstar in Russia. His new novel, which both his English and US publishers are wavering over, is being translated into Russian and an initial print run of 100,000 hardbacks is planned. The production of their movie of the Stainless Steel Rat is well advanced, and a couple of others are in preparation.
    The one book which he did get made into a movie was Make Room! Make Room! filmed as Soylent Green, starring Charlton Heston and Edward G Robinson. Harry got a small payment and a guarantee of a percentage of the net. He says he knows now you have to go for a percentage of the gross. Hollywood accountants are adept at showing that no film has ever made a net profit and he has never earned a cent from that film.
    Personally, I would rather movie makers came up with something original. Nothing they can imagine can be a patch on the movies that run in my mind. They just don’t have my SFX budget. Although I am disappointed that Disney, having optioned John Christopher’s Tripods in the list of the success of the War of the Worlds, has done little beyond commissioning a script. Good SF movies can be made from scratch. Star Wars, for all its derivative retro nature was an “original” piece of work. As was Alien. As was Joss Whedon’s Firefly/Serenity. I would a thousand times rather see an indifferent new story than a stonking billion dollar remake of a book I have already read. Wasn’t Dark Star one of the best SF movies ever? And made on a student budget of £zero.
    I’m a science fiction fan. I crave the different, the original, the unexpected. I really don’t want rehashes of stuff I already know. For gossake, tell me something new!
    Paul Brazier and Evelyn Lewes

  • Leo

    What about a movie on the sequel to when worlds collide?

    The book is fantastic and with todays special effects it would be outstanding!

  • Neil

    Heinlein wrote great stuff! What about Podkayne of Mars, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, The Rolling Stones, Have Spacesuit will Travel, and Space Cadet? Don’t let the titles throw you off-these are great stories.

  • Paul

    Much of what you list is Fantasy, not sci-fi.
    How about
    1) Dumarest of Terra series (E.C. Tubb)
    2) Burrough’s Mars stories
    3) Just about any of Jack Vance’s stories, starting with The Demon Princes
    4) Someone already mentioned Larry Niven’s work, which I second
    5) A. E. Van Vogt’s Weapon Shops of Isher books
    and so many more.

  • Patrisha Odell

    How about some of the Andre Norton books. I know some of them are known as “children’s books”, but how about Witch World (the first one) which begins in a world similar to ours and ends in the Witch World. Also, how about Sargasso of Space or the Beast Master. I know they made a movie of Beast Master, but it certainly had no resemblance to the Andre Norton book except for the title.

  • http://www.moviesunlimited.com Gary Cahall

    I liked your shout-out to Heinlein and Stranger in a Strange Land, RP White, I thought about mention RAH’s Future History series in the article, but decided a filming would be impratical because of the sheer number and range of works it covers. While my favorite Heinlein book is Moon Is a Harsh Mistress, it always amazed me that no one could ever get a movie made of Stranger, even though they’ve talked about it for decades with everyone from Leonard Nimoy to Sean Penn as Michael Smith. Maybe it’s just one of those unfilmable books, like A Confederacy of Dunces?

  • http://silverimageservice.com Jesse Silver

    These are all great suggestions. One book that I have always felt would make a terrific entertainment is Dream Park.

  • Dana Rich

    I agree with Paul. A lot of what is listed is fantasy, and fantasy is not sci fi even though it dance’s close to it. I would love to see a good treatment of Niven and Pournelle’s “Lucifer’s Hammer” although this would have to be a mini series and the parallels to “The Stand” are inescapable. I have often thought that Clarke’s “Childhood’s End” would make a good film, even though the idea of city sized space ships appearing over the Earth’s major cities has already been “borrowed” by “Independence Day”. The Stainless Steel Rat stories were fun to read and could possibly be fun movies as long as whoever made them didn’t try to take the source material too seriously. Another fun mini series could be treatments of Clarke’s “Tales of the White Hart”. These were great short stories, as were the original “I Robot” stories. This could be another source for some great films. Asimov’s “The Fountains of Paradise” could be interesting.

  • http://moviefanfare.com Scott Johnson

    Why mess with Doc Smith’s Lensman series? I thought his “Skylark” series was better. As for Asimov, what about his “Lucky” Starr series? That might work for younger people anyway…

  • Cary L.. Griffin

    There’s another book that should be a movie: “City”, by Clifford D. Simak. It’s a series of short stories strung together by succeeding generations of a single fictional family, with each chapter going a bit farther into the future. It begins in the near future with the decline of the city and the rise of robotics. It ends up with three parallel universes: the Earth, which is inhabited by a race of intelligent dogs; the planet Jupiter, where mankind has found bliss as a completely different life form; and a universe completely taken over by intelligent ants. Nonviolent and full of subtle humor.

  • TALYNIR

    How about Piers Anthony’s Incarnations of Immortality series? In a computer generated special effects environment like today’s it would probably be a piece of cake. Seven interconnected movies with existential undercurrents, at least 3 or 4 decent love stories, a struggle to save humanity, characters from all walks of life, plenty of action, supernatural premise for the young’uns raised on Buffy seduction scenes with a succubus to spice up the previews for the boys, plenty for religious nuts to characterize as evil…. how could you go wrong (except maybe with the casting… it would have to have to be near nobodies that take direction well or they’d cast someone and twist the characters to suit their image – although if Viggo were a little younger he could totally be Zane’s desperate loser on the edge with undertones of nobility and compassion turning him into a hero)

    And I mean, who doesn’t want to see Parry overthrow Satan and take his place???

    I think Disney bought he rights and then dramatic-licensed it into the series Dead Like Me. But if we could get the folks that produced the scifi channel’s miniseries of dune to tackle it, I think it could be pretty good.

  • Larry Noble

    I have been waiting a looong time for someone in the movie industry to recognize Doc Smith’s books, particularly the Lensman and Skylark series, as natural film material. None other than Isaac Asimov has been quoted as saying his favorite passage in Sci Fi is the introductory chapter of “Galactic Patrol”, which coincidentally was my personal introduction to Science Fiction when the title grabbed my attention in our school library in about the 7th grade. It hooked me good. Read it and see what you think.

    The strength of Smith’s work (I think) lies in his very visual, descriptive writing style. His books literally appear in near film-like visions in the “Theater of the reader’s mind”. His fast paced stories, with technical developments coming at breakneck speed would be translate easily into screenplays with the pace to keep audiences immersed in the stories. And, for that “something different” that makes movie-going fun, the design of the films could reflect a subdued, but somewhat art deco, 30ish style, giving a feel for the writer’s era. I hope that Howard and Straczynsky follow through and produce a film worthy of “Doc’s” imagination.

  • dre7861

    I think Clarke’s Rama would be a great movie if done correctly. That novel was the first to ever give me that feeling of…Wow! It also scared the living beejesus out of me. I can still remember that feeling of dread but yet unbearable curiosity when the astronauts first entered Rama and when they explored “New York City.” This has it all mystery, action, good characters, etc…

    But I have to disagree with Asimov’s Foundation – a book that I love – but it would be unwatchable. The narrative plotline is actually thin and is not what makes the novels soar. The majority of the plot involves people talking to each other – about concepts and theories. The Mule section would be the most adaptable but even then I think it would either bore people to death or have to be dumb down with explosions and killer robots.

    I would like to suggest another novel that would be a great movie – Connie Willis’ “The Doomsday Book,” winner of both the Hugo and Nebula. It has an easy to understand concept – time travel and engaging characters stuck in challenging situations. There are plot twists, nice doses of humor and plus there is the horror of the Black Plague. Actually I have never understood why Hollywood hasn’t discovered Ms. Willis’ writing because so many of her novels and short stories would transfer very well to screen – shoot she even sets a few of her stories in Hollywood!

  • colin stone

    A book I read in school about a group of people (cops ,I think) who transferred their brains into robot bodies and went on adventures sounds like a good movie

  • Larry Noble

    Reply to Colin………

    It is a good idea, and was made into a pretty good movie called “Robocop” in 1987, Starring Peter Weller. There were a couple of inferior sequels also, but only the original was really good. I suspect it was a little before your time, but it’s available on DVD, and pops up on cable occasionally.

    You might also like “Blade runner” which features ‘replicants’, which are genetically altered and enhanced people, who are therefore not considered ‘real’ humans, are not allowed on Earth, and are to be identified and killed on sight.

  • Peggy Everett

    What about Kim Stanley Robinson’s Mars series?

  • Steve Chilcote

    Gateway Saga has to be on this list!!! The theme, the multiple storylines, the visuals that could be done! Please consider the Frederik Pohl novels.

  • http://Website Chuck Clark

    It would be impossible to make Heinlein’s SIASL into a movie. The religious zealots would never let it happen. Too bad.

  • Steve S

    I’d like to suggest “The Forever War” by Haldeman. About 25 years ago I took my wife to the Organic Theater in Chicago for a stage performance from that book. It was very well done. I could see a big budget turning it into a big hit.

  • Rey S.

    How about David Weber’s Honor Harrington series. Here is Space Opera at it’s finest.

  • Michelle Neubauer

    Whoever said Haldeman’s The Forever War is on the right track-this novel screams movie. And although it was originally written as a response to the author’s Vietnam service, it certainly has resonance today.

    Another series that has screen potential is Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Darkover, especially the books with a lot of Terran/Darkovan interaction, such as Bloody Sun, Worldwreckers, the books focused on Regis Hastur or Lew Alton.

    Gateway has movie potential, especially the first book in the series.

    And a book that hasn’t been mentioned (i don’t think) that would make a really great movie is Gordon Dickson’s Way of the Pilgrim.

    A series of Terry Brooks that I see having better movie potential than Shannara are the Nest Freemark books.

  • Tony Fusco

    Stranger in a Strange Land -Alas, It will never get made as it makes fun of religion and so many other things we cannot laugh at.

    the Elric books – Storm Bringer- sailor on the seas of fate…like so many good writers we will see it made when the author is dead or all his relatives are dead or they will just rip off the stories like they did Philip Dicks stuff.

    Arthur C Clarkes Orphans of the Sky – oh too late idea stolen..C J. Cherryh ‘s Morgaine gate stories- Stargate with a real story…

    Get Peter Jackson to re-make Dune (right)

    A new Conan (this time even just a little like the books without a dumb weight lifter)

  • Christopher B.

    So many good choices already mentioned.

    I would love to see Ursula K. Le Guin’s Wizard of Earthsea done – properly. The wonderful language is all there. What they did to it in the 2004 movie was horrendous, and so contrary to the actual story.

  • Tommy

    Richard Unholz suggestion of The Golden Amazon would make a great series. and Rey S.’s suggestion of Honor Harrington also. Those wer great women! Lots of other good suggestions were made. I met Doc Smith at several conventions and have always admired the Lensman and Skylark series. Have autographed first editions of all but the first Skylark novel.

  • Manroy9

    I would opt for Roger Zelazny’s Jack of Shadows and Lord of Light books. As much as I love the Amber books, unless they made a trilogy, I don’t think it can be made in one film. I veto the Shannara books, too much of a Tolkien derivative but I would substitute The Worm Ourobouros for the sword and sorcery department.

  • Rachel

    I want to throw in a vote for C.S. Friedman’s works for more of the adult crowd.
    And then what about Zenna Henderson’s “The People” series… fodder for a TV Show, a mini series, or a movie…
    Greg Baer’s Darwin’s Radio/ Darwin’s Children could make for an interesting story, too…
    But for those who grew up on Harry Potter, it would be good to see any of Tamara Pierce’s Circle of Magic or Lioness series brought out on a big screen!

  • tim

    john carter of mars

  • Mindy

    I agree. Always wanted to see a film version of STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND…although imho it would work better as a mini-series on HBO or SHOWTIME…once read that Tom Hanks had optioned it, but that was years ago, and don’t know how much truth there is in it…but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was lolling in “turn-around heaven” somewhere in Hollwyood…

    And DOOMSDAY would also be a great film…but again, as a mini-series on HBOR or SHOWTIME.

    In fact, I think most of these books, which are big and fat and full of ideas, would be better off as mini-series.

  • Jon DeCles

    There was a truly dreadful “John Carter of Mars” made by the mockbuster people, but a good “Princess of Mars” is apparently already in the works, slated for release in 2012, if I recall.

    The problem with science fiction films is that good stories almost always have more in them than will fit in a film. That is why the best adaptations tend to be from novellas rather than novels. You have to cut too much from a novel, but a novella can often fit rather well.

    Although the changes in “The Last Mimsy” made for disappointments, a film made from Henry Kuttner’s story “Vintage Season,” which I believe was called “The Grand Tour,” made an excellent case for Kuttner as a source. For years I have wanted to see the film (with Hans Konreid) that was made of “The Twonky” I am told that someone did make one or more films from his Hogben stories, about a family of decadent Hillbillies descended from Atlantis.

    Marion Zimmer Bradley said that everything she ever wrote was because she read Kuttner’s novel “Fury.”

    And speaking of Bradley: “Hunters of the Red Moon,” which she and her brother wrote, stayed optioned for many years.

    I heard it was Tom Cruise who had optioned “Stranger in a Strange Land,” which would make sense. But Hanks would probably be willing to lose the weight for the begining. Grin.

  • Jon DeCles

    And, oh yes.

    I remember crying when I first saw the opening of the first Star Wars movie. If only Edmund Hamiltion had lived to see it. Then, sure enough, they blew up a planet, a signature Hamilton moment.

    But his wife, Leigh Brackett, got to write the next film, so it was ok.

  • John Swett

    For sheer Space Opera excitement I would vote for the Keith Laumer/Rosel George Brown novel
    “Earthblood”, and a well done (not like the Delaurentis dreck)”Conan” from the Robert E. Howard book “The Hour of the Dragon”.

  • Big Pauly

    Ya know, the Sci Fi series I would like to see made into a movie / mini series (on HBO OR STARZ) is Stephen Kings Gunslinger series now that would make good TV There also was a series of books that came out in the 70′s The first of that series was a title called the Jade Axe the hero was a guy named Richard Blade. It was a guy who jumped from parallel universe to other universes it was a great series of books. Plus I’m still waiting for the remake of Forbidden Planet

  • Richard Libott

    I have read that Heinlein’s novelette *If This Goes On–* (it’s the main portion of REVOLT IN 2100 detailing the overthrow of a fundalmentalist Christian theocracy ruling an enslaved U.S.) has been optioned multiple times since the 1970s.

    But no studio has had the nerve to make it. considering the religious backlash sure to follow.

    A novelette or short novel is ideal for adaption, since less material has to be left out.

    *Magic Inc.*– original Unknown Magazine title *The Devil Makes The Law* (set in a 1940s U.S. where magic works and which culminates in a search in Hell by a witch doctor; the narrator, a mundane building supply store owner; the narrator’s friend, a magic practitioner; and an elderly witch who regains her youth to join in the sojourn to Hell) would also make a sensational movie–and be far less controversial than *If This Goes On–*

  • Gordon Moore

    Poul Anderson expanded on the theme of Heinlein’s “Magic Inc.” in “Operation Chaos” and its sequel, “Operation Luna”. Anderson’s “The Broken Sword” and “War of the Gods” heroic fantasies would make excellent spear and sorcery epic movies.

    Or how about something in the Steampunk genre, with dirigibles, etc? One possibility is S.M. Stirling’s “The Peshawar Lancers”, in which the Victorian British Raj has lasted to the present day.

  • Sherry Lovell

    would think that there enough readers of the “Dragon Riders of Pern” that a movie would work. the dragons in the movie “Avatar” were good, and the story worked. the Pern stories are great and so are the dragons.

  • Duke

    I think you should ad one more to the list of seven, “The Tree Lord of Imitnen”. I read this as a young boy and I thought how great it would be if this were a movie instead of a book. Today it would be a cross between “Tarzan of the Apes” and “Avatar”. Think of it, WOW!!!

  • Ken Strawn

    After John Carter of Mars, I would most like to see someone tackle Doc Smith’s Lensmen stories. I would skip the two prequels (TRIPLANETARY and FIRST LENSMAN) Which were cobbled together after the later four appeared as magazine serials to make it a six book series.
    Someone mentioned Dumarest of Terra, which I have always thought would make a great series of movies or TV films.
    I loved CONAN THE BARBARIAN, probably the only sci-fi/fantasy project that De Laurentis did not screw up (maybe he was too scared of macho director Milius to come on the set). I would love to see my favorite Conan story THE PEOPLE OF THE BLACK CIRCLE done on the big screen. I thought CONAN THE DESTROYER failed because De Laurentis aimed it at children (no naked women and the swordfights were pitiful compared to Milius’ film).
    I think just about any of Heinlein’s juvenile books would make solid adventure sci-fi films. Of his later works, only GLORY ROAD and The MOON IS A HARSH MISTRESS would be filmable. Maybe STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND if it ended after the courtroom scenes. That final third of the book is where all the religious stuff is at. But I think Jack NIcholson would be perfect as Jubal Harshaw. I was greatly disappointed in STARSHIP TROOPER but I have read that the director did not even read the book.
    I would love to see updated versions of the British Quatermass stories, either as movies or just remaking the original 6 episode serials for TV.

  • Tom Dunham

    I think Raymond E. Feist’s Magician (The Riftwar Saga) series would make excellent movies.

  • J Nicholas

    I loved all of Anne Mc Caffrey’s dragon books and I would love to see them made into movies now that we have the CGI to create the wonderful creatures themselves. Foundatation on the other hand is so huge in story that you would need thirty installments to cover it all….?

  • J Nicholas

    Come to think of it any of the Alan Dean Foster’s would make great movies…. what do you think?

  • B. Ellison

    I agree with “all of the above” and would add as my “Number One” Philip Jose Farmer’s Riverworld series….talk about sequels

  • mark forbes

    1) hugh jackman as harry harrison’s stainless steel rat
    2) timothy olyphant as simon r green’s owen deathstalker

  • Andy Kirkland

    To do justice to these and so many other epics is almost impossible to do with film,at least as a movie(so much is left out). I would like to see the old serials make a comeback , then we might get a more of a complete telling of the stories with film.

  • Manuel Royal

    How about de Camp and Pratt’s Incompleat Enchanter stories? Could be fun.

    Or Kuttner’s Gallagher stories.

    Or a proper version of Philip Jose Farmer’s Riverworld. The Syfy people have screwed it up — twice.

    And another vote for a good version of Doc Savage. That could totally rock.

  • Butch Knouse

    How about J.D. Robb’s Eve Dallas “in Death” series?

  • curtis vest

    Simon R. Green’s Deathstalker series made into a mini-series for the sci-fi channel. these guys waste millions making the worst disaster movies or monster lets get back to the science fiction (wrestling doesn’t count) or with shows lioke primeval and dr who bbc would make an excellent place for deathstalker. come on simon r.green is british.

  • RES

    For a variety of reasons short stories often adapt to film more readily, so how about Jack Vance’s “The Moon Moth”? The mystery/manhunt element mixed with the SF & fish out of water elements should work very effectively. Zelazny’s “Doors of his Face …” could be very impressive on screen, especially with 3D.

    And I would dearly love to see Kuttner’s Gallegher stories, especially Proud Robot, made into film. Heck, it would be a terrific series for the SciFy channel.

  • Lisa Thaviu

    What about the Vorkosigan books by Lois McMasters Bujold? I actually think the least appreciated of her books, The Spirit Ring, would make a fantastic movie – set in Renaissance Italy, an African-Italian heroine, great opportunities for impressive but not impossible special effects, and a really terrific story.
    I would pick the Chalion series, but they are all too complicated and “internal” to make movies that are faithful to the books.

  • Paul Johnson

    The advent of Avatar and Inception earlier this year shows just what can be acheived through appropriate use of modern CGI. However the power of modern screen technology and its inappropriate use, has the capacity for completely overshadowing the central premise and story-line for so many of the classic sci-fi/fantasy ‘franchises’ mentioned.

    There seems to be an ever worsening trend for hollywood film-makers, to deviate from original storyline when adapting well known sci-fi novels/novella to screen, to the extent that the resulting script ends up a pale, wasted thing in comparison to the original books. The result of most such adaptations is that they are viewed as failures, because the sci-fi community immediately compare the film to the richness and depth of the original dialogue in the books. You can almost believe as a consequence that they use CGI to try and recover the situation.

    It is also notable that original sci-fi screenplays tend to be more successfull (Again you can hold Avatar and Inception up as examples of this). There are notable exceptions to the rule, Pete Jackson’s Lord of the ings trilogy is one such, but even then massive compromises needed to be made in order to bring the sheer expanse of Tolkiens vision into parameters appropriate for the cinema.

    The above misgivings notwithstanding, Anne McCaffreys Pern novels are just begging for screen adaptation. For those fans of a more cerebral bent, I would also love to see C.J. Cherryh’s Foreigner series on the silver screen, great scope for CGI in the moulding of the Atevi (ala Avatar), combined with political intrigue, and some downright nasty individuals would make for a really great movie, though I admit the depth of character and the intricacies of the Atevi-Human interface would probably make this series more suitable to classic TV mini-series format.

  • Dan Hillbom

    I would like to see DRAGON RIDERS, FOUNDATION, LENSMEN, and FOUNDATION on the screen.

  • TexAg71

    It probably doesn’t qualify as a series, per se, but the late Jack Finney’s two exquisite time-travel books, “Time and Again” and “From Time to Time,” would be spot-on perfect vehicles for someone like John Cusack.

  • David S

    As long as the story is not messed up I would like to see Stranger In a Strange Land by Heinlein. There a lot of paralells to today’s culture. And todays’s special effects would enhance the message.

  • Stephen Roberts

    An interesting comic book series that I often think could make a good film or mini-series was titled “Strikeforce Morituri”, about a government program to create superheroes to combat an alien invasion of Earth, the only problem being the superpowers cause the metabolisms of the transformed people to accelerate uncontrollably thus killing them.

    At the time I read it (80s, early 90s?) I thought the story offered a lot of emotion and meditations on heroism, camraderie, duty, death; not your average comic book subjects.

    Actually, now that I see this in print, I doubt anybody would make a movie out of this property (too “heavy” I’m sure producers woould say); in fact, the comic book -much to my disappointment- was cancelled (before 20 issues I believe), a good sign that no one, except me, was buying it.

    Anyway, thanks for the scifi/fantasy suggestions. I read “Starship Troopers” not too long ago and I was surprised how much I enjoyed it, so it’s nice to have some more genre titles to check out.

  • Joe

    I loved Ringworld and have often thought it would make a great movie. Was one of the first great S-F booked to hook me (the second was Dune).
    I also think that Larry Niven’s “Mote in God’s Eye” books would make a great movie series.
    I also agree that Clarke’s “Childhood’s End” would make a good film.
    I agree with many that the film versions of Dune and Starship Troopers were a crime and give people the wrong impression of what good S-F is.

  • mike

    All of the above are great Books, but their are so many great stories out there that could be great movies. These are a few I would like to see though.
    1. Jordans “Wheel of Time”. Check out Game of Thrones if you don’t think it can be done.
    2. Katherin Kurtz “Deryni”
    3. Riddle Master series by Patricia Mckillip
    4. Tad Williams “Dragon Bone Chair”
    5. The original Dragonlance series
    6. A good movie done about “The Sword and the Sorcerer.”
    7. Donaldsons “Thomas Covenant” series

  • chris

    Rama was the most overhyped, overrated book in the history of science fiction. It came, it thawed, it left. Whoppee! After hearing that this book had one every major award an SF novel could win at the time, I looked forward to reading it only to find it one of the most dull novels ever written.

  • Butch Knouse

    I’d love to see C.M. Kornbluth’s Not This August on the screen. With Charles Lane as Floyd Crowley.

  • david richardson

    i read and enjoyed many of doc smiths books many years ago. ages ago they went to charity shops. the bad bit is buying them again.

  • Sue H.

    I went and saw ‘How to Train your Dragon’ and as I watched it, I thought … this might be a way to finally bring Anne McCaffrey’s Pern series to the big screen. I’ll keep hoping.

    Another suggestion as to books to bring to the big screen – James H. Schmitz’s The Witches of Karres would be a good one.

  • owlwise12

    I’d love to see Clifford Simak’s “Way Station” adapted to fil. Also some of Leigh Brackett’s Mars & Venus stories, scientific inconsistencies be damned!

  • Johnny Bolin

    Wrong, wrong, wrong, all of these books are great, but Hollywood would ruin most, take the gist and muck up the whole thing. Few will be cognizant of the fans and the books as Jackson did with the lord of the Rings, yet do consider Ben Bova and his tour of the solar system books that are all interconected. He successively portrays what might well be the reality of our space adventures where private industry will make most of the progress and advancement into space and exploration of our near earth environs

  • Clyde Simmons

    With the great technology at hand i would love to see the John carter of mars books put on the screen. and the land that time forgot trilogy by Burroughs could be redone. I love those two series’s as well as tarzan.

  • Pondo Sinatra

    I can think of two books that I would like to see made into movies, The Adolesence Of P-1 by Thomas J Ryan and The Tripod Trilogy by John Christopher

  • l2ma

    My favorite books of all by Anne McCaffrey, The Dragon Riders of Pern would make an awesome film Also a very old series of books by Jack Vance called Planet of adventure consisting of four books,1.City of the Chasch, 2.Servants of the Wankh 3. The Dirdir and the 4th is The Pnume. Another great series is by Jack Chalker, The well World Series.
    “Be still my heart”

  • Andy

    Destroyermen series by Taylor Anderson and Dies the fire/ The Change series by S.M. Stirling Would make epic films .

  • tammi

    Name of the Wind…Patrick Rothfuss. His story telling abilities are flawless

  • John Fraraccio

    No exaggeration to say I chanced upon this. Excellent recommendations; some I’d not heard of or read but now plan to, and some I’d not read since childhood but plan a return.

    But would a film adaptation do justice to any of them? Since the last comment to mine John Carter was tried and found wanting at the box office, though I daresay that wasn’t for lack of an earnest effort. Ray Bradbury wrote two screenplays based on The Martian Chronicles; some day they’ll get that one right. And I too lament that Syfy appears unwilling or intellectually incapable (or, more likely, both) to tap into the genre’s rich history.

    All this said nothing matches the film in the reader’s head, and I’m sure this is why recommendations come so readily to mind. Here are my top choices, each with an insight: Arthur C. Clarke’s Childhood’s End can be done if NOT literally transcribed (I know it’s been optioned many times, once by George Pal, and wonder what would happen if Pixar latched onto it), while Walter M. Miller Jnr’s A Canticle for Leibowitz can be done as a three-part miniseries if it adheres as close to the original as possible (though avoid the technically posthumous follow-up novel like the Plague itself).

    Finally, among all the comments is a recommendation for one work of an author whose style and insight fully reflected his training as a newspaper journalist. Lay your hands on just about anything by Clifford D. Simak. He effectively provided my introduction to the genre. I haven’t forgotten him.