Oh, hell.

Last night I re-read — for the umpteenth time — Alfred Bester’s “fine little novel” The Stars My Destination along with a giant mug of Earl Grey and good music playing softly on the CD.

I logged on this morning fully intending to wax poetic about the novel, and performed a search to find just the quote I needed.

What I discovered instead, is that Hollywood is apparently in the process of turning one of my all-time favorite books into a movie.

Hoping against feverish hope that somebody had glued Ridley Scott to a chair and forced him to re-watch two weeks worth of ‘Blade Runner’ before being allowed to lay one single digit on this classic, I checked on the progress of One Of My Favorite Novels.

Things are not looking good.

Apparently five different folks have written screenplays based on Besters book — just for this production.

Three other folks have RE-written those screenplays.

Oh, Jumping Judas Priest on a flaming pogo stick!

Buy a book for each one of your actors, hand each one a book and say, “Here’s your script.”

That’s all you’ve got to do.

It gets better.

The director is one Betty Thomas
— also listed as a producer — and she has directed such science fiction edge-of-your-seat classics as:

‘Dr Doolittle’ with Eddie Murphy, ‘Private Parts’, ’28 Days’ with Sandra Bullock, ‘I Spy’ and ‘John Tucker Must Die’.

She has produced such sci-fi wonders as:

‘Can’t Hardly Wait’, ‘Charlie’s Angels’, and ‘Surviving Christmas’.


They’re going to [deleted] up my book.

Hell, I’d even grudgingly allow John Carpenter to helm this one, as long as he swore on the heads of his children to be faithful to the book.

Please, for the love of Vishnu, you have to assign a director who knows science fiction, who breathes science fiction, who loves science fiction, to this one. I’m begging you.



Do not read this.
You think you're tough?

24 thoughts on “Oh, hell.”

  1. Don’t worry, LD. The movie rights to Childhood’s End were snarfed decades ago and skilfully not done anything with.

    Now, if someone could do a really decent Ringworld…

    – NF

  2. Any excitment I may have at the thought of a movie is dwarfed by the certainty that they’re gonna’ muck it up.

  3. Sadly, most good science fiction novels translate very poorly to the big (or small) screen. I don’t expect that “The Stars, My Destination” will fare any better. Think of “Starship Trropers” and “The Puppet Masters” and … no I can’t take anymore.

    Time to dig out a good book and start reading.


  4. I felt the same way about “Battlefield Earth”. Oh the horror…..

    I mean really! Hopping into 1000 year old Harrier jets and flying around the world combatting the Psychlos. I guess British engineering is better than i thought….

    There were a bunch of other things that were specifically pointed out in the book that were completely reversed in the movie.

    It was a horrible travesty visited upon the first book that I actually re-read to destruction. (I had to re-bind it with packing tape.)

  5. “The Stars, My Destination” was one of my favorite books when growing up; I really can’t think of anyone who could do a decent job of it as a movie.

  6. Welcome to the club. Any appreciator of fine SciFi books has had a favorite book mutilated into a movie.

  7. Cheer up, LD… they can hardly do worse than the buggering that Starship Troopers received. Although I must respectfully disagree with GaryS on Puppet Masters – they stayed pretty faithful except for the ending.

    Certainly it was enough to give me nightmares… just like the book did!

  8. How rare, I just finished Gully Foyle’s saga yesterday.

    But yeah, LD. Just… let it go. I finally had my Outrage Circuits explode in a lovely crysanthemum pattern against the inside of my brainium with the travesty that was “I, Robot”.

    Let it go, mate. Let it go. It’s not “The Stars my Destination”, it’s “Total Recall 2 – Now With Brainaportation” or something totally unrelated to anything.

    Oh. Sorry. Must go and re-read my copy of “We Can Remember It For You Wholesale”, now…


  9. Well I don’t think they can do a worse job than was done on “Starship Troopers”. As a libertartion I hate saying this, but we need a law. Something like the law that says you can’t call a drink juice unless it has a specified percentage of real juice in it. Only it should be a significant percentage unlike juice. Say that in order to use the title of the book for the movie you must use at least 95% of the plot line.

  10. I understand how you guys can be disappointed in films made from great Sci Fi books, but you must keep in mind two things.

    1) Film and Literature are NOT THE SAME MEDIUM. Translating a dense, thick, complex book into a < 2 hour movie ain't that easy. Imagine trying to translate Van Gough's Starry Night into a song or translate The Charge of the Light Brigade into interpretive dance ... each medium has its vagaries and quirks. So some latitude needs to be given (although there are many cases where idiots butcher a book on screen). 2) Much of the golden age of Sci Fi is just too darn libertarian for a bunch of Michael Moore worshiping Hollyweirdos to understand, let alone translate the themes of to the screen. Starship Troopers and Battlefield Earth are both perfect examples. Hell, to do Dune right they had to make it into a mini series (although I did like the original movie version). I can’t think of a single movie-from-a-book that was even close to as good as the book.

  11. I havn’t read the book, but I have say at least the director has some halfway decent movies. It could be uwe boll directing. He’s made so many movies that have so much wasted potential.

  12. I agree with several of the other posters, nothing could be worse than turning Heinlein’s patriotism into fascism in the movie version of Starship Troopers.

    If there is an afterlife, Robert Heinlein is there waiting for Paul Verhoeven to show up so he can kick his ass.

  13. My prayer is that no one ever attempts to convert Heinlein’s “Friday” into a movie.

    Somebody would probably cast Halle Berry in the title role (shudder).

  14. Rule One: if there are more then two names as screenwriters the probabiltiy of the movie sucking is 90%.
    Rule Two: If there are more then two rewriters the odds go to 99%.
    That is a bit of a paraphrase of something Harlen Ellison said years ago. And he would know!!
    I would add that if the director hasn’t done anything like this before, or worse their work was dramticially the opposite you may be talking Istar crossed with The English Patient.
    I feel your pain LD, my favorite counter-assasain novels, Donald Hamltons Matt Helm, has been optioned by Dreamworks, had two or three screenwriters all of who have never done stright drama.

  15. “Rendezvous with Rama” is at Morgan Freeman’s production company, with David Fincher signed to helm.

    Someone needs to pony up the budget!

    If you want to see Starship Troopers a little closer to the book, go buy Roughnecks:The Starship Troopers Chronicles on DVD.

  16. I’ve heard it said by more cynical than I that paying $10 for a ticket to a Hollywood movie is the mental equivalent of paying Michael Bay $10 to leave a steaming loaf on your chest.

    They’ll screw it up.

    But I’ll leave you with this Nerdy Fun Fact: The character Bester portrayed by Walter Koenig on Babylon 5 was named as a hat tip to Alfred Bester.

  17. Shawn…

    Matt Helm was already made into several really really bad movies starring Dean Martin. I’m hoping this time around someone will do it right.

  18. Hey man…just accept the fact that any book you read you will not be able to watch in movie format without just feeling ill. Seriously. Battlefield Earth is one of my favorite books. I was so pissed off that they even TRIED to make a movie out of it, let alone subject myself to the hackery of such a wonderful piece of work. And, that’s just the favorite book for today..I could list so many others and NOT ONE TIME have I been happy to see the movie. Sorry.

  19. Speaking of “Oh, hell.” and sci-fi writers… Robert Anton Wilson (Co-author of the Illuminatus Trilogy) is not doing so well. His childhood run-in with polio has come back to bite him, big-time. He’s in a hospice & nearly broke. Rev. Stang is passing the hat for him.

  20. LD: Thanks for the introduction to Mr. Besters work. Read “The Stars, My Destination” today and found it very enjoyable. I’ll read “The Demolished Man” tomorrow and hope to be just as pleased!!

    Elliot: We can only hope that Mr. Verhoeven fully experiences Mr. Heinleins personal critique of the formers work….

    (Hopefully its a FAMILY SIZE can of Whoop-Ass!!!)

  21. I’ve remembered this quote from The Stars My Destination,:
    “Gully Foyle is my name.
    Terra is my nation.
    Deep space my dwelling place
    The stars, my destination”
    and I don’t usually remember quotes.

    My prediction is the movie will star Vin Diesel and resemble “Starship Troopers, the Movie”.

  22. Oh God, I didn’t know they were working on the Matt Helm novels. They’re some of my favorite books of the type, and would make TERRIFIC movies.

    Unless the bastards screw them up like they usually do.

    I think about what they could do making the Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser books into movies(Yay!) and then shudder at what they’d probably do to them.

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