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Respect the source material: The best science fiction novels turned into movies

Blade Runner poster

It sounds like an almost unconquerable challenge: condensing down to a manageable list all of the world's classic science fiction novels which were turned into movies.

Hollywood has never shied away from looking to the literary world for a little bit of lightning in a bottle; that precious inspiration for a screenplay which is so often found within the pages of a good book. Science fiction novels in particular have served as a wellspring from which cinema screenwriters have drawn again and again...with often divisive results. It's a common tale: popular, beloved story undergoes chopping 'n changing for its big screen debut, with legions of its fans crying fowl that their source material wasn't respected.

"The Giver" is just one science fiction novel among many which has received the silver screen treatment. It's not the first, and it certainly won't be the last, but it does provide a fantastic opportunity to mosey on down memory lane and revisit some of the best science fiction novels before they were turned into movies.

Fantastic Planet
Fantastic Planet Wikipedia

Fantastic Planet

French novelist Stefan Wul wrote "Oms en serie" in 1957, a tale of humanity's persecution, captivity and domestication under the will of an alien race known as Draags. In a world where many fans are left wanting from cinematic adaptations of their favorite stories, Wul's novel was expertly adapted by director Rene Laloux in 1973 as an animated feature, one which is rich with vibrant colors, tripped visuals, gorgeous cut-out animation and an absolutely amazing score from French jazz musician Alain Goraguer.

It's a film which truly does get better with each, subsequent viewing, and serves as a must-see piece of animated science fiction art from the 1970s.

Dune Wikipedia


Opinions are sharply divided concerning the 1984 film adaptation of Frank Herbert's popular series of "Dune" novels-the first of which was published in 1965-from director David Lynch. The film suffered from a notoriously complicated production, not the least of which was a rejected screenplay from cult, midnight movie filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky. Still, Herbert's source material is nothing if not bizarre and unique tale of political intrigue and strife upon the arid desert world of Dune.

I Am Legend
I Am Legend Wikipedia

I Am Legend

One need look no further for the far-reaching influence and impact of Richard Matheson's 1954 novel "I Am Legend" than the multiple cinematic remakes which have based their visions upon this magnificent source material. Take your pick from the legendary Vincent Price in 1964's "Last Man on Earth," the 2007 Will Smith vehicle-which took its title directly from Matheson's novel-or this writer's personal favorite, 1971's funky and iconic Charlton Heston flick, "The Omega Man": they're all worthy takes on Matheson's tale of the last man on earth waging a war against a new uprising of subterranean vampires.

Who Goes There?
Who Goes There? Wikipedia

Who Goes There?

"Who Goes There?" was the 1938 novella from science fiction writer John W. Campbell Jr. which serves as a base for two classic science fiction films—"The Thing From Another World" in 1958 and a stone cold classic remake from John Carpenter, simply titled "The Thing," in 1982-as well as a 2011 prequel to Carpenter's film, also titled "The Thing."

Campbell's tale is an agoraphobic tale of isolation and mistrust, as an alien entity invades an arctic outpost of scientists. This shape-shifting alien soon puts the entire crew at each others' throats as no one can be trusted to be quite what they seem on the surface. It's a classic tale of paranoia which works on paper, on the screen, but most importantly...deep within the imagination.

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Wikipedia

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

If you read our list of top dystopian film adaptations, then you're already familiar with this 1968 novel from American novelist Philip K. Dick, the plot of which was used for the base of director Ridley Scott's legendary 1982 science fiction film "Blade Runner." It's a powerful, timeless tale of life, memory and the human experience, all told under the guise of a post-apocalyptic future of androids and hunters.

Other classic science fiction novels turned into movies...

  • "The Body Snatchers" (Jack Finney)
  • "Altered States" (Paddy Chayefsky)
  • "We Can Remember It For You Wholesale" (a.k.a. Total Recall, Philip K. Dick)
  • "Jurassic Park" (Michael Crichton)
  • "Make Room! Make Room!" (a.k.a. Soylent Green, Harry Harrison)
  • "A Clockwork Orange" (Anthony Burgess)
  • "1984" (George Orwell)
  • "Starship Troopers" (Robert A. Heinlein)

This is a "sponsored post," meaning the company who sponsored the article compensated me for writing the article. The opinions I have expressed, however, are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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