…should be made into mini-series.
Things that Chap My Ass about the Stinking SyFy Channel
You know, when they first came out with the SciFi Channel, I, like many fans, thought “At last! Bawahahahaha, at last!”
A channel dedicated to just us. Us Science Fiction fans.
A channel just for geeks, freaks, and nerds.
A channel where Star Trek, The Next Generation wouldn’t be pre-empted for Monday Night football or some Bass Fishing Classic (seriously, how do you get to be a professional bass fisherman? No, really, what exactly do you major in at Fat Lazy Bastard University to prepare yourself? Beer and hookers? Is there a Union? and more importantly, who the fuck watches two guys in a boat, fishing?)
A channel where they’d show endless repeats of Space 1999, and Star Trek, and, hell, maybe even the excretible Starlost. With movies of the week like the classic Forbidden Planet and maybe Destination Moon and even the hysterically bad Moon 02.
A channel where they’d show interviews with great authors, like a video version of John Scalzi’s The Big Idea.
A channel where they’d show sneak peaks of upcoming SciFi movies and interviews with the cast, crew, directors and writers – kind of a TV version of the old Starlog Magazine.
A channel where they’d make cool new science fiction series without having to dumb it down for the mundanes.
A channel where they’d cover the conventions, live and in color.
A channel where they’d utilize modern technology to blog and plurk and twitter and connect us all.
Man, I was all kinds of excited.
Hell, if it was up to me, I would have gotten the rights to exclusively broadcast NFL football – and then preempt the game with about ten minutes to go. Up yours, jock douche bag knuckle draggers, how you like it? You may now pucker up and kiss my ass. La Dee Da, Bitches, name all the Planets of the Federation and maybe we’ll broadcast the rest of the game - at 11:30PM. (You may, if you like, visualize me gleefully giving the finger to professional televised sports at this point).
Boy, it sure didn’t take long for that dream to die a small whimpering death, did it?
Instead of a SciFi channel, what we got was SyFy, which mostly consists of ECW wrestling and unbelievably bad movies like Mansquito and Snakehead Fish Monsters of Venus (or whatever it was called, like it actually matters), and Jennifer Love Hewitt hunting ghosts or some silly nonsense (seriously, the girl is nine kinds of funny, why she’s doing this crap is beyond me).
Every once in a while, they manage to pull a decent science fiction series out of their corporate sphincters, Farscape and BSG come to mind. So it is possible for those running SyFy not to actually shit all over the only people who watch their wretched channel.
Now that BSG has proved beyond any shadow of a doubt that there is great profit to be made in quality Science Fiction, and that a great number of people like me actually prefer intelligent fare over the tractor-pull retarded nonsense of the ECW, and that a science fiction show can actually be referred to as “the best hour on television” by mainstream media, I’d like to suggest that those who run the SyFy Channel pull their collective heads out of their aforementioned sphincters and turn to some classic science fiction novels for inspiration.
In this day and age of relatively cheap and excellent special effects, a decent science fiction series can be done that would have been beyond conception even ten years ago. And while I’d dearly love to see some of my favorite novels come to life on the big screen, few Hollywood blockbusters could do justice to them. No, for them to be done right, they need to be a well made mini-series, done with the same dedication and passion as series like Firefly or the BSG reboot. That’s what the SyFy channel should be all about.
Take the following for example:
The World of Tiers, by Philip José Farmer. Specifically the first book in the series, The Maker of Universes. Set in an artificial universe, upon an artificial planet built by godlike beings to resemble a world-sized wedding cake, The World of Tiers is filled with strange creatures, odd and wildly varied civilizations, godlike creatures, Indians, knights, steamboats, long extinct animals, evil, good, and many things in between. It’s a quest and a voyage of discovery – and the ending is both predictable and startling.
Ringworld, by Larry Niven. Louis Wu and his motley crew crash land on an Enormous Big Thing - a sun girdling ring more than a million millions wide. As Niven himself says, the Ringworld is an intermediate step between a planet and a Dyson Sphere. They find mystery and adventure, floating cities and flying castles, betrayal and trust, old enemies and new friends, immortality, and the ruins of ancient star-faring civilizations beneath the light of the heaven spanning Arch.
Starship Troopers, by Robert Anson Heinlein. A coming of age story that follows Johnny Rico from callow youth to seasoned and respected officer in the star spanning Mobile Infantry. The classic military scifi tale – and the only way to do this novel correctly is as a mini-series, ideally by the same folks who did Band of Brothers.
The Foundation Trilogy, by Isaac Asimov. Still considered one of the cornerstones of Science Fiction and written on the scale of Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire, The Foundation Series spans the final centuries of a slowly dying Empire and the aftermath of its collapse. Possibly one of the greatest works ever. Ideally, a mini-series would devote each season to each specific epoch in the series.
Rendezvous with Rama, by Sir Arthur C. Clarke. Explorers intercept and explore an enormous world sized ship as it transits the Solar System. They attempt to unlock its secrets and are only marginally successful. Supposedly a movie adaption of Rama, led by Morgan Freeman, has been in the works for over a decade – but that movie is unlikely to be made.
Alas, Babylon, by Pat Frank. The classic post apocalyptic survival tale set in small town Florida, often imitated over the years, but rarely duplicated. Ideally, I’d like to see this told exactly as Frank wrote it, set in late 1950’s America, complete with segregation, and Soviets, and poverty, and the moldering remains of the Gentile South.
The Forever War, by Joe Haldeman. Another coming age tale and a conflict that spans centuries. Less about war, than about the toll it takes on those who fight it and the civilization they leave behind - and how their war shapes that very civilization. This novel was born out of Haldeman’s experience as a soldier in Vietnam, and ideally it would be filmed in the same manner as the classics of that conflict. Apocalypse Now and Platoon come to mind.
The Peace War, by Vernor Vinge. Vinge’s breakout novel. Set in a world built upon the ruins of our own, controlled by descendents of scientists who ended war and imposed peace upon the world – at the cost of freedom, scientific progress, and the lives of millions. In this world of ironclad dictatorship an old man who once discovered the technology used to rule the world, a women out of time who was once his love, and a young mathematical genius set out to destroy tyranny. Along the way they discover a startling secret, turn it into a weapon, and change the world.
Pern, by Anne McCaffery. (Technically, this is a fantasy, but what the hell). Technology has finally reached the point where the dragons of Pern could be brought to life realistically. This is a classic tale of discovery and bravery and perseverance in the face of overwhelming odds. For twenty years I’ve carried in my head the opening scene to this series: The great dragons and their riders soaring low over the exotic coastline of Pern with the Red Star flaming like an eye in the heavens above and reflecting on the dark waters below, and then rising up through jagged dark peaks just as the sun breaks above the horizon and Ruatha Hold appears against the Ramparts. The Voice, by The Moody Blues is the theme song.
Titan, by John Varley. Ringmaster, the first manned ship to Saturn, discovers and is destroyed by an ancient and insane world sized creature, Gaia. The captain, Cirocco Jones, and her crew awaken scattered and shattered inside Gaia. The living world is built like an enormous Stanford torus. Stranded and alone, some altered beyond recognition, some damaged, and some changed in terrible ways, the people from Earth seek each other out and attempt to solve the mysteries of this inside out world and its bizarre inhabitants. Eventually, some of them storm heaven to confront the godlike Gaia herself.
The Blue World, by Jack Vance. A vast oceanic world with no land, populated by the descendents of shipwrecked criminals who live on giant sea plants and battle the mighty King Kraken himself. Just because, seriously, this would be so freakin’ cool.
World out of Time, by Larry Niven. A cryogenically preserved man from the 1970’s awakens in the far future into the body of a brain-wiped criminal. He has no rights, no citizenship. He’s a slave, and nothing more. He is trained as a ramship pilot and sent to seed mankind among the stars. Along the way he escapes his fate and finds a way into the future. He returns more than a million years later to a vastly changed and dangerous Earth.
Hell, I’d even suggest David Gerrold’s Chtorr series, maybe that would get him to finish it.
And there you have it, Stonekettle Station’s Top Ten SciFi Novels that should be made into outstanding and captivating mini-series.
What books do you think would make a great science fiction series?